BGSU alum Randy Haberkamp helps prepare for Oscar’s big nightWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Haberkamp is living the dream.
The Bowling Green State University alum works at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that puts on the Oscars annually. He is the director of educational programs and special projects.
During Oscar season, Haberkamp, like other Academy employees, takes on other projects to help out with the nonprofit organization’s biggest revenue maker. Some of his projects include the nominees’ luncheon, the Meet the Oscars exhibition and the official Academy Awards program.
But before the Academy, Haberkamp grew up in Ohio and he remembers his roots.
“I never dreamed that he was going to end up there,” said Marie Haberkamp, Randy’s mother.
She may not have imagined he would end up working for the Academy, but she said she did see a passion in him.
“I think whatever he gets into,” she said, “he makes good out of it.”
Marie also said that whatever Randy starts, he finishes, something he inherited from her.
“I wouldn’t start something I didn’t finish,” she said.
Haberkamp’s love for the movies began while growing up in New Knoxville, Ohio, a village southwest of Lima, nestled near St. Marys to the northwest and Wapakoneta to the northeast.
“It’s about as small as you can get,” Randy said.
The one-stoplight village, in Auglaize County, has two churches and is proud of its strong German heritage, according to its website. The nearby airport is named after Neil Armstrong, a native of Wapakoneta.
Haberkamp’s brother Brian, who is four years younger, and his mother still live in New Knoxville, which is about a two-hour drive south on I-75 from Toledo.
Randy comes home for Christmas every year to the village, which has approximately 800 residents, according to his mom.
As a child, Randy loved making home movies, said Marie, who starred in one of his productions. Other family members would also participate in his projects. Randy follows his dreams and passion, his mom said, and that led him to BGSU.
Haberkamp graduated from BGSU in 1979, majoring in communications.
“It was the perfect place for me,” he said of BGSU, in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “It felt very safe in the sense that there was a community.”
While there, he worked on the newspaper, was chairman of the campus movies committee, ran the University Activities Organization and enjoyed theater.
His love for silent films also blossomed at BGSU, where he’d watch them on WBGU, a PBS member channel operated by the university. He also programmed some silent films on campus, Haberkamp said.
During his summers, he worked at Cedar Point and participated in eight-week theater programs at the Huron Playhouse in Huron, Ohio.
Haberkamp worked at Cedar Point for two summers, back when the Corkscrew had just opened. He said he loves roller coasters and needs to head back to the “best place in the world” for them.
His true passion, however, was film.
“I always loved movies and wanted to make movies,” he said.
Upon graduating from BGSU, he left Ohio to attend graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
At UCLA, Haberkamp earned a master’s degree in motion picture and television production.
He was also interested in film history.
“I’m not stuck in the past, but I embrace the whole thing,” he said of film’s long history.
After graduating, he started the Silent Society, a silent film appreciation group devoted to organizing screenings for the films.
Twenty-five years later, the society still exists, as part of the Hollywood Heritage preservation organization, and Haberkamp is its director.
This year, he is happy a silent film, “The Artist,” is winning audiences’ hearts, bringing him full circle with his love for silent films.
Once out of school, Haberkamp did a lot of temp work until he found a job at CBS.
At the network for 14 years, he worked his way up through the program coordination department to become manager, before being promoted to director of feature films in January 1992.
Leaving CBS in 1997, he then worked as an independent producer, and later as a talent agent for JS Represents.
There, some of his clients included Octavia Spencer and Tate Taylor. Spencer is nominated for an Academy Award this year for her performance in “The Help,” which Taylor directed.
In 2001, a job opened at the Academy for film programming; Haberkamp applied.
“I was lucky enough to get the job and have been here for 10 years now,” he said of the Academy, based in Beverly Hills, Calif.
When the new year begins, it is “a very busy time” for Haberkamp.
One of his favorite projects to work on is the Meet the Oscars exhibition. This year, visitors of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal will be able to hold an Oscar statuette and have their picture taken with it.
“There is something about watching people step up and pick up the Oscar that I find immensely satisfying,” he said. “It’s fun to see people get all excited and see where that statuette takes them mentally.”
Other projects of his include coordinating the Oscar nominees’ luncheon, which occurred Feb. 6, and overseeing Oscar Night America, a nationwide ceremony viewing party program that benefits charities for local communities.
He also oversees the creation, production and distribution of the official Academy Awards program.
During the off-season for the Oscars, he works on special projects and educational programs for the Academy.
One of the most gratifying experiences for Haberkamp is working with students, he said.
The program may only inspire one or two kids, he said, but it’s worth it.
Haberkamp helps produce a high school media literacy program, to help the Academy reach out to high school students to further their understanding and appreciation of movies and the moviemaking process.
Another event this year brought Haberkamp back to his silent film roots.
In January, he coordinated a showing of the 1927 film “Wings,” winner of the first Best Picture Oscar and the only silent film honored as Best Picture. Paramount Pictures unveiled the refurbished movie at the screening and has released it on Blu-ray and DVD. The screening featured live organ music from Clark Wilson, who regularly plays at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus.
All of these events and special programs, Haberkamp noted, are possible because of the Oscars.
The 84th Academy Awards are Feb. 26 and will air locally at 8:30 p.m. on WTVG 13abc. Red carpet coverage begins at 7 p.m.