Shot By: Dan Hertzog
2nd Assistant
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Dan Hertzog | 2nd Assistant

If Dan Hertzog had to pick just one all-time favorite movie, it’d be the original Star Wars. After all, that’s how he got into “motion picture photography” in the first place. He was nine years old. From that point on, he began amassing books, reading magazines, and watching TV specials with distant dreams of a career in what was then known as “special photographic effects.”

Growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a middle-class family with absolutely no connections to the entertainment industry made gaining knowledge and experience somewhat challenging. Nonetheless, even before he was old enough to work, Hertzog found part-time jobs to support his addiction to filmmaking, eventually coaxing his parents into making the three-hour drive to New York Camera, where he purchased his first Super 8 mm movie camera and projector.

With the means of creating his own movies now in his possession, Hertzog came to realize that without an engaging story to tell, his early stop-motion film would have been nothing more than an exercise in technique. Later, once he arrived at the University of Southern California and was exposed to a greater diversity of films, his aspirations of becoming a visual-effects supervisor slowly gave way to one day becoming a director of photography.

Hertzog graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in May 1991 with a BA in Cinema-Television Production. From there, he rapidly worked his way up from production assistant in Los Angeles to an ad agency producer in New York City. He moved back to Los Angeles in January 1996, only to find himself criss-crossing the country countless times to freelance at a handful of ad agencies, including FCB, Bates USA, Grey, and Ogilvy.

Then, after more than ten years in the ad industry, Hertzog returned to the world-renowned AFI Conservatory to immerse himself in the study of more narrative, visual storytelling. He went on to receive his MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute in December 2004. His AFI thesis film, The Passage of Mrs. Calabash, was later honored at the 2006 Emerging Cinematographer Awards.

After graduating, Hertzog continued to occasionally freelance as a senior and then executive producer at Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles. His many years of hands-on experience in both production and post-production eventually led to stints consulting for ad agencies interested in building out their in-house production capabilities; he shot TV commercials and Web content for dozens of brands along the way.

Some of Hertzog’s more recent work includes the #betterer campaign featuring Roger Federer for the launch of the Wilson Pro Staff RF97, the music video for Alicia Blue’s “Charade,” the pilot presentation for the 1950s family drama Life in Kodachrome, and the dramatic short Earthbound.

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