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Ottman, John (b. 1964)  
 
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Between 1981 and 1983, Ottman created with his friend Bud Robertson a particularly ambitious film--Ultimatum, a 61-minute thriller about an alien race that tries to colonize the earth. Premiering at Gunderson High School in June 1983, the film was enthusiastically reviewed in the San Jose Mercury News.

In 1982, while studying film at DeAnza, Ottman independently undertook Metamorphose, a 45-minute suspense thriller about a woman pursued by a mysterious stranger, who turns out to be an alien. Foreshadowing his mature interest in psychological characterizations, he did not utilize elaborate sets in this relatively modest production but rather emphasized the range of emotions experienced by the woman. Ottman was responsible for all aspects of the production, direction, and editing of Metamorphose. It was praised by local media for its effective camera work and acting when it was shown in 1984 at San Jose State University.

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Experiences at USC

In order to develop his professional skills, Ottman transferred in 1985 to the prestigious University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Specializing in film editing and directing, he graduated in 1988. While at USC, he gained recognition for his insightful direction of actors and for his exceptional skill in editing films so as to enhance performances. For this reason, fellow students often solicited his help in developing their productions.

While at USC, Ottman established significant friendships with other gay men, which endure until today. While helping a fellow student with the production of his thesis film, Summer Rain (1987), Ottman got to know Bryan Singer, who also was a production assistant on the project. Almost immediately, Ottman felt a very strong affinity with Singer, and they have been closely associated personally and professionally ever since. Largely due to Ottman's intervention, Summer Rain won the student Academy Award in 1987, but its producer decided to switch to a law career after receiving his film degree.

Impressed by Ottman's editing, which gave coherence to a fragmented project, Singer resolved to employ him on his own films. Thus, in 1988, Ottman served as editor and co-director for Singer's Lion's Den, a short film about a reunion of college friends, featuring Ethan Hawke (one of Singer's childhood friends). Shown at the Director's Guild, Lion's Den attracted favorable notice; one of the individuals present at the screening later helped to arrange funding for Public Access (1993), the first full-length professional film on which Singer and Ottman collaborated.

Also while engaged in film studies, Ottman got to know Damon Intrabartolo, then enrolled at the USC Thornton School of Music. Ottman consistently describes Intrabartolo as his "very best friend," and he emphasizes that he enjoys Intrabartolo's flamboyantly out personality, which contrasts with his own more reticent manner.

Intrabartolo frequently assists Ottman in the realization and production of his film scores. Perhaps because he was not traditionally trained in musical composition, Ottman prefers to create his scores with synthesizers and computer programs, employing MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Despite his use of this technology, Ottman largely disdains electronic music, and he relies on Intrabartolo to provide accurate transcriptions for each of the orchestral parts in his compositions.

In addition, Intrabartolo has served as conductor on many of Ottman's most important film projects, ranging from Usual Suspects (1995) to Superman Returns (2006). Ottman has also supported Intrabartolo's own musical endeavors, and he was executive producer for the initial Los Angeles production of Intrabartolo's gay musical, Bare (2000).

Since his years at USC, Ottman has been grounded professionally and personally by his friendships with Singer and Intrabartolo. For many years, he maintained that he was too preoccupied with work to become involved in a more intimate partnership with another man. However, in 2003, he established a domestic partnership with a younger man, who is not involved in the entertainment industry and who generally prefers to avoid the publicity associated with Ottman's work.

Initial Professional Endeavors

While studying at USC and working full-time at a hotel, Ottman assembled a music studio in his apartment from second-hand MIDI equipment, which he used to create scores for student films by friends. After completing his degree in 1988, he worked for seven years at a marketing firm. At night, he gained valuable professional experience by editing and scoring training films (for Ampco Parking and Kwikset Locks, among other corporations) and other short commercial projects.

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