John Bak

Assistant Professor
Film Studies Program
Department of Theatre & Communication Arts

562.907.4200 ext. 4298






Academic History

B.A., Harvard University
M.F.A., American Film Institute

Academic Focus

  • Documentary Cinema
  • Screenwriting
  • Film Theory and Criticism

Professional Interests

Documentary filmmaking, fundraising for college and university program development, writing screenplays

Professor John Bak has worked at four diverse institutions of higher education which include a large state university, two elite private liberal arts colleges, and a start-up graduate institute. He is currently the Director of Foundation and Government Relations and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theater and Communications Arts/Film Studies Program. Bak holds an M.F.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies. 

Bak teaches courses in screenwriting and documentary filmmaking for Whittier's film studies program. He brings a wealth of experience to the classroom. He has sold or optioned five feature-length screenplays and is in the process of producing the documentary, A Billion Laughs: The Story of What's Funny in China from Mao to Mini-Golf. He has memberships with both the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the International Documentary Association.

Presentations (sample)

“The Future of Higher Education Funding for the Arts and Humanities.” CASE Annual National Conference for Corporate & Foundation Relations Officers, San Francisco, 2004

“Establishing ecological validity in research on children’s attitudes toward mentally retarded peers.” American Association on Mental Deficiency, Denver, 1986.

"Positive and negative outcomes of labeling children." American Psychological Association, New York, 1979.

Publications (sample)

Bak, J. J., Cooper, E. M., Dobroth, K. M., & Siperstein, G. N. (1987) “Special class placements as labels: Effects of different placements on children’s attitudes toward learning-handicapped peers.” Exceptional Children, 54, 151-155.

Bak, J. J., & Siperstein, G. N. (1987) “Perceived similarity as a factor effecting change in children's attitudes toward mentally retarded peers.” American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 91, 524-531.

Siperstein, G. N. & Bak, J. J., (1988) “Improving social skills in schools: The role of parents.” Exceptional Parent, 18, 18-22.


Documentary: A Billion Laughs: The Story of What’s Funny in China from Mao to Mini-Golf.