Celebrating Curtis Hanson

On Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, UCLA Film & Television Archive hosted “Curtis Hanson — A Celebration of His Work with UCLA,” which was held at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

Filmmaker Hanson, who passed away on Sept. 20, 2016, at the age of 71, was the honorary chairman of UCLA Film & Television Archive and an executive board member at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan provided the evening’s opening remarks, which featured a screening of In a Lonely Place (1950), starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. Hanson’s partner, Rebecca Yeldham, introduced the film, a favorite of Hanson’s and one that influenced his work through the years.

After the screening, UCLA TFT alumnus Alexander Payne hosted a conversation with actress Kim Basinger and production designer Jeannine Oppewall, both of who had worked with Hanson on L.A. Confidential (1997); and director of photography Roger Elswit, a close personal friend, who lensed Hanson’s The River Wild (1994).

Curtis Lee Hanson was born March 24, 1945, in Reno, Nevada and grew up in Los Angeles. He left high school in his senior year and worked as a freelance photographer and editor for Cinema magazine. Hanson often referred to his years of journalism as his “film school” and credited interviews with many Hollywood greats — John Ford, William Wyler, Ida Lupino, Don Siegel, Dalton Trumbo, Samuel Fuller — as inspiring his own filmmaking.

In the 1990s, Hanson rose to prominence with an eclectic slate of films including The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), The River Wild, and his greatest critical success, L.A. Confidential, which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and named to the National Film Registry in 2015. He more recently directed and produced Wonder Boys (2000), 8 Mile (2002) and In Her Shoes (2005), and portrayed Meryl Streep’s husband in Adaptation (2002).

Hanson accepted the position of honorary chairman of UCLA Film & Television Archive in January 1999. He served as a passionate and committed champion of film preservation, as well as a tireless advocate for the Archive’s cultural mission of theatrical exhibition and research.

Hanson might be best remembered by Los Angeles cinephiles for hosting the Archive’s long-running film series, “The Movie That Inspired Me,” a program that he personally curated. Beginning in May 1999 with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, he invited leading artists from all areas of filmmaking to share with an audience a film that directly influenced their creative lives.

“The idea grew out of loving movies and talking about them with other people who love movies,” said Hanson in 2002. “And the films that are the most fun to talk about are not necessarily the classics, but those that had a personal impact on people when they saw them.”

“The Movie That Inspired Me” was tailor-made for Hanson and drew upon his unique set of talents and interests — an impressive knowledge of film history, natural interview skills, experience behind the camera and, above all, an irrepressible curiosity — to create unforgettable conversations. Artists who shared a film and joined him in conversation include Dede Allen, Drew Barrymore, Kathryn Bigelow, James L. Brooks, Roger Deakins, Robert Downey Jr., David Fincher, Carrie Fisher, Ray Harryhausen, Todd Haynes, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Charlie Kaufman, Diane Keaton, John Lasseter, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Jeannine Oppewall, Alexander Payne, Sean Penn, Sam Raimi and Lily Tomlin.

Hanson served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was the first recipient of the Film Preservation Award bestowed by The Film Foundation and the Directors Guild of America in 2003.

The newly established Curtis Hanson Fund at UCLA supports the public events and moving image preservation work of UCLA Film & Television Archive. To make a gift online, please visit http://giving.ucla.edu/FTVACurtis. For more information, call (310) 825-2350.


 Posted: February 9, 2017


Archive Event “Trip the Light Fantastic” Re-unites Special Effects pioneers

Tribute to Robert Abel & Associates’ PATHFINDING C.G. work in commercials, videos and feature films

RA&A veterans on stage at the Billy Wilder Theater: Left to right: Chris Blum, Art Director; Con Pederson, Co-Founder; TFT Dean Teri Schwartz, Producer; Tim McGovern, Technical Director; Richard Taylor, Art Director; Kenny Mirman, Director; Sherry McKenna, Vice President and Executive Producer; Richard Edlund, Director; John Nelson, Director; Clark Anderson, Art Director. Photo: Todd Cheney/UCLA Photography.

Posted on December 10th 2012 in Announcement

Staggeringly ambitious, both as a screening event and as a wide-ranging panel discussion, the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s “Trip the Light Fantastic: A Tribute to Robert Abel & Associates,” brought ten former stalwarts of the pioneering Hollywood visual effects house to the Billy Wilder Theater on November 10.

Founded in 1971 by two UCLA Arts & Architecture alumni, the late Robert Abel ’60, MA ’64 — the producer and co-director of several successful documentaries, including “The Making of the President 1968” (1969) and “Elvis on Tour” (1972) — and Con Pederson ’55, RA&A revolutionized the field of special visual effects in the 1970s and ‘80s, innovating the use of computer generated imagery (CGI).

TFT Dean Teri Schwartz was an award-winning Producer at RA&A during its peak period, winning several coveted CLIO awards for producing groundbreaking Abel commercials that combined live action with CGI. She also founded in partnership with Abel one of the most successful award-winning music video companies at the dawn of MTV and VH1, producing pioneering music videos with artists such as Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper and Barbra Streisand. At the Wilder, Schwartz delivered opening remarks and then joined almost a dozen other Abel alumni on stage, including co-founder Pederson, to discuss the company’s achievements.

