After a multi-decade career as a screenwriter (St. Elmo’s Fire), and TV writer/producer (NBC’s Saved by the Bell franchise), Carl Kurlander accepted the offer to teach at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting assistant professor for what he thought would be a one year Hollywood sabbatical.
Instead, the journey has led to Kurlander working with students on various productions and producing multiple Pittsburgh-inspired projects. The Shot Felt Round The World, a film about the Salk polio vaccine was broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel and on the BBC and won the CINE Golden Eagle Award for Science Programming. Burden of Genius, the story of Dr. Thomas Starzl, the father of organ transplantation, premiered at the 2018 Cinequest Film Festival and has won Best Documentary prizes at the Cleveland and Raw Science Film Festivals. The Starz TV series The Chair followed two directors making different movies from the same script in Pittsburgh and won the 2015 TV Critics Award; the documentary My Tale of Two Cities told the story of Pittsburgh reinventing itself for a new age and played 26 cities around North America; and The Rehabilitation of the Hill, a community teaching film which allowed students to work alongside industry professionals in making a feature film won the 2018 Jacksonville Film Festival.
Kurlander is the faculty adviser of Pitt in Hollywood, a student group which led to the creation of the Steeltown Entertainment Project, a non-profit which has helped Pittsburgh become a leading regional production center. In June 2019, Kurlander helped launch the Pitt in LA film program, taught at Lionsgate Studios.