We had the good fortune of connecting with Grant Bell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Grant, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Every so often you’ll find yourself standing on the edge of a cliff, and the only way across is to jump farther than you ever have before. You’ll ask yourself a million times whether you should just turn around and go home, or come back later when you’re stronger. But sooner or later you’ll come to the same conclusion, that you have to try. The failure of the fall hurts every time, but the risk is always worth it. Because sometimes you’ll end up jumping farther and higher than you ever thought possible.
At least that’s how it feels! Working in the film industry has been an incredible adventure for me so far, and I’ve found that taking risks has been one of the most common through lines in my story. Whether it’s taking the risk of upending my life, leaving home and moving across the country to give this career a shot, or taking on jobs that are more challenging than anything I’ve worked on before, risk has been a permanent companion.
There have been plenty of times when I’ve taken the safe route and only worked on gigs that are well within my comfort zone. It can be comforting to have some consistency, both financially and also working on sets that I have an handle on, that I can light and shoot without having to really push myself. But then that little voice in the back of my head will remind me that it’s time to make a leap, that I’ve been resting for a little too long. Then an opportunity will come along that starts to make me nervous about whether I can even achieve it, whether it’s shooting my first feature or self financing a creative art piece. And when I start to feel that I have to remind myself that even if I fall, even if it hurts, I’ll be able to get back up and try again. Because after enough of those risks, I’ll be able to look back and be amazed about how far I’ve come.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am continually grateful that I get to pursue my passion of Cinematography every day when I work. It wasn’t easy to get to where I am today, but as cheesy as it sounds I let my love of cinema guide me every step of the way. I grew up watching movies every week with my Dad. It didn’t matter if they were Oscar winners or hilariously bad B-movies, I just loved the way that film could portray what we all experience in our lives.
I started shooting my own movies when I was around 10, and from there begged every teacher I had to let me create a film instead of writing up a power point. Thankfully most would agree, which gave me the permission to plow full steam ahead into teaching myself the technical aspects of movie making. After learning the foundations of cinema in college, I made the decision to pursue cinematography after falling in love with my time behind the lens. I moved out to LA soon after and did everything I could to hop on as many sets as possible, working for free while also creating my own passion projects. Seven years later I’ve been fortunate enough to have shot two feature films, travelled the country for various television shows, worked on art pieces for Vanity Fair, GQ, and Variety, and meet some of the greatest people I will ever know.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That would depend on the person! The beauty of LA is that everything you could ever be interested in is hidden somewhere in the city. But regardless of the personalized itinerary there are a few spots we’d HAVE to hit up. We’d need to carb up with Republic of Pie in NoHo. It’s one of the first spots I found while living out here and you can never go wrong there. Then we’d stop near Malibu for some ocean views at Point Dume and then find an amazing hiking trail, Charmlee is one of my favorites. We probably wouldn’t have too much time after sunset so we’d rush out and grab some Kogi Tacos or hot chicken at Main Chick. Then it’d be time to hit the town! The rooftop at the Ace Hotel downtown always has a gorgeous view and great vibes. If we end up in Hollywood you can probably find me at No Vacancy or Mama Shelter. Or more likely, we’d be frantically googling some new up and coming spot to check out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have found a group of friends here in LA that have not only encouraged and celebrated with me every step of the way, but have become family. For all it’s fun and creativity, the film industry can be grueling. Between the long hours and the sacrifices I’ve made to find work and prove myself, it can be easy to lose your way. But having a core group of people that I know have my back and love me regardless of where I am in my career has made taking risks and finding ways to thrive on set much easier.
The Weeknd – GQ Shoot, NVDES – Bump It Music Video, Soaky Siren – FIFA World Premiere, Lou Williams – Send A Prayer, The Discovery – Short Film Directed by Jill Von Dae