April 6, 2021

Gail Katz to Head the Division of Film & Television Production Division

Susan Arnold will assume new Vice Chair role

Gail Katz, producer and tenured professor at the School of Cinematic Arts, will head the Division of Film & Television Production starting on July 1st when Barnet Kellman's role as Chair ends. Commonly known as “Production,” it is perhaps the School’s best known division, considered to be among the world’s best training program in every aspect of the technical skills needed to make moving image media. The Division is divided into the six tracks: Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, Cinematography and Sound.

Professor Katz is a producer known for blockbuster hits that includes In the Line of Fire, Air Force One and The Perfect Storm. She teaches CTPR 486/479, known as the Straight-to-Series Television Course; a two-semester class that creates polished limited episodes television series, with high production value. Shows that have been created in the class include Coventry, about a former soldier who learns that her memories of wartime experiences in Iraq have been scientifically altered and Side Effects, about a powerful family in the Big Pharma business, both of which have won awards for student projects. Katz’s class is currently at work on Sugar Land, about an African American family from New York City who have been resettled in the Witness Protection program in Houston. It will be ready for air in the summer.

Professor Katz was also instrumental in developing the School’s Virtual Production protocols when COVID-19 hit and in-person filming had to be suspended. Her efforts were profiled in USC News and Deadline. Ironically, one of Katz’s blockbuster thrillers is Outbreak (1995) in which Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo are caught up in the fallout as a deadly virus spreads in a California town. In March she was named Educator of the Year by the Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors.

Also assuming a leadership role in Production is tenured professor Susan Arnold, who will be Vice Chair, a new role created this year. Professor Arnold is an accomplished producer, with credits that include Benny & Joon, Grosse Point Blank, The Haunting, America’s Sweethearts and 13 Going on 30. At the School of Cinematic Arts she teaches foundational production courses to undergraduate and graduate students, introducing them to how sets work and how to create efficient productions.

Professor Arnold was also a casting executive at Warner Bros., and was an independent casting director for many films and television shows. She has served on boards for the Young Storytellers Foundation, which provides children in underserved public schools the chance to create stories about their lives, and the Imagination Workshop at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, which provides life-changing artistic opportunities to the mentally ill, homeless veterans, senior citizens and young people. Professor Arnold received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Luis Obispo Film Festival in 2017.