Hans Charles

Class of 2000
Alma Mater:
Spring Arbor University

Independent Alum of the Day

Hans Charles graduated from Spring Arbor University with a degree in communications.  He began studying cinema at Spring Arbor and continued while at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.  After leaving Los Angeles, Hans pursued his MFA in film at Howard University’s Graduate Film Program.  

While a graduate student, Hans produced his first feature Like Water, but developed an eye for cinematography.  Mentored by cinematographer Bradford Young ASC (Arrival, Selma), he became the focus puller for Bradford’s early work including Pariah, Middle of Nowhere and Mother of George.  He has shot for a range of directors as a camera operator including Spike Lee, and Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom, Sparkle) and has worked on several films including Entre Nos, In the Morning, and Dreams Are Colder Than Death. His television credits also include BET’s The Game, and The Start Up.  His films as a cinematographer have screened at festivals all over the world including, The New York Film Festival, The Urban World Film Festival, the New York City Latino Film Festival, OutFest, the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Zanzibar Film Festival, the BlackStar film festival, and networks like HBO and ESPN.  

Hans is a former professor of cinematography at Howard University, and is a tenure track professor of cinematography at George Mason University in Virginia.  His latest feature work, Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category.

He is currently in pre-production for his next feature film with his creative partner, writer/director Menelek Lumumba.  Hans and Menelek host a weekly film podcast called the Back of the Theater.  Hans also enjoys making music.  On Spring Arbor's campus, he played bass guitar for the school's gospel choir.  Hans resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two children.

My motivation

I am motivated by the unknown.  I never know what opportunities are around the corner.  I try to work and be ready for what is new.

My latest accomplishments

I am the cinematographer of the Oscar nominated documentary "13th."  The film, directed by Ava DuVernay, was nominated in the Best Documentary category.

Next big goal

My next big goal is to executive produce a feature length film in the next 6 months.

Why is choosing your own path important?

On campus, I followed the beat of my own drum. Sometimes you have to be internally motivated to increase the amount of choices accessible to you. You have to be willing to follow a path only you can see, because only you know what will work out for you in life.

Choosing your own path also helps you fight the fear of the unknown. Our futures are uncertain. Because of fear, we sometimes choose what we perceive as safe.  Following the beat of your own drum, your own path, helps fight this perception.

Lastly, choosing your own path doesn't mean you go it alone. In fact, choosing your own path insures you will need help along the way. You can't follow your own path without the explicit help of others.

Favorite place on campus

Ormston Hall

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