I had the pleasure of being involved as a student in a number of classes that Oliver taught during his time at Northwestern University. I was an undergraduate Radio/Television/Film major during his years at the school and after graduation I went on to found a documentary production company based in Israel.
It was in Documentary Production where Oliver carefully brought students into what was for him an already familiar and intricate world of purposeful, ethical, and potent storytelling. After many candid conversations on a bench in front of our department building, his guidance was the single greatest outside factor in contributing to the successful creation of my documentary, "Devil's Symphony."
Oliver had the insight and courage as a teacher to not let me stop at the first manifestation of an idea. Or the second. He insisted that a student develops his or her work not only as an exercise suitable for the learning process, but as a far-reaching and valid piece ready to move outside of the classroom. "Devil's Symphony" went on to be sold in dozens of countries and became a standard for discussion in tinnitus, a subtle yet life-changing medical condition, and is still used today as a tool by tinnitus support organizations around the world.
A year later, in the Advanced Directing sequence, Oliver was an insightful mentor throughout the conceptual, scriptwriting, and auditioning process - always willing to provide non-judgemental but valid and vital feedback. Drawing from the vibrant background of his own work, he was able to provide every student with the specific mind-set needed during the dedicated process of creating and directing a narrative short film. The dozen or so students involved in that intense framework all greatly appreciated the focus on character craftsmanship that Oliver demanded.
Every project I work on today is influenced by the groundwork that Oliver provided, both through theory in lecture and through hands-on film work. The highly responsive and delicate processes that we were immersed in, were all the richer because of Oliver's teaching. I would be envious of any student who could benefit from the guidance of a classroom-based experience with Oliver as teacher and mentor.