Bruce Davis, former Executive Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the organization that puts on the Oscars) is not only a film connoisseur, but a 1965 Juniata graduate. He came to visit Juniata in October to talk film, Hollywood, and Juniata memories. Between guest lecturing classes, Davis found time to talk with me about his life during and after Juniata, and some of his favorite memories of college life.
What is your fondest Juniata memory?
As both a student and professor, I loved playing football on Mountain Day when there was a faculty/student game. It was very serious touch football with lots of payback for grades that had been issued. And in the spring, teams of students would build rafts, and they had to figure out how to propel it down the river themselves. The faculty would be there in canoes as judges to award prizes for intricacy of design. We were very bribable: and if you gave us cups of beer, we would up your score.
Why did you choose Juniata?
I was expecting to be a doctor, and I had two relatives who’d had successful careers at Juniata. About halfway through first semester freshman year, I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor, and I got interested in literature and the arts. At the time, Juniata wasn’t very strong in that department, but I’d picked my college. It was a terrific education.
Who was your most inspiring professor at Juniata and why?
Steve Barbash was the former head of the art department. He was a very dynamic character who got you to see art in a different way. He introduced a subversive and energetic element that was good for campus. My approach to teaching was directly influenced by his example.
What made you decide to quit teaching and go to Los Angeles?
I was just at a point in my life where was ready to try something new. I thought, “Okay, let’s see. I’m 37 years old. I’ll give this a couple years and see if anything happens.” I knew I wanted to be in the film business, but then the Academy wasn’t on the radar. When the Academy came along and made an offer, I took it. I’ve only had two full time jobs and I loved them both—I’m a lucky guy.
Do you think you’ll go back to being a professor now that you’ve retired from the Academy?
I think there’s every reason to expect that my wife and if will stay in Los Angeles. So if I were going to teach, I would probably teach in one of the many colleges in the area. I don’t know if I want to commit myself to a formal course structure though. I’m doing research for a book, on the Academy, and that’s going to be a more time consuming project.
Which job did you like more: teaching or your position at the Academy? Why?
The academy was very demanding in terms of time. You start in the morning and go on into the evening most days. But you didn’t have to grade papers, so that gives it the edge.
Interview conducted by Ellen Santa Maria ’12, Wallingford, Pa.
1 Comment on "California Dreamin’: Hollywood Insider and Juniatian Talks College (and Film)" »
January 25, 2012 at 11:27 am Juniata Magazine - Extra pingbacked: