Ari Golan was born in Chicago, the son of Joseph Golan, former Principal Second Violinist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Judith, English teacher, flamenco dancer, violinist, pianist and harpist. To say he was no stranger to the Arts would be an understatement. A child prodigy violinist at age two he was also a child actor appearing in theatrical stage productions, television shows and feature films. Frequently traveling with his father on international symphony tours, Ari developed a keenness for culture and world travel at an early age, but could never quite get American Airlines to award him elite status.
When Ari wasn’t running track & cross-country, painting, drawing or sculpting, he was making Super 8 movies with his parents’ camera and was the sports photographer and editor for his high school newspaper and yearbook. After graduating high school as an IL State Scholar and National Merit Student with class honors, he went on to study film and compete as a collegiate gymnast at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Initially a pre-law major, he switched his field of study and received two bachelor’s degrees- one in Film/Television and the other in Communication in only three years while simultaneously completing the graduate telecommunications program as an undergrad. He was the first undergrad permitted to teach a course in filmmaking to his fellow U of M classmates and again graduated with class honors on the Dean’s List.
After college, Ari continued his studies at the Sony Video Institute on the campus of the American Film Institute in Hollywood. He then went on to Arriflex & Panavision camera training in Ojai, CA., later receiving additional certifications in HDTV and Underwater Cinematography as well as becoming an accomplished aerial cinematographer. In 1985, Ari opened Golan Productions, a full-service film and television production facility. In 1992, serving as its Executive Creative Director, he separated the Animation, Visual EFX and Interactive Media departments of Golan Productions into a new company, Atomic Imaging, which expanded internationally. In 1996, Ari co-founded JAM-TV, the first live concert video streaming company on the Internet.
Ari’s career has spanned the gamut from feature films and television programs to documentaries, live events and commercials for which he’s received numerous awards for directing, cinematography and visual effects. Ari’s clients and projects have ranged from Netflix, MTV, VH1, AOL Television, Warner Bros., NBC and TNN to Yo Yo Ma’s Silkroad Tour, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s 100 yr. Anniversary and The Rolling Stones Bridges to Babylon. Additionally he directs the live video for all the major Chicago summer music festivals- Blues Fest, Jazz Fest and Taste of Chicago. As a further example of Ari’s extensive directorial experience he has also directed comedic television programs that include “Evening at the Improv” for Arts & Entertainment, “Comedy on the Road” and “Sports Night at the Improv”, “Almost Live with Jonathan Brandmeier”, as well as the pilots “The Living Room” with Tina Faye & the Improv Olympics and “After Dark with Joe Piscopo” for NBC. Ari’s work in feature films include “The Exorcist-The Beginning”, “Richie Rich”, “Ground Hog Day”, “Return to Me”, “Tony Bravo”, “Radius”, “Butterscotch & Chocolate”, “Dhoom 3”, “Caretaker”, “Prank’d” and “Hobbit 2”.
Ari is the co-founder of the Hollywood Camera Work Seminar series, and travels the world teaching Cinematography and Visual Effects to both independent production personnel as well as major studios including Lucas Film/ILM, Dreamworks, Disney Toon Studios and Weta Digital. As part of this endeavor, he has just returned from New Zealand, consulting for Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit 2”.
He is on the board of advisers of the Illinois Institute of Art, providing counseling for their Filmmaking and Visual Effects and Animation programs. In addition, he is frequently asked to speak at various universities and industry events. In an effort to give back to his community, Ari actively supports Adaptive Adventures, a non-profit organization for children and wounded veterans with physical disabilities as well as Bright Pink and Kids Fight Cancer.
Ari has a passion for telling stories through the latest visual mediums, living on the “bleeding edge” of technology. He has won over thirty awards. These endeavors exemplify Ari’s constant striving to achieve maximum results while always pushing the envelope towards excellence. He also enjoys extreme sports, ultra-endurance adventure racing, playing the saxophone and is a rescue diver, helicopter pilot and a Mac.