Pitt in LA: The American Film Industry


Interested in working in the film and TV industry?  Learn from leading producers, directors, writers, executives, and other above and below the line working professionals from Los Angeles. Through unique coursework and speakers, the Pittsburgh-Los Angeles Film Program aims to give a unique exposure to various aspects of the entertainment industry, building on Pitt Film and Media program’s desire to offer “a liberal arts education with professional outcomes.”   
The program will include two three credit courses--  One, The American Film and TV Industry, will focus on the "creative" side of the industry with guest speakers including producers, directors, writers, actors, editors,  etc.. The other class, "The Business of the Business" is an Inter-Disciplinary film, media, and entertainment management course exploring the inner workings of studios, networks and production companies examining areas such as marketing, business affairs, and distribution.. Both these classes will be taught in evenings, leaving students free for internship and production opportunities during the day.  (Please note if you have previously taken American Film industry, other options are available including independent studies.  Contact ckpa@pitt.edu for details.) 
As you can see in the video below, previous Pitt in LA students were able to visit various studios and networks including Netflix, Lionsgate, Paramount and Warner Brothers, as well as hear from top executives at these studios and meet with guest speakers with credits that include "This is Us", "300", "Borat", "Grownish", "Orange Is The New Black" and many more. To get a sense of some of the x producers, directors, showrunners, cameramen, editors, agents, managers, and executives from the 2019 Pitt in LA summer program, watch this video: 

Pitt Study Abroad Presents: Pitt in LA from Taryn Wells on Vimeo.

Students from that program later found employment working on films and TV shows, videos, and documentaries both in L.A. and Pittsburgh.  This program can be a useful bridge for anyone looking to work in film and television or just those interested in wanting to learn more about the behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. . 

The program will be led by Pitt Senior Lecturer and Pitt in LA Founding Director Carl Kurlander has worked as a screenwriter ( “St.. Elmo’s Fire”),  TV writer/producer ("Saved by the Bell”)  and produced numerous award winning documentaries. Kurlander has also helped mentor and connect dozens of Pitt students with internships and job opportunities in the industry.

No previous film experience is necessary as this program is offered for students from any background including graduating seniors.   For questions, please contact Pitt in LA director Carl Kurlander at ckpa@pitt.edu or Study Away director Tim Crawford at timcrawford@pitt.edu

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • Understanding of the American film and TV industry, the various roles in the industry and gain a feel for what it takes to enter the industry
  • An appreciation for the evolution from early filmmakers to the media companies managing today's creative disruption in the industry
  • Understanding of the process by which film and TV shows are made


Program Photos From Previous Years

  • Photo 1: Pitt Alumni Nate Cornett. Photo taken by photographer Kevin Stiller. Nate Cornett is known for his work on I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (2019), Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020), Saturday Night Live
  • Photo 2: "Pitt in LA students at Tilted Productions with Orange is The Black Writer/Producer Loren Morelli
  • Photo 3: Pitt in LA Students on Warner Bros Lot
  • Photo 4:Pitt in LA students on the Paramount Lot with Pitt alums and "This is Us" producer/direct/writer Kay Oyegun and production coordinator Joe Rusin


Santa Monica, California is coastal town located approximately 13 miles from the heart of Downtown Los Angeles and only 8 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport. The city offers a laid-back beach town atmosphere with big city sophistication. The city is comprised of eight neighborhoods offering a diverse mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and outdoor recreation. The city is extremely walkable and the city offers many public transportation options. The city occupies a 3.5 mile stretch of coast line and it's 8.3 square miles are extremely accessible by foot. Santa Monica is a great homebase and is makes accessibility to Beverly Hills, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region attainable. 


Temperatures and precipitation vary based on the season. In June, the temperatures average 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Temperatures cool off at night. It is a good idea to pack a lightweight jacket and a variety of clothes to layer if needed.


Where You'll Live: 

Students will stay at shared apartments in the heart of Santa Monica. Your apartments will be within a 30-minute commute either on foot or by metro to where you classes will be held. It is also a short walk to shopping, dining, entertainment and outdoor recreation. The apartments are full of modern amenities that will make you feel safe and comfortable during your program. Exact housing location will be finalized later in the Spring semester and exact addresses will be provided a few weeks prior to departure. You can expect the following with your accommodations:

  • Double-occupancy bedrooms
  • Four to six students per apartment
  • Fully equipped kitchen with stove, oven, microwave, pots, pans, utensils, plates, glasses, silverware
  • Towels and linens provided
  • Central heat/air-conditioning
  • En-Suite Bathroom
  • Access to washer/dryer
  • Highspeed Wi-Fi
  • Gym access
  • Meeting space/business center
  • Controlled building access

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions.


What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 6 credits on the Pitt in LA Film Program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same courses. The courses will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers including working producers, writers, directors, DPs, editors and other industry professionals, studio tours and more. The highlight is that students will get the opportunity to meet and interview Pitt Alumni who are in the industry and hear their story. Students will have the opportunity to interview, record, edit and produce their own mini docu-series. In these courses you will study:

  • American film and TV industry to learn about its past, present and future
  • Filmmaking process, hearing from key personnel about what goes on behind-the-scenes
  • What it’s like to work at a major studio and how creative/production decision are made.

