Office Space: Ian Olney, Professor of Film Studies
The way a person decorates can say a lot about them. In the Office Space series, we go beyond the résumé and get to know York College faculty and staff members through the objects they like to keep close.
Dr. Ian Olney is Professor of Film Studies and Director of the Film and Media Arts program at York College. He teaches classes on film history and analysis, literature and film, and screenwriting. He has also written and edited a number of books on film, most of them focusing on horror cinema.
The first thing that many people notice when they walk into Dr. Olney’s office are the framed movie posters. There are more than a dozen in all, and he thinks they capture his taste in movies pretty well. His favorite decades in the history of cinema—the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘60s—are well represented, as are a number of his favorite directors and stars: Hitchcock, the Marx Brothers, Cocteau, Godard, Lee Marvin, and Fellini among them. The posters also speak to his interest in both the “highs” and “lows” of cinema—you’ll find everything from La Belle et la Bête and La Dolce Vita to Freaks and Gun Crazy on his walls.
Dr. Olney has a sizable collection of books about film in his office. He has been collecting them for years, since he was a college student. He has books on directors, stars, genres, national cinemas, periods in the history of cinema, film theory…everything and anything having to do with the medium. He uses them for teaching and research purposes, but they also have sentimental value. He remembers where and when he acquired and read most of them. And he's proud that the books that he has written on film are among them.
Universal Monster Figurines
Anybody who knows Dr. Olney knows he loves horror movies. He has been fascinated by them since he was very young and has taught classes on them and written about them extensively over the years. He especially loves classic horror films like the black-and-white monster movies released by Universal and other Hollywood studios in the 1930s and ‘40s. He keeps figurines of Universal’s three most famous movie monsters on his desk: Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man.
Family Photos and Mementos
The most important items in Dr. Olney’s office are the family photos and mementos on his desk. There are framed pictures of his wife and two children, along with little notes and drawings left by the kids when they visited campus. He often brought his kids with him to work when they were young—they loved getting books from the library over the summer—and while he was off checking his mail or talking with a colleague, they’d doodle on the Post-It Notes in his desk and leave them for him to find. They’re both grown up and in college now, but he keeps the notes as souvenirs of those visits.