Carl Kurlander

  • Teaching Professor

Carl Kurlander is a screenwriter, TV writer/producer, and documentary filmmaker.  His credits include the film St. Elmo's Fire, numerous episodes of NBC's Saved By the Bell franchise, and documentaries/docu-series including the Starz television series The Chair which won the  Drama Critics Award for best reality program, A Shot to Save The World about the development of the Salk polio vaccine which won the CINE Golden Eagle Award for best scientific program, and Burden of Genius about transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl which has won several Best Documentary prizes and continues to screen around the world. These latter two films began with the involvement of Pitt students as part of "Making the Documentary" courses Carl has taught which has also lead to student-produced documentaries on George Romero and Pittsburgh: The Early Years and one on August Wilson and The Hill which is documenting the restoration of August Wilson's childhood home.

Carl's own journey from Hollywood back to his hometown was chronicled in the documentary My Tale of Two Cities which told the story of how the city which built America with its steel and invented everything from the aluminum can to The Big Mac was forced to reinvent itself for a new age. Carl has been active in trying to create opportunities for Pitt students, the University, and the region through building bridges between Western PA and the entertainment industry and telling compelling Pittsburgh stories. He is the founding director of the Pitt in LA program taught at Lionsgate and the founding producer of the Pittsburgh Lens spoke at the Center of Creativity where in addition to producing and directing the film Chasing Covid and working on a project about young people, mental health, and their families, he helped develop programs such as the PITTch story initiative and PITTch Film Labs to give students hands-on, learning opportunities with film and television professionals.

Carl's passion for filmmaking, storytelling and teaching are reflected in the courses he teaches which have included Screenwriting and Narrative, Elements of Screenwriting, Intermediate Screenwriting, Introduction and Intermediate Fiction Writing, Freshman Composition as part of the Film Community, Introduction to Film, Film Analysis, Film Comedy, Pittsburgh and Film, Producing, and the American Film and Television Industry.   

Carl is also the faculty adviser of the student organization Pitt in Hollywood which has brought to campus leading figures from film and television, created networking opportunities which have led to scores of students getting jobs and internships, and established the Pitt Stars Award which honors Pitt alumni who have given back to Pitt students and the University of Pittsburgh community. One of the most gratifying parts of this journey for Carl has been watching his former students continue to help mentor and support current students and nurture them in their own careers. 

Kurlander is the co-author with comedian Louie Anderson of The F Word: How to Survive Your Family and has written numerous articles for the Los Angeles Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and The Conversation which have been reprinted around the world

For more about Carl, please visit