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you. Information about how the courses on this program count towards general education requirements for different schools and campuses can be found here.


Inter-Disciplinary Studies in Film, Media & Entertainment Management (BUSHRM1684)

In this 3-credit course, students will gain a well-rounded understanding of the strategic, day-to-day operations of entertainment management and creative process. Students will learn from professionals working in various roles throughout the film, television and media business in Los Angeles. The industry looks at the creative process and how it intersects with business operations. The course will be led by executives in the entertainment industry and include a series of guest lectures on key topics related to entertainment management. Students will learn from interacting with each guest lecturer and learning about their day-to-day work, experiences in the industry and transferrable skills. The goal for this course is to give students an overview of all of the potential career paths in the industry both in-front of and behind the camera.

American Film and Television (ENGFLM1545)
This American Film and Television Industry course is designed to demystify the film and television business, and give students a sense of the process and structures in which films and television shows are made and brought to market.  They will explore the roles of the key personnel on a movie or television show from conception to completion including cinematographers, editors, writers, producers and directors.  They will learn from guests speakers including leading practitioners in the field as well as examine the roles of agents, managers, lawyers and executives and learn how decisions are made from greenlight to distribution.   
Students will learn about the history of the entertainment industry from the studio system to present day and consider the disruptions of the film business today. .  This three credit course aims to give a unique exposure to various aspects of the entertainment industry, building on Pitt Film and Media program’s desire to offer “a liberal arts education with professional outcomes.”   For the class, students will be required to do a project which is reflective of what they learn about the world of film and television. 
Hear from students who took the course in summer 2019 in Los Angeles: 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Tim Crawford

Hi Everyone! I’m Tim, and I am the Assistant Director for Domestic Study Away Programming. I have experience running international study abroad programs and programs here at home in the United States. I was fortunate to have many experiential learning opportunities, both international and domestic, during my college career. Being from a small town in Central Pennsylvania, my experiences opened my eyes to the rest of the world and helped open my eyes to different cultures and career opportunities I’d love to help you take advantage of the numerous experiential learning opportunities here at Pitt. Outside of the office, I’m always looking for the next adventure. I love traveling, hate sitting still and love doing anything outdoors, in all seasons. Personally, my family and I are on a quest to visit as many national parks as possible. I’d love to talk to you more about any of our study away programs, answer any of your questions and help you find the right opportunity. Please reach me via email at timcrawford@pitt.edu

Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!

  • Log in to Pathways or use the Navigate app.
  • Select Appointments > Schedule an Appointment
  • Select Pitt Global as the Care Unit.
  • Select Study Abroad Virtual Advising as the Location
  • Select Study Abroad Program Specific Questions as the service
  • Select my name and find a time that works for you!

Don't see a time that works for you? Just send me an email!

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Carl Kurlander

Carl Kurlander,  is a Senior Lecturer and faculty adviser of the student organization Pitt In Hollywood.  Carl is a screenwriter  and TV writer/producer who has worked on projects under contract for Disney, Universal, Sony, Paramount, Orion, Fox, CBS, and NBC Studios.  Since he began teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, his credits include producing "The Polio Story: The Vaccine that Changed the World" which aired on the BBC and Smithsonian Channel,  "My Tale of Two Cities", a comeback story about Pittsburgh which played 26 cities across North America,  "Burden of Genius" about transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl which won the Cleveland Film Festival, the feature "The Rehabilitation of the  Hill", and the Starz TV series "The Chair" which won Best Reality Program from the TV Critics' Association.  He is also the co-founder of the Steeltown Entertainment Project, a non-profit which since 2003 has been helping build a thriving film and TV industry in southwestern Pennsylvania.  



  In- State Out-of-State
Program Cost $6,400 $6,600
Study Away Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $6,700 $6,900

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while away.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 6-Credits
  • Housing in Shared Apartments for duration of the program
  • All program related entrance fees
  • Studio tour(s)/visits
  • Some uber/lyft credit to be used towards majority of academic program-related transportation
  • Welcome and farewell dinner
What Else You Need to Know: 
  • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or visit needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance.
  • Course meeting are typically at night in order to accommodate guest speaker schedules
  • Group work typically takes place during the day for your courses
  • Excursions are mandatory. All are required to attend. Some excursions may fall on a weekend. Keep in mind these are often visits that you would not have discovered doing your own research or be able to do on your own).
  • You will have adequate free time to explore but remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on your courses away as you would on a course at Pitt. 
  • Schedules and housing will be finalized about two weeks before the program. 
  • You will need to bring a laptop or tablet with you
  • Pictured in the main banner is Nate Cornett, University of Pittsburgh, Film Studies Alumni and Cinematographer. His work includes: Ve Panayir Köyden Gider (2015), Ridicule (2013), Funny or Die http://cornettdp.com/ "The Sarah Silverman" "Show and "Drunk History". While at Pitt Nate worked at UPTV and on My Tale of Two Cities. Get to know him and other University of Pittsburgh alumni.