Telling stories has been a big part of Professor Howard S. Lavick’s life. In the classroom he shares his photojournalism experience and love for story telling with his students in LMU’s School of Film and Television.
Lavick spent the early part of his career as a combat photographer during the Vietnam War. While in the Army, he traveled extensively as he covered field operations, ceremonial presentations and hospital visits. He also wrote for the Pacific Stars and Stripes, a daily newspaper that served as soldiers’ main connection to happenings back home and United States activity in Vietnam. Lavick won the Bronze Star Medal for his reporting.
Much of his “off assignment” time was spent getting to know the Vietnamese people. He was often invited to families’ homes, and it was during these moments that he captured his best stories and most humanizing war images. “Despite the war, this opportunity was in many ways the most enriching experience of my time in Vietnam,” explained Lavick.
Back in the United States, a freelance opportunity led him to LMU, where he found a niche in the department of film and television. During the past 24 years, Lavick has served as chair, director and acting dean of the School of Film and Television. However, administrative duties were keeping him away from his real passion – teaching.
“Teaching requires a special patience, but I like working with the students and helping them develop their projects,” he says. “With documentary films, I always tell them you write the story in the editing phase, it teaches them to be flexible and work with the material they have. … There are many different ways to tell the same story. Discovering the most effective way to tell it is the real challenge.”
Lavick has taught everything from film editing to television production, directing, internship and graduate thesis courses. His particular interest is the film school’s study abroad semester in Germany. Now entering its 6th year, the Dusseldorf program has provided SFTV students the opportunity to live abroad and make documentary films on subjects they would otherwise not encounter.
Students have made films about becoming a dancer in Paris, exploring their family’s heritage and the challenges they face while studying abroad.
“Much like my own experience in Vietnam, going abroad exposes students to different world views on culture, society and politics,” he said. “Our Duesseldorf SFTV program is unique and it enriches our students in so many ways. I am proud to be a part of it.”
To learn more about LMU's School of Film and Television, please click here.