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On the Town: Filmmaker’s first paid gig was reviewing for the News-Press

On the Town: Filmmaker’s first paid gig was reviewing for the News-Press
Aaron Wolf stars in his first personal documentary "Restoring Tomorrow." (Courtesy of Howling Wolf Productions)

There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a former employee make great strides in his career.

In this case, I’m talking about Aaron Wolf, who I hired to write film reviews when I was editor of the News-Press entertainment section back in the 1990s.

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The Reel Critics column was rotated between several community members who summed up how good a movie was in 150 words or less and were reimbursed the price of a movie ticket.

That was a big responsibility for a teenager, but Wolf handled the requirements well and even came up with his own style of grading the films. If he saw “Aladdin,” he would use magic lamps to rate it.

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Wolf became interested in the film industry at around age 7. His dad worked for the Walt Disney Co. and brought home a lot of trade publications.

“So I would read the Hollywood Reporter and Variety every night instead of children’s books,” he said.

What fascinated him most about films was the storytelling.

His favorite movie is “Shawshank Redemption,” he said, because he was so moved by it.

“I went to the theater with my dad and I was very young when the movie came out,” he said. “I felt the emotion, and it made me want to make the movie where people feel something and leave a theater feeling an emotion.”

When his mother told him about the Reel Critics opportunity to review films for his community newspaper, he was so excited to be able to do the same thing he had been reading in the trade publications.

“It was the coolest thing ever,” he said.

Filmmaker Aaron Wolf reflects on his grandfather Rabbi Alfred Wolf in the film "Restoring Tomorrow."
Filmmaker Aaron Wolf reflects on his grandfather Rabbi Alfred Wolf in the film "Restoring Tomorrow." (Courtesy of Howling Wolf Productions)

Wolf came to Glendale in the third grade. When he was 12, he started making DVD movies of his own. He graduated from Oakwood High School in North Hollywood and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

He has worked with the improv comedy troupe the Groundlings and has created TV shows for Warner Bros. He has done projects for Disney and DreamWorks as well.

Recently, he co-founded, with Tim Nuttall, the company Howling Wolf Productions, which produces films, documentaries, TV commercials and music videos. Wolf not only writes, but directs and acts in his films.

The narrative films he has directed include “Guest House” starring Michael Gross from the TV show “Family Ties;” and “The Walk,” starring Wolf and Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor Peter Riegert of “Animal House.” His feature film, “Tar,” is in post-production. In that, he stars with Oscar nominee Timothy Bottoms from “The Last Picture Show.”

On Monday morning, he appeared on the TV show, “Good Day L.A.,” promoting his first personal documentary, “Restoring Tomorrow,” to be released in an exclusive run on Friday at Laemmle Theatres in Los Angeles.

He’ll be doing in-person question-and-answer sessions following the screenings at those theaters, including the new Glendale Laemmle at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 28.

The 75-minute film is about Wolf's journey back to the Wilshire Boulevard temple in Los Angeles where his grandfather was a rabbi. The story relates how a community came together to restore the temple.

“We did it for 2018 because, right now, I see a country that is so divided and full of negativity,” he said. “I wanted to show with this film that any culture and all cultures can come together no matter your differences and can build something back up whether it’s a soul of a community or the heart of a city.”

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