Moving Pictures
Sep 02, 2008, 10:47AM

Dark Night Producer Speaks

Michael Uslan is the man responsible for shepherding the Batman movie franchise through its original incarnation in the 80s and has stayed with the films as a creative consultant. He was an executive producer on this summer's Dark Night and recently gave a lecture on how he transformed his love of comic books into the coolest career.

One of Uslan’s most emphatic lessons of the evening was to “take what you love and make it your work.” He learned this lesson from his time at Indiana University in the early ’70s, where he seized an opportunity (in his words, “stuck a foot in the door”) to design his own experimental curriculum. Uslan became the country’s first instructor in the study of comic books, finding himself at the center of the news media’s attention.

Within weeks, Uslan had comic-book giants Stan Lee (of New York’s Marvel Comics) and Saul Harrison (of DC Comics) on the phone. An internship led to a crucial screenwriting gig — an early draft of the film adaptation The Shadow. After creative opportunities dried up, Uslan retreated, selling 20,000 comic books to pay for law school.

His return to the entertainment business wasn’t quite what he expected, however: Uslan spent three and a half years as a lawyer for United Artists, working behind the scenes on such classic films as "Rocky," "Apocalypse Now," and "Raging Bull." “It’s so much better to take a calculated risk than to tell your children and grandchildren what ‘I could’ve been,’” Uslan said, referring to his departure from UA in order to buy the film rights to "Batman." Ignoring Harrison’s discouragement — “it’s dead as a dodo” — Uslan formed Batfilm Productions in October of 1979, but unfortunately Harrison’s warning gained credibility when every Hollywood studio consequently rejected Uslan’s proposals.


Register or Login to leave a comment