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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.


Contact: Matt Itelson
phone: (415) 338-1743

Film producer Stephen Ujlaki named chair of SFSU Cinema Department

SAN FRANCISCO, September 10, 2001 - Stephen Ujlaki, a producer of more than 25 feature films, made-for-cable movies and documentaries, was recently named professor and chair of the San Francisco State University Cinema Department, named one of the nation's top film schools last year by Entertainment Weekly.

"In many ways, I approach being chair of the Cinema Department as similar to being producer of a film," said Ujlaki (pronounced YOU-LOCK-EE), a 20-year veteran of the film industry. "My responsibilities include managing budgets, finances, 37 faculty members and more than 600 cinema majors, as well as ensuring the success of the department and our students.

"Film production involves many of the same administrative, logistical and people skills: ensuring that financial and creative input into the screenplay is heard, keeping everyone happy without going over budget or hurting the picture, resolving conflicts, and maintaining strong leadership and direction," said the Cow Hollow resident.

Similar to how screenwriters pitch screenplays to film producers, Ujlaki pitched himself to the University as an ideal candidate for the department chair position because his producing experience provides him with the administrative skills a department chair needs.

"We are delighted that Stephen Ujlaki has joined the cinema faculty as professor and department chair," said Keith Morrison, dean of the SFSU College of Creative Arts. "His enthusiasm, movie industry connections and experience as a film producer bring forth an exciting new era of leadership and stability to our world-class Cinema Department. Stephen is sure to be a valuable asset to our students, faculty and the community at large for years to come."

Ujlaki was most recently president of Panarea Productions, where he produced such feature films as "Loch Ness" (Ted Danson), "Hot Spot" (Don Johnson, directed by Dennis Hopper) and "Courage Mountain" (Charlie Sheen) as well as numerous HBO feature films including "Stiletto Dance" (Eric Roberts), "Xchange" (Stephen Baldwin) and "Hostile Intent" (Rob Lowe).

Previously, Ujlaki headed the European Feature and Television Production division for Stone Group France, a production studio owned by actor Michael Douglas. Reporting directly to Douglas, Ujlaki was responsible for bringing productions to the studio, managing film budgets, overseeing co-production partners and managing all personnel and film crews.

As vice president of development and production for HBO Pictures from 1983 to 1988, Ujlaki supervised script development, production and post-production for more than 25 films including "Baja Oklahoma" (Julia Roberts), "Last Innocent Man" (Ed Harris) and "Act of Vengeance" (Charles Bronson).

Ujlaki was drawn to the Cinema Department due to its location in a city he loves and the department's reputation for presenting edgy, innovative works by emerging filmmakers - not to mention the fact it is one of the most affordable film schools in the United States.

Ujlaki would like the department to get a little more "Hollywood," building on its tradition as a strong training ground for independent filmmakers. While cinema is the eighth most popular major at SFSU, Ujlaki wants to recruit more of the nation's top film students who would normally attend UCLA, University of Southern California, New York University and other acclaimed film schools.

"San Francisco State can be known as more than just the 'independent film school,'" said Ujlaki, who founded the film program at Franconia College in New Hampshire and has also taught at the American Film Institute and Brandeis University. "A degree in cinema could also provide a wealth of career opportunities in the film industry. If one does not wish to pursue a completely independent path, there are many other marketable skills that can be developed into such careers as writing, producing, editing, directing and post-production."

Ujlaki, who will teach courses in film producing and financing, also plans to use his connections to the film industry to raise funds for new equipment.

Founded amid the political activism and artistic experimentation of the 1960s, the SFSU Cinema Department has educated generations of filmmakers including Academy Award winners Christopher Boyes (Best Sound Effects, "Titanic," 1998), Steven Zaillian (Best Screenplay, "Schindler's List," 1994) and Steve Okazaki (Best Short Documentary, "Days of Waiting," 1991).

Films and videos produced by cinema students have screened at such prestigious festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, Telluride and the San Francisco International Film Festival, receiving awards from the Directors Guild of America, American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Kodak and the Princess Grace Foundation.

SFSU animation alumni have also made significant contributions to the Bay Area's cutting-edge animation industry, working at such companies as Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Wild Brain and Pixar.

The College of Creative Arts has the only academic program primarily devoted to the creative arts in Northern California. An internationally acclaimed faculty directs 3,185 undergraduate and graduate students in eight departments: Art, Cinema, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, Music, Dance, Theater Arts, Design and Industry, and Inter-Arts. Students have access to five performing arts auditoria, a new 3,200 square foot professional art gallery, cable radio KSFS, cable TV, three TV studios, a sound recording studio, a new 50 by 50 foot shooting stage, an animation studio, multimedia production areas, a multimedia dance studio, Macintosh laboratory, an advanced computer imaging center and an electronic music laboratory, among other facilities. The College of Creative Arts is part of San Francisco State University, one of the 23 member universities comprising the California State University, the largest system of higher education in the nation. The fourth largest campus in the system, SFSU is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public and urban university. For an application, please call Admissions at (415) 338-1113.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Ujlaki may be contacted directly at (415) 338-7612.

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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs