With the Citroen DS Taxi from Back To The Future 2. 

I'm standing next to the screen used DeLorean from Back To The Future which was produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Robert Zmeckis.

With Biff Tannen's Car from Back To The Future. 

With Griff Tannen's Car (Hover BMW 633CSI) from Back To The Future 2. 

The second film I made at USC, "Won't Anyone Look At My Film" which is about the journey of a student filmmaker in Hollywood trying to get his film seen.  Post USC, I entered it in several film festivals where it won Best Film, Audience Favorite,  Best Director, and even Most Inspiring Film at one film festival. .

The first film I made at USC, "Lost and Found" which is about a girl who commits a crime and accidently becomes the target of another criminal.  The film won several awards at short film festivals including Best Cinematography.

The street where Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly drove the DeLorean down as he headed out of 1955 and back to the future. 

The Cafe location from Back To The Future. I walked inside and looked around. The counter was still there but the interior space was so much smaller than it appeared to be in the film.  At the time, a few film lights were being stored in there. This was before they turned it into the Cafe 80's for Back To The Future 2.

The 1955 Hill Valley location from the Back To The Future films is located on the Universal Studios back lot in an area known as Courthouse Square. If you visit the area today, It looks completely different in 2015 due to changes for productions and a back lot fire at Universal Studios. 

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Another photo from the Universal Studios Back lot party.

Some photos I took during strolls around the Universal Studios back lot  during my lunch break - Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho House to the Hill Valley location set from Back To The Future including the Court House, the cafe, and the memorable street where the DeLorean streaked off into future to the Orca boat from Steven Spielberg's Jaws.  

Some friends who I spent a great deal of time with at USC not only making films but having fun in Los Angeles during our time off. On the left is Ken Bergeron, Jeff Carney, and Bob Ducatte (who played the stalker in my USC film "Lost And Found"). In the back is Ron Fuchs (who played the studio executive in my USC film "Won't anyone look at my film"). You can view both films on this page. Just scroll back up to find them.

With some of my USC Cinema classmates (from left - Joany Kane, Lynn Hockenbury, Jean Noguchi, and Jana Stuparich. Joany is a great friend and very talented writer whose work you have probably seen on the Hallmark Channel (The Christmas Card, Moonlight and Mistletoe, A Christmas Kiss and many more). I was the cinematographer on Joany's USC film "A Knight In LA" and appear in it as the bad guy which you can see below.  You can visit her official site at JoanyKane.com 

Jeff Carney at Paramount Pictures. We would also spend time at other studios as well. One particular day on the Paramount lot, we were taken into a soundstage and we walked onto what was called a "top secret" set.  It quickly became obvious we were standing on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise (but a new version of it). It was a very strange but cool feeling after growing up on the original Star Trek series. Standing on the Enterprise bridge is something not many people get to do.  Star Trek The Next Generation  had just started production. After spending some time on the bridge, we toured the rest of the starship! Capt. Picard's quarters still had wrapping on some of the chairs and props.

Thanks to USC Classmate Joany Kane for this image as well. Another group shot taken at Universal Studios. Our film professor, Don Zirpola (the bearded one in the front row!).

Thanks to USC Classmate Joany Kane for this image. Another group shot taken at Universal Studios. While many of us wanted to work behind the camera, others wanted to act like Adam Goldberg (lower left corner) - He's gone on to act in Saving Private Ryan and the television series Friends.

Group shots of the USC Cinema Film students (1987 Universal Studios). Comedian Doug Bady (far left in the wheelchair) later toured with Sam Kinison's Outlaws of Comedy Revue.

A slideshow of photos taken at our class party on the Universal Studios Back Lot in their studio restaurant for the USC Universal 1987 students.  With  Bob Ducatte (who starred in my film "Lost And Found", Joseph Baldanzi, Ken Bergeron , Cissy Northcutt (who played a role in my USC film "Won't Anyone Look At My Film"  as did  Ron Fuchs ,and Salim Nayar).

A photo I took of the entrance to Amblin Entertainment - the production company for Steven Spielberg which is on the back lot of Universal Studios.  What was amusing to me is that the Universal tour trams would go right past Amblin and not even make mention of what it was or who was there.

Upon arriving at Amblin we were given a tour, met director Robert Zemeckis and ushered into a private screening room. Where we were told by producer Frank Marshall that Steven Spielberg was busy editing Empire Of The Sun and he probably wouldn't get down to see us. They did have a screening set up for the outtakes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom which we enjoyed. Outtakes included footage rarely seen like Barbara Streisand taking over the Temple guard part and whipping Harrison Ford much to his surprise - don't you wish that would have made the DVD/Bluray. I was sitting in the middle seat in the very front row of the screening room when the door opened and in walked Steven Spielberg.  He came down in front  of the us and sat maybe five feet away for what was to be a 10 minute question and answer session. Spielberg ended up being extremely gracious and despite a busy schedule stayed and talked with us for over 90 minutes.

This was not something he had to do. It wasn't something that was being publicized. He cared enough to take the time with some film students even though his schedule was extremely busy. All of this from a chance meeting I had with him in front of the studio commissary where he could have easily blown off the offer of coming to Amblin.  But he made sure it happened. That's the one thing that really stuck with me  - despite the huge level of success and fame he had achieved, he was genuinely interested in meeting with the class.  I get the impression this wasn't the first nor the last time he has gone out of his way for others. A real class act and a legend in film whom you would not be disappointed to meet.

He simply could not have been any more pleasant. I told him it was too bad that he wasn't filming on the lot as my USC class would love to observe. Steven Spielberg then told me to have my instructor call Amblin Entertainment (his production company on the back lot of Universal Studios) and perhaps they could set something up. He smiled and shook my hand before continuing on with his busy day. To make a long story short, I informed my instructor who contacted Amblin and our USC Cinema class was invited to come down for a visit at Amblin.

