We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Getz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, why did you pursue a creative career?
I grew up in the film industry. My father is an actor and my mom is a screenwriter/playwright. I always wanted to go a similar path but it took me a little while to find it. At first I tried acting, then photography (a medium I worked in for over 10 years, and went to undergrad for), producing, and then finally found my way to Cinematography. I suppose the “why” is that I’ve always wanted to tell stories in one way or another. It was just about finding the way that fit me best. In being a Cinematographer, I am able to collaborate with a Director in translating words from the page to the screen, and I find that incredibly rewarding.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I got where I am, at first by happenstance, and then by studying and applying myself. I had the great fortune of being able to attend the best film school in the US, the American Film Institute Conservatory. AFI has an incredibly Cinematography program, and while I went in to it with a huge learning curve, it was an intense and supportive environment. It wasn’t easy and I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. Freelance life isn’t a straight line, and sometimes the lows can feel pretty low. In these moments I’m lucky to have a support system of friends, colleagues, and family who help carry me through. I’d like to think that what sets me apart is my dedication to character and story when working on a project. I have always seen my job as a translator and facilitator. I want to collaborate with the director to bring their vision to the screen, to translate the images they see in their head.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am by far the silliest LA local, as I dislike hiking, and that’s usually people’s go to activity. That being said, there is one hike I’ve liked going on since childhood. It is in the Santa Monica Mountains and leads you to a weird compound that was built in secret during WWII. We’d definitely go to Manhattan Beach and Matador Beach. While the beaches in Venice and Santa Monica are nice, I’ve always found the other two to be far superior. The Egyptian Theatre for sure. I love Ye Rustic Bar in Los Feliz, it’s the best dive bar and is always full of characters. To eat, I’d say Jennie’s in Los Feliz, Marsicos Guillen La Playita in Santa Monica, Musso and Frank, because it’s the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, and Meals By Genet in Little Ethiopia. LA restaurant scene has blossomed greatly in the last 20 years, so I’d definitely want to have them explore more places. Having a picnic at Griffith Park is always a lovely activity.
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?
My childhood friend John Alexander was the person who put all of his trust in me to have me as his Cinematographer on his first feature film. It was the first project on which I had served in that position, and it was very much trial by fire. If he hadn’t trusted me, our relationship, and my eye, I would never have gotten to where I am today. My partner Andrew Wheeler, who is also a Cinematographer, is the reason I went to AFI to pursue my path, and is a constant source of support and guidance. My teachers at AFI, as well as the school itself, for teaching me about storytelling and introducing me to filmmaking principles it would have taken me ages to learn on my own. And, of course, my family and friends, who have supported me through all of the ventures I’ve taken in finding my path.
Mask – Brian Douglas B&W with viewfinder – Chad Kotz Portrait with camera – Lauren Guiteras