The firm contributed to the effects for several groundbreaking motion pictures and television programs, including “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979) and “TRON” (1982), and the opening credits for the Steven Spielberg-produced series “Amazing Stories” (1985-1986). Perhaps even more significant for its impact on global visual culture was RA&A’s work on “motion graphics” for TV news programs and in hundreds of commercials for 7UP, Levi Strauss, TRW, Benson & Hedges, and many others, including 33 Clio winners.

Robert Abel co-directed, and RA&A created effects for, the 1980 Jackson 5 music video “Can You Feel It,” voted one of the 100 best videos of all time in an MTV poll.

Assembling clips from disparate sources in the Archive’s collection, and arranging the participation of almost a dozen SFX legends, was an epic programming challenge. According to Archive programmer Paul Malcolm, the tribute was far from a one-person undertaking.

“Planning for the evening began with Tony Best,” Malcom said, “a graduate of the MIAS program who cataloged much of the Archive’s Abel holdings, and finally came together during a year-long conversation with a number of Abel artists, including Richard Taylor and Kenny Mirman, who provided significant guidance for what to show and how to structure the event to best reflect the company’s collaborative culture.”

Related Videos:

Richard Taylor                            
           Kenny Mirman                                        Randy Roberts


Landau grills Koepp at Gotham screenwriting event

NYU and Columbia turn to TFT alums for expert views on the craft of screenwriting


TFT’s screenwriting program is so famous for nurturing top-notch talent that even rival institutions recruit its graduates as expert witness.

Most recently, NYU and Columbia teamed up to present a colloquy between Hollywood’s most successful scribe, David Koepp ’90 (“Spider-Man”), and Neil Landau ’85 (“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”), a TFT screenwriting professor and the author of the well-reviewed recent book “101 Things I Learned in Film School,” from which the event drew its name.

The event at the Cantor Film Center in Manhattan, moderated by Landau, was presented jointly by the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Division and the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film & TV.

Koepp talked about his experiences working on Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” David Fincher’s “Panic Room” and other films, and his directorial credits, including the forthcoming “Premium Rush.”

The event was co-sponsored by Movie Magic Script Software, Tisch East Alumni Council and Grand Central Publishing.


The Archive on TCM: 24-Hour Marathon of Restored Classics

Archive Director Horak introduced Laurel and Hardy’s “Way Out West,” Cassavetes’ “Shadows” and 11 other rejuvented films


Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and the UCLA Film & Television Archive joined forces in September on a 24-hour showcase of the extraordinary restoration and remastering work conducted by the Archive. Hosted in part by TCM’s Robert Osborne and Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the marathon premiered Sept. 20 and featured several new transfers and recent restorations, including “Topper” (1937), “Way Out West” (1938), “The Secret Beyond the Door”(1948), “The Prowler” (1951) and “Shadows” (1960).

The 24-hour marathon also included such previously heralded restorations from the Archive as “Life with Father”” (1947), “My Darling Clementine” (1946), “The Red Shoes” (1948) and “Killer of Sheep” (1977).

“Turner Classic Movies is proud to be able to present the work of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, one of the most respected centers for cinematic restoration in the world,” said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming for TCM. “TCM is committed not only to introducing classic film to new generations but also to supporting the preservation of the world’s cinematic heritage for future generations.”

“In keeping with UCLA Film & Television Archive’s efforts to preserve the rich history of cinema, we are honored by this opportunity to collaborate with Turner Classic Movies in presenting our work to such a diverse cable television audience,” said Archive Director Horak.

Thirteen films were screened during this 24-hour celebration of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s preservation efforts on Sept. 20, including: ““The Exiles” (1961), an outstanding early independent film that follows a day in the life of a group of Native Americans living in Los Angeles; “My Darling Clementine” (1946), John Ford’s brilliant retelling of the famed gunfight at the OK Corral; “Way Out West” (1938), a Laurel and Hardy Western featuring a famed soft-shoe dance number; and “The Red Shoes” (1948), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s colorful ballet fantasy about a young ballerina torn between two men.


Kristin Hanggi Rocks Orientation

In "Rock of Ages," Tony-nominated theater alum brings new sounds and energies to Broadway

Kristin Hanggi

New and returning students got a jolt of energy at TFT’s Orientation 2009, along with a glimpse of their professional future that looked more like an exuberant celebration — thanks to funny and engaging special guest, theater director Kristin Hanggi ’98.

Tony-nominated for directing the ’80s “hair band” musical “Rock of Ages,” Hanggi delighted the assembled students with her message that success is best pursued by digging deeper into the activities you love already.

She chose as an example her TFT classmates Jack Black and Kyle Gass, whose penchant for “sitting around their dorm room making up funny songs” evolved into a recording, concert and film career as the internationally popular comedy rock duo “Tenacious D.”

“Rock of Ages,” Hanggi revealed, grew organically, in a collaborative workshop environment. The themes of classic late-‘80s rock hits suggested situations that could be woven together into a boisterous ensemble comedy, centered around one of the most basic of all American Musical Theater plots: The plucky lad from the country in love with a street smart girl from the city.

The REO Speedwagon hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore,” Hanggi explained, seemed to be the perfect song to be reimagined as a gay anthem.

In addition to actively developing “Rock of Ages” as a feature film, Hanggi is working on a musical movie adaptation of the popular children’s book series “Dear Dumb Diary,” a heartfelt comic chronicle of the torments of middle school.

Below is an exclusive video interview with Hanggi.