I'm often asked about the meeting with Steven Spielberg so here are the details as USC Cinema had always wanted him as a guest speaker but he had eluded them. It was July 14, 1987 and I had taken a short lunch that day to sit out in front of the commissary at Universal Studios on the back lot. This is an area not open to the public and far from the famous public tour area of the studio. I just happened to look up to see a bearded man in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts walking past me. Much to my surprise, I recognized him instantly so I said "Hello Mr. Spielberg" and he responded with a friendly "Hello!"  He continued walking into the office building directly across from the commissary. One of my classmates was sitting across from me and she looked up and asked "What did you say?  Was that Spielberg?"  I had to laugh.  It was.  About ten minutes later Steven Spielberg came back out of the Universal offices and was walking in my direction so I approached him.  He immediately asked if I was working at the studio or interning. We chatted for a few minutes. He was extremely personable. 

One of the opportunities that the USC cinema program offered was meeting film industry guests on a regular basis either at USC or usually at one of the various Hollywood Studios. Students would have meetings in a variety of locations, classrooms, theaters, within filmmaker's production company or studio, or even during a post production sound mix. While I was at USC, here is a list of just a few of the talented people which I had the opportunity to meet and experience unique production opportunities.

Steven Spielberg - at Amblin Entertainment (Back lot of Universal Studios) during post on Empire Of The Sun

Robert Zemeckis - at Amblin Entertainment (Back lot of Universal Studios) Director of the Back To The Future trilogy

Bob Gale - Writer / Producer of the Back To The Future trilogy

Frank Marshall - at Amblin Entertainment (Back lot of Universal Studios) Producer of the Indiana Jones / Back To The Future trilogy

Randal Kleiser - Director of Grease and Producer of North Shore / during post sound mix of the film North Shore at Glen Glenn Sound Studios.

Michael Mann - Executive Producer of Miami Vice

Tony Denison - Crime Story

Peggy Robertson - Assistant to Alfred Hitchcock

Paul Verhoeven - Director of Robocop / had early screening of Robocop at USC

Luis Valdez -Director Of La Bama /had early screening of La Bamba at USC

Sheldon Kahn -Academy Award winning editor (Ghostbusters / One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest / Out Of Africa)

Universal Studios - Stage 43 blocking and rehearsal "Out Of This World" (Burt Reynolds / Doug McClure / Donna Pescow from Saturday Night Fever.

​Ralph Sariego - V.P. Television Production Universal City Studios

​Howard Kazanjian - Executive Producer Raiders Of The Lost Ark / Producer Star Wars Episode VI Return Of The Jedi

​Universal Studios - Dubbing Room 1 dialogue replacement for the TV version of the John Hughes film "The Breakfast Club"

Henry Erlich - Marketing Consultant at Paramount Pictures

Post Production Sound Seminar - with Peter Berkos (Sound FX editor and Oscar winner for The Hiddenburg", Jim O'Brien (looping), and Arnold Schwarzwald (music editor)

Set Time on "Private Eye" - John Brolin and Don Calfa (Return Of The Living Dead)

Showscan - with Don Pittman

Paramount Pictures - Taping of "Marblehead Manor" with Linda Thorson (Avengers), Michael Richards

Paramount Pictures - On the set of Star Trek The Next Generation

Burbank Studios (Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures)

Jon Parre 1st Assistant Director and Gary Brown A.D. - Jon Parre (Producer Charmed / Sons Of Anarchy / A.D. on The A-Team  and The Dukes of Hazzard). Gary Brown (Co-Executive Producer Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Producer Prison Break TV series, A.D. on Tales From The Crypt, 2nd A.D. on Miami Vice)

Max Lamb - Writer / former story editor for Robert Wise Productions

Universal Studios Wardrobe Department - with Al Leeman (President of the Costumer's Guild)


The same building being demolished in 2009 to make way for a large expansion in the Cinema department. This included renaming the film program from The USC School of Cinema-Television to The USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Jeff Carney outside the entrance of the George Lucas Instructional Building (1987) University Of Southern California, Los Angeles. This was the first day at the USC School of Cinema-Television.

As part of the curriculum, your time consisted of attending film classes on campus, making films (you had two make 2 shorts), screening films, and participating in their internship (USC Universal Studios course) which gave the students access not only to Universal Studios but we also visited Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers. Your classmates were your cast and crew. So we all assisted each other on our various film projects while you lived, breathed, and slept films 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While I directed, shot and edited two short films of my own which can be seen below, I also assisted several classmates after being asked to be their cinematographer on the films they would direct. My professor at USC was Don Zirpola along with instructors William Sabados, Christine Colgan, and teaching assistants Mark Williams and John Parsons. I highly recommend the Cinema Program at USC. It's the best in the world for a reason. The instructors and atmosphere are fantastic and you simply won't find a better film school.

While I received my AA degree in Mass Communications for Television Production from Black Hawk College and my BA degree in Mass Communications from St. Ambrose University - neither had any film classes. Black Hawk had WQPT (a PBS TV station) and St. Ambrose had their own TV station (SAUtv). I decided the best course for film would be attending the University Of Southern California in 1987 for their summer film course which involved weekly visits to the inaccessible back lot of Universal Studios where you would meet filmmakers, visit film sets in production, and have opportunities to spend time with guest speakers.  USC Cinema's past graduates include John Carpenter, George Lucas, and Robert Zemeckis among many others. The main film classes would be in the George Lucas Instructional building on the USC campus.