Paul Chitlik, UCEAP Madrid 1967-68
UCEAP Alumnus Paul Chitlik is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Screenwriting at Loyal Marymount University and has had a successful career as a screenwriter, producer and director for all the major networks and studios. This year, he has taken on a new role as faculty director, leading a group of nine LMU students on their own study abroad journey in Hungary.
"Almost two years ago, the dean of Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television, Steve Ujlaki, asked faculty to look for ways to broaden our study abroad program. When I told the dean my experience in studying abroad (Madrid, 1967-68) and teaching abroad (Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Australia, Spain, Italy, and France) he asked me to look into programs in those countries. Unfortunately, our students are mostly monolingual, and either the schools in those countries did not have English language classes or they didn’t offer courses that would articulate with LMU courses. However, my department head urged me to contact the Budapest Film Academy (BFA), which is associated with Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), where classes are offered in English because so few students outside of Hungary speak Hungarian.
Cut to the chase as we say in film: This year I’m heading up a program of nine students from our film school. I teach two classes for the BFA in which all my students are enrolled. There are Hungarians (and a Russian) student in each as well. LMU students are also enrolled in other ELTE and BFA classes that are taught in English because so many of their students are from other countries. Yes, outside of class there is a little language barrier, but so many Hungarians speak English that the barrier isn’t very high. We’ve also had some elementary Hungarian classes. Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (and I’ve seen plenty) with a vibrant arts scene (dance, music, theater, painting, poetry, you name it) and “ruin bars” for night life. There seems to be a festival of some kind every week, from wine (terrific) to cholent (a tradition Jewish dish), to documentary films, to international food. Public transportation is superb, and Hungary has borders with six nations, so my students are doing lots of traveling.
This is a picture of our orientation dinner on a boat docked on the Danube, which flows through the center of the city (Buda on the west side, Pest on the east).
My experience in Spain gave me lifelong tools for living, including the acquisition of another language which has helped me professionally and personally. I never thought I would have the chance to be a “Professor Blanco” (the director of the Madrid program when I was there), but it has been a great experience. We are going forward with it next year, and I will be contacting other film schools to see if we can expand the program. Film makers in particular need to experience life to its fullest, but I would say all people do, and a time studying abroad is a great way to do it."