By DON STINE
OCEAN TOWNSHIP – If you want to be successful in life then get up off the couch and start pursing your dreams.
At least that’s the message that Ocean Township High School graduate and “Batman” movie produced Michael Uslan will tell students next week.
Uslan, class of 1969, will deliver the commencement address for this year’s graduating class at Ocean Township High School on Monday, June 24.
An avid comic book collector,Uslan is best known as a producer of all of the modern “Batman” films to date, starting with Tim Burton’s 1989 film and continuing to 2012′s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“Literally, this year’s graduating class will be sitting in the very same seats I was sitting in when I graduated,” he said.
Uslan gave the graduation speech for his 1969 class.
“So coming home again is important to me on many levels,” he said.
Uslan moved to Wanamassa when he was three years old and then his family moved to the Deal Park neighborhood when he was in sixth grade. He attended the Wanamassa Elementary School, Dow Avenue School, and then the High School.
“Actually, there was no kindergarten in the schools when I was young so I went to kindergarten in the police station,” he said.
Uslan was in the first graduating class that attended the newly-built high school for the full four years in 1969
He then earned three degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington and got a job as a motion picture production attorney for United Artists.
“I went to Hollywood by way of law school,” he said.
But Uslan never lost touch with his roots and eventually raised his family in New Jersey. His son is now a producer in Los Angeles and his daughter is a successful makeup artist.
Uslan said it is very special for him to come home and give the commencement address this year.
And what exactly will his message be for the young graduates? To follow their dreams but expect some obstacles and hard work along the way.
“I was a blue-collar kid growing up in Ocean Township. My pop was a stone mason and my mom was a bookkeeper. And I certainly didn’t know anybody in Hollywood,” he said.
Uslan said he will tell the graduates to follow their dreams and life’s journey but not to have a sense of entitlement along the way.
“I found my life’s journey in Ocean Township and, if you can get out and discover your passion in life and want to incorporate that into your work, then anybody’s dream can come true,” he said.
“But don’t have a sense of entitlement- get up off the couch and knock on doors until your knuckles bleed. The current “Batman” franchise was built on my bloody knuckles. If you have a dream, then have fortitude and expect a high level of frustration at times- but it will all be worth it,” he said.
Uslan said he also will thank several teachers from Ocean Township who were very influential in his early life.
“It was my friends, family and teachers at Ocean Township that gave me my roots,” he said.