Carl Kurlander

  • Senior Lecturer

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 on the film festival circuit.  These latter two films began with the involvement of Pitt students as part of "Making the Documentary" courses Carl has taught with a third Pittsburgh-themed, student-produced documentary having premiered virtually on February 4th, 2020 on George Romero and Pittsburgh: The Early Years.  

Since accepting a serendipitous offer to return to his hometown to teach at the University of Pittsburgh for what he thought would be a one-year Hollywood sabbatical, Kurlander has subsequently taught courses including Screenwriting and Narrative, Elements of Screenwriting, Intermediate Screenwriting, Fiction Writing, Freshman Composition as part of the Film Community, Film Analysis, Film Comedy, Pittsburgh and Film, Producing, and the American Film and Television Industry.   

Kurlander is the founding director of the Pitt in LA program which he has taught both at Lionsgate Entertainment in Santa Monica and virtually.  He is also the founding producer of The Pittsburgh Lens at Pitt's Center for Creativity.

Both are part of Kurlander's ongoing efforts to bridge the University and the entertainment industry which began when he became the faculty adviser of the student organization Pitt in Hollywood which has brought to campus over sixty speakers from film and television, connected scores of students to internships and jobs, and led to Carl co-founding the non-profit Steeltown Entertainment which helped catalyze Pittsburgh as a player in the entertainment industry and developed innovative youth and media programs.

In 2020/2021, Kurlander helped The Center for Creativity launch the PITTch Story Initiative which gave participants a chance to learn from industry professionals how stories are developed into film and television show.   The  Pittsburgh Lens most recently produced Chasing COVID, a new half hour film which gave viewers an inside look at how Pitt's Center for Vaccine Research collaborated with labs about the world to help combat coronavirus.   After a virtual premiere on April 12th to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Salk polio vaccine, the film is being used to help inspire young people as part of the Take a Shot At Changing The World viral video contest. 

Kurlander is also 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.   Carl's journey from Hollywood to Pittsburgh was also the subject of the feature documentary, My Tale of Two Cities, which also documented Pittsburgh's comeback story which played 26 cities across North America.