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Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

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David Szabo Collection, 1948-1982

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Collection Identifier: C.2016-02
Extent of collection
69 reels of 16mm film totaling 16,800 feet; 29 reels of 8mm film totaling 2,675 feet.
Inclusive Dates
1948 - 1982
Bulk Dates
1967 - 1981
The David Szabo Collection is mainly comprised of films and ephemera from David Szabo's time as a student at Columbia College in the late 1960s and his time as a freelance editor and partner of the Szabo-Tohtz editing company in the 1970s and 1980s. Included are distributed prints that are unclear as to Szabo's involvement, 16mm films and intermediate materials Szabo worked on during his time at Columbia College, advertisements he worked on as an editor in the 1970s and 1980s, and 8mm home movies dating from 1948-1963.
The David Szabo collection is mainly comprised of materials relating to Four, a film completed from 1967-1969 during David's time at Columbia College, in which David is credited for sound, cinematography, and editing. Other films completed during David Szabo's undergraduate career include Castaway, for which David won a First Place Hugo award at the Chicago International Film Festival in the undergraduate category, and Summer of '69, which is credited as David Szabo's first completed 16mm film. 

David Szabo also collaborated on a wide variety of commercial work during his time as a freelance editor and a a partner of the Szabo-Tohtz editing company. Some of the notable companies whose advertisements David Szabo worked on and can be found in the collection include Kraft, Sunkist, Schlitz, Taster's Choice, Nestea, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Hallmark, among others. These advertisements range from 30-second to 2-minute spots, and span mainly from the early-1970s to the early-1980s. Of notable mention is a short documentary created for the Peter Piper's pickles company, which details the making of a particular commercial, Persnickety, from start to finish, and includes the final commercial itself.

There are a few 8mm home movies in the collection dating from 1948-1963. Presumably, some of this film material shows David growing up as a young boy. There are also a few 16mm films in the collection, such as parts 2-4 of And Justice For All, Child Abuse And The Law, Fla. Me, and A Night At the Sunset which do not clearly label David Szabo's involvement, if any, in their production. 
Szabo, David (created by)
David Andrew Szabo was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio where he studied classical piano and worked summers in a photography studio. At Miami of Ohio University he studied architecture. He moved to Chicago where he completed a film degree at Columbia College in 1970 and won a First Place Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival, undergraduate category for the short film, Castaway.

His early career as a freelance editor included work with Sedelmaier Films, Sarra Studios, Film Fair, Asch and Associates and Kartemquin Films, among others.

Szabo Editing was founded in 1975 at 612 North Michigan Avenue where Szabo soon took on Jack Tohtz as a partner. The company became Szabo Tohtz Editing and continued under that name when it moved in 1985 to 301 East Erie. In 1989, the company became Szabo-Tohtz and Skyview with the expansion to a full-service post-production company in the Time Life Building at 541 North Fairbanks. An accomplished musician, Szabo also established Szabo Productions during this period to create music for commercials he edited—work that helped launch the careers of Brian Reed (BAM Studios) and Alex Wurman (an L.A.-based film composer).

Szabo chose to work in a smaller, more creative environment with Roger Harrison at Cutaways; and when Harrison moved to L.A., Szabo began the new millennium at Swell Pictures before coming full circle, out on his own as a freelance editor once again.

Among his commercial clients, Szabo’s roster includes all of the major ad agencies of the day—Foote, Cone and Belding, Leo Burnett, DDB Needham, and J. Walter Thompson, among others. He worked on national advertising campaigns for Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Kraft, Kellogg's, MacDonald's,  Budweiser, Wrangler, and Hallmark—to name a few.

Among David's many longer form projects are the PBS film, Come Along With Me (JoAnne Woodward's directorial debut), Our Children's War (about Washington's Children's Hospital), several documentaries for the History Channel, and "Backstage at the Goodman"—a series of shorts that interviewed leading actors, playwrights, directors and designers at work on theater productions.

David Szabo’s awards include Clio’s and Addy’s for commercials edited, as well as awards for industrial, corporate, and documentary films. He was honored with an International Broadcast Network Award as "Best Commercial International" for a Blue Cross Blue Shield spot.

For the past 26 years, David has been married to Alida Szabo, an arts management professional who is currently the Director of Audience Development for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Custodial History
Films resided in David Szabo's basement until Alida Szabo brought them to CFA in March 2016.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Chicago Film Archives holds the copyright for the films created by David Szabo. The copyright for sponsored material and commercials was not transferred to Chicago Film Archives and remains with original copyright holder. Determination of copyright for these materials for reproduction is the responsibility of the user.