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Communication alumnus makes it big in Hollywood

Barry H. Waldman fell in love with the movies, interestingly enough, because of radio.

He used to do radio in high school, but when he got to the University of Miami in 1981, his interest started to wane.

He took one film class, and that was it: “I got hooked, I never went back to radio again,” he said.

Now, 17 years after graduating, Waldman is an executive producer in Hollywood.

He has worked on such films as Pearl Harbor, Armageddon and The Rock, and works regularly with Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, two of Hollywood’s biggest action filmmakers.

“I view the business and career advancement as a master plan-where you start and where you want to get to,” Waldman said.

His latest release was Pearl Harbor, one of 2001’s biggest blockbusters-it has, according to filmonline.com, brought in $198.25 million so far.

Other projects with Bruckheimer films include Gone in 60 Seconds and Armageddon.

Waldman’s latest project is a new film called Down and Under, shot in Sydney and the Australian Outback, and it is scheduled be released in August.

Early in March, Waldman paid a visit to the Cosford Cinema on the Coral Gables campus to participate in the School of Communication’s Communication Week as a panelist discussing working in the film business.

There, for the better part of an hour, along with fellow alumni Jay Tobias and Matt Stein, Waldman talked to students and shared advice on how to make it big in ‘showbiz’.

His first post-UM job was a low-budget horror movie. He was hired as the second assistant director and unit production manager, but those were “titles only,” Waldman said.

“I still picked up the donuts everyday on the way to work while I drove the one winnebago to and from the set. I also had the duty of emptying it at night so we didn’t have to pay the dump fees,” he said.

“It was a long road from graduation to producing, including a couple of turns and U-turns,” Waldman added.

He continued his production career working on a documentary about the war between the Sandinistas and Contras. His work earned him membership into the Director’s Guild of America.

“When I decided it was time to move on to L.A., I made a list of everyone I knew to let them know I was ready to work,” he said.

Finally, Columbia Pictures hired him to work on his first studio movie, The Craft.

“The low budget films in LA are a perfect vehicle to get experience and move up in the business,” Waldman said.

His big break came when he called a producer with whom he had kept in touch and found out about the new movie he was working on-The Rock.

“It was my big chance to step into an A-list picture and show everyone I could handle a big show like this. It was amazing, to experience something on that level,” Waldman said.

“To be standing on the set and see Sean Connery standing in front of you and realize what a great opportunity I had was amazing.”

Waldman describes his current job of executive producer as “riding the fence” between the studio and the filmmakers.

“I work with the director and producer to take their creative vision and translate it to the actual making of the movie,” he said. “I have to insure that we’re all making the same movie.”

Waldman suggests students listen to the professors-both in and out of lectures:

“Ralph Clemente was my favorite professor. I found that Ralph told a lot of stories about the film business, and using that as a guide I would remember some of those stories as I was starting out in my career.”

April 26, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.