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Tom Blank

Growing up in Hinsdale, Illinois, Tom Blank got a start in theater production by way of his father, who managed the Hinsdale Summer Theater. “I started as house manager at 18,” says Blank, who studied film and TV production at Northwestern. “I moved up to producer as a senior in college.” He joined the Navy to avoid the draft, became an officer and served off the coast of Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Later, he was assigned to a public affairs office on Sunset Boulevard, advising the studios. “I read every script of McHale’s Navy,” he reports. When he left the Navy, Blank entered the Directors Guild Training Plan and began a 30-plus-year career as a director, assistant director and unit production manager in episodic television. When work slowed, he took an MA in screenwriting at Cal State LA. Early in 2005, he and his wife Kathy visited the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “She looked at the sky,” he notes, “and said, ‘We have to move to Oregon.’” Later that year, they had a house in Eugene. In 2006, Blank launched a film seminar, Behind the Lens, in collaboration with the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts. This year’s BTL schedule, “Oaters, Tuners and Weepies,” features genre firms of the 1930s. Screenings take place at the UO Baker Center, 325 E 19th, on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm. Find details at the DIVA web site.