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Volume 53, Number 7   September 26, 2005         

    Announcements    Events    News    People on Campus

People on Campus

Warren Haack -- traversing the continental and digital divide
Photo of Warren HaackColleagues say that Warren Haack is such an integral part of the Cinema Department that they sometimes think of him as an assistant chair or member of the faculty. As information technology consultant, Haack manages the maintenance and inventory of film and recording equipment for the department.

"Warren is the link between all the facets of our department," Cinema Chair Stephen Ujlaki said. "He's contributed a huge amount to the direction we are taking and due to his dedication we have been able to offer students a great number of technical opportunities that would not otherwise have been available."

Haack is a cinema alum and proud booster of the cinema students he has helped in his 23 years at SFSU. The door to his office is rarely shut and always covered with news clippings about successful alums. He began his professional life as a musician and recording engineer. When first hired at SFSU he devoted a lot of time servicing the machinery involved in 16mm filmmaking.

"Now, I spend most of my time just keeping up with the latest software required for digital filmmaking," he said.

Haack maintains one thing hasn't changed over the years: the vibe on campus. "The percentage of international students is what makes this campus unique," he said. "The way people work together here for the collective good is an example of the way things could be in the world."

An avid backpacker and mountaineer, Haack has hit the trail all over the western United States and in Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru. Each year he takes off for the wilderness with a hiking buddy he's known since his teens.

"This is a time for me to reground myself and reorient my priorities," Haack said. "When I don't make this trip I'm anxious for the entire year." This summer he took a 19-day trek in the Hoover Wilderness, north of Yosemite.

Haack is in the process of completing two long-term professional projects. He's focusing on distribution and sales of his travel memoir, "East Side Guide: A Journal of International Mountain Experiences" and is editing an as-yet-untitled short narrative film.

Set in the California gold rush of 1849, the film tells the story of Joaquin Murieta, a folk hero at the time, Haack said. "I shot it in the '70s, but for a long time it just sat in the can. … It was missing context."

The context he was searching for was time. Haack recently brought four of the film's actors together to finish the project. Now 30 years older, the actors portrayed their characters as looking back at their gold rush experience. Originally shot on black and white 16mm film, the later part was shot in color digital. Haack plans to finish the whole piece in video.

" East Side Guide" is a labor of love that Haack worked on over the years between his responsibilities at SFSU and parenting his daughter, Theodora, who is now 19. The compilation of travel writing and photography was put together with a documentary filmmaker's sensibility. Photos of people and places are mounted on backgrounds that depict the culture of each place. A photo of Peruvian llama herders appears to grow out of the textiles of the region.

"The gestalt of the larger picture comes out," Haack said. "Our beautiful world is made up of many elements, which when woven together, create a reflection of experience much larger than the sum of the parts." The book is available at the SFSU Bookstore.

Haack, who grew up in Modesto, is the third generation in his family to earn a degree from SF State. Haack's mother, Eleanor Brophy Haack, graduated in 1959 and his grandmother Margaret Brophy in 1907, when SFSU was known as the San Francisco Normal School.

-- Denize Springer

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Last modified September 26, 2005, by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications