The Catholic University of America

Alumni Relations

George Motz, B.A. 1990, filmmaker and foodie

  


We asked this month's spotlight a few questions. Below are his answers.

AR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.


GM: I grew up on Long Island in Garden City, a suburb of NYC. I'm the oldest of four,
with two younger sisters and one younger brother. As the family grew in later years we collected another brother and sister. We are all very close and all live on Long Island and
NYC. I grew up spending summers at the beach in Quogue, N.Y., where today most of my family lives. In 2001 I married Casey Benjamin and we have a boy and girl, 5 and 8 years
old and we live in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

AR: How did Catholic University prepare you for your current career? Any specific courses that you took or experiences you had while a student?


GM: Catholic University didn't really have a place for me but that's OK. CUA gave me the

room to explore, and explore I did. I was an art major before switching to history with

Professor Poos. I was also a DJ with four shows at WCUA; the photo editor of the yearbook; and I ran the Program Board. All

of these things clearly helped shape my current career in photography, filmmaking, and event production. One class that

directly affected my future career however was the archeology classes I took with Dr. David Clark. In those classes I decided

to film what we were digging for. Those videos actually became some of my first films!


AR: Were there any specific faculty members who mentored you?


GM: Without a doubt it was Dr. Poos' passion for American history that has always stuck with me. I think about his classes

often as I write (continually) about the American hamburger.


AR: What clubs and organizations were you a part of, if any? How did they prepare you?


GM: The Program Board, WCUA, and the yearbook were extraordinarily important in shaping me as a professional. I think
about my time at the radio often as I'm in front of the camera for the Travel Channel. And as we pull together all of the
elements that make up the Food Film Festival I think about my time at the Program Board. And obviously, the marketable
trade I learned working as the photo editor of the yearbook prepared me for 20+ years behind the camera.

AR: What is a typical day like for you as a filmmaker?


GM: Unlike having a "desk" job, the life of a freelancer is basically a string of interviews to shoot the next job. Where some
people change jobs maybe three times in their lives, I find myself selling my talents on a weekly basis. It's very rewarding. It
can be scary as well when you don't exactly know where your next job is coming from. So, a typical day can find me calling
clients or editing films on my home-office computer. I also spend a lot of time prepping for shoots (setting up locations,
discussing shots with clients). 


AR: What sparked your interest in going into this field?


GM: My father bought me a video camera as a high school graduation gift. I shot videos and films with it non-stop. I had no
idea how to edit so I tethered the camera to a VCR and chose shots to lay off to the second tape. I then spliced the audio
line of the camera input and recorded separate audio. It was archaic but got the job done!


AR: Which interest comes first: food or film?


GM: I love to eat, and eat well, but film and photography come first. My mother taught me some of the basics of photography when I was in my teens and I have not stopped shooting since. The fact that I'm working in both the food and film space
equally is a dream come true. I think it's truly impossible to imagine where your life or career will take you. But looking back
now at all of the things that I was involved with, things that seemed inconsequential, have all factored into who I have become
today.

AR: What are you currently working on?


GM: Right now I'm finishing up a film about South Carolina shrimping (that is close to my heart since my mother is from a
small town north of Charleston). We just finished up the NYC and Chicago food film festivals (sixth year in NYC!) and they
were both sold-out successes. And in January we start Season 1 of my new television show, Burger Land, where I visit all of
the burger joints in my book Hamburger America.


AR: What is the most interesting/crazy thing that you have come across in your line of work?


GM: I sometimes feel like the luckiest guy in the world doing what I do. Because I'm a filmmaker I get to go where no one else does, and I've been everywhere -- I've climbed to the top of the Manhattan Bridge, [gone down to] the floor of ground zero at the World Trade Center, and I've sat in the pilots' seat on the Space Shuttle. I've worked with countless celebrities, and have had
the opportunity to be surrounded by priceless, rare art, filming documentaries for Christie's auction house all over the world.
The list goes on and on. I have pretty much taken advantage of every single opportunity that has come along.


AR: Do you keep in touch with friends or classmates from CUA? If so, how?


GM: Not surprisingly, I've kept in touch with Sue Strassburger, B.A. 1989, who works in meatpacking. We were friends since
day-one. I also speak to my ex-roommates often and played in a band with Chris Fisher, Class of 1992, for 10 years.

AR: How do you feel your CUA degree has helped you in your career?


GM: Well, to be honest, the degree has not really had an effect on my career much. It was the overall experience of being at
CUA that had an extraordinary effect on my work life.


AR: What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Catholic University?


GM: Some of my best memories come from the freedom I had a WCUA. Being a radio DJ at 17 years old sounds crazy but it changed my life. I looked forward to those radio shows every week and still to this day tell people that if I could make a career
out of being a radio personality and an ocean lifeguard I'd probably do it!

AR: Any advice you would give to CUA students or alumni looking to enter this field?


GM: When I was at CUA, hacking up video equipment to make films, there was no media department to speak of. From what I understand the department is thriving now and anyone looking to enter the world of filmmaking should get involved. But that's
not the only way. Most of what I learned came from hands-on experience. I would say that anyone looking to take a career in
film seriously should find internship opportunities on real shoots.


AR: Any additional information you would like to include.


GM: Mr. Rooney, may he rest in peace, taught me a tenet of art appreciation that I will never forget. He used to tell us to
"believe in your intuitive reaction to art," that if it didn't affect you in the moment it probably would not later on. He taught us
that your appreciation of fine art was based on your collective moments of your past. Thanks to Mr. Rooney, and that
statement, I know exactly what I like and why. It has made me a confident creative and for that I will always be thankful.

 


















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