MBA Student Spotlight: Timon Birkhofer
LMU MBA student Timon Birkhofer is having a blockbuster of a summer. In May, he attended the Cannes Film Festival as one of only a handful of industry advisors with the American Pavilion, an organization which offers students the opportunity to participate in a collection of internship/educational programs. Timon spent several weeks in the French Riviera mentoring students interested in a career in entertainment business.
A few weeks later, Timon discovered he had been selected as a 2016 Producers Guild of America “Power of Diversity” fellow. In June, he began an intensive 10-week workshop designed to foster the development of producers and projects that embody and promote diversity in film, television, documentary and new media. Only 10 applicants are selected to participate in the workshop so it’s a big deal.
“It’s one of the most competitive programs with the leading association for film producers so I’m very excited,” said Timon, who’s worked steadily as a producer for over a decade. “I learned early on that if you want to make it in the entertainment business, you have to immerse yourself in the industry and meet as many people as possible.”
Timon has used the same approach as an MBA student at LMU. He’s made it a priority to stay active and involved with the program, serving as EVP of operations for the LMU MBA Student Association and founding president of the LMU Business of Entertainment Society. Outside of LMU, he is the media & entertainment co-chair for the German American Business Association.
Not only has the MBA program introduced him to a whole new circle of friends, it’s helped connect him to the Los Angeles entertainment community. Through the LMU MBA alumni network, Timon was able to secure internships at both Paramount Pictures and Fox Searchlight.
To understand how Timon got to where he is today, you have to know where he came from. As the youngest of nine children growing up in Germany, Timon’s first love was music instead of film. He played the cello, piano and bass guitar and had a record deal by the age of 17. After several albums and mediocre success, a lucrative career in music didn’t look promising. Fortunately, his band’s music videos caught the attention of Universal Music Group which led to producing car commercials for luxury brands like Audi and Porsche. In fact, it was during an Audi shoot in Los Angeles when he met his now fiancé and decided to move to the West Coast.
Timon took advantage of being in the entertainment capital of the world and decided to go back to school to get his MBA.
“I wanted to be taken seriously as a producer and having an MBA gives you an edge over others in the film industry,” said Timon. “There aren’t many producers with a solid background in business and finance.”
Though he was happy to be a working producer, Timon started getting bored with car commercials. His passion and focus turned to documentaries; he just needed to find a great topic and be the first person to cover that topic. That topic turned out to be crowdfunding. His first film was a documentary called “Capital C.” Timon managed to raise over $80,000 on Kickstarter and eventually sold the film to Netflix. “Capital C” won awards at both the Zurich Film Festival and the Maui Film Festival and was nominated for many others.
More recently, Timon wrote and produced a short film called “The Impossible Joy” about an 11-year-old illegal immigrant who seeks the guidance of a reluctant, old man to help him win the heart of his first love at school, while he cleverly overcomes violent prejudice from fellow students. He has high hopes for the film and has submitted it to several film festivals.
Timon also just signed on to produce his first feature film in the fall. Between producing the film and keeping up with his MBA studies, he’s also getting married soon.
“I find I’m more productive if I keep busy,” said Timon. “I’ve set high goals and expectations for myself and I’m looking forward to what opportunities come next. My hope is to win an Oscar someday.”