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Henry Van Zytveld

I am a 21-year-old filmmaker with 7 years of experience behind the camera and in the editing chair. Scroll down to learn more about my experience and what inspires me to make films.

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My Story

I was born and raised in Rogers Park, Chicago’s northernmost neighborhood. The son of a Chicago Public School teacher and an urban development researcher, I grew up engaging with my city and its many stories. My filmmaking career began at the age of 5 with an absurd home movie I wrote and filmed with my dad for Mother’s Day. Eventually I transitioned to videos of my legos arranged in various scenes as I hummed a John Williams score in the background. Though those videos now draw quite a laugh from me and my family, I believe those experiences fostered my love for all aspects of the storytelling process.

Film Experience

My filmmaking experience and education truly began when I start high school at Jones College Prep in downtown Chicago. I was lucky enough to be instructed and mentored by filmmaker Jake Myers during my four years at Jones. During my time there, I got four years of experience using Adobe Premiere as well as two years of experience using Adobe AfterEffects. Using these tools I went on to make two short films and a short YouTube series. The final film that I made in high school, CTRL+P (2018) served as my college application film and helped me get accepted into the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television. 

 

In the summer following high school I was lucky enough to receive an internship at Kindling Group in Chicago. At this documentary production company I learned a number of technical and interpersonal skills. Not only did I learn about documentary production workflows and best practices, I also spent considerable time creating virtual backgrounds for an upcoming feature length documentary. Using Blender, AfterEffects, and Element 3D, I created environments for subjects filmed on green screens.  During this time I also served as an assistant editor on Jake Myers' feature film Computer Hackers (2019).

 

In the fall of 2019 I began my studies at Loyola Marymount University. During my freshman year at LMU I gained on set experience working as a grip on a number of undergraduate and graduate thesis films. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic cut my freshman year short and meant that my full sophomore year was online. While this presented a challenge for myself and any student, I believe it has ultimately made me a stronger filmmaker. Being forced to think outside the box pushed me to think creatively and explore new mediums. This was especially evident at the end of my fall 2020 semester when I produced my first animated short documentary. While it was something outside of my comfort level, I believe it ended up being some of my strongest work and has fostered an interest in producing more animations in the future. 

 

Most recently, I have finished my first short documentary. The film tells the story of my mother’s experience teaching her 5th-grade students remotely during the initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time, I was home from college and decided to pick up my camera and start documenting the experience. A year later I finished a 14 minute film that highlights what her and so many other teachers experienced during that time. That film taught me numerous lessons about my own filmmaking process and reaffirmed my interest in wanting to make documentary films as a career. 

 

Today, I want to continue to grow as a filmmaker and editor through new challenges and experiences.  Whether it is documentary production, editing, or any aspect of the filmmaking process, I see each experience as an opportunity to learn and develop my skills. 

 

It is my dream to use these skills that I develop to not only tell my own stories but also assist others in the telling of their own stories. While I may pride myself on being a growing storyteller and filmmaker, there are countless stories that could be better told by others. I hope that by developing these skills I can help amplify those stories and voices.

Life Outside Film 

I also have a number of hobbies and passions outside of filmmaking. Whenever I travel I enjoy bringing along my analogue film camera to experiment with and document the locations that I visit. In addition to art related hobbies, it is important for me to get my energy out through physical activities.  I grew up loving to ride my bike up and down my street and eventually around my neighborhood. Today, that passion has led me to spend my free time not only cycling but also competing in the occasional triathlon. In addition to cycling, I’m an avid soccer fan. While I no longer play on a competitive team, I enjoy weekly pick-up games with my friends and neighborhood. More recently I have joined the Red Line Supporters Group as a way to further my support of the Chicago Fire Football Club. Whether it be cycling, photography, or soccer, all of my hobbies allow me to connect with the places that I call home and the people that share those locations with me.