Alex Goetz

Alex Goetz

Wildlife Filmmaker and Photographer

June 28, 2019


Co-Founder of Running Wild media


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

The past few years I’ve been fortunate to work with some really passionate wildlife and conservation organizations around the world. My film partner and co-founder of our production company Running Wild Media, Justin Grubb, and I have been creating short films about different wildlife and conservation topics, and in 2015 one of our short films was selected by National Geographic as a Wild to Inspire film competition finalist. Unfortunately, we didn’t win that year, but in 2016 we submitted a new short film and won. After that, we went to shoot for National Geographic in Africa, and ended up spending 5 weeks driving around four different African countries in a safari truck, sleeping in national parks and reserves filming wildlife all day long.

I worked for the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium a few years ago on a documentary about the conservation work going on with Tasmanian Devils over in Australia. That was really my first jump into a longer program, where we created a 24 minute piece for WGTE-PBS which was nominated for two Lower Great Lakes Region Emmys. Getting to film around Tasmania for a little over there weeks was amazing, seeing some animals that I’ve never even heard of before during my time there.


What current projects are you working on?

The experience with National Geographic has really launched my current career. I’m now full time working on our production company, creating educational conservation content for different wildlife and conservation organizations.

We’re wrapping up editing on a 20 minute film right now about the American red wolf, a species of wolf that historically used to be found all over the southeastern United States. Unfortunately, in the early 1900s, the U.S. government would pay you to hunt predator species of animals (bears, cougars, wolves, etc.), and that really drove this species to near extinction. U.S. Fish and Wildlife and a handful of partners capture the last remaining wild red wolves they could find in the wild, and took them into captivity to begin breeding them and building a reserve population to reintroduce into the wild. They successfully reintroduced these red wolves, years before grey wolves were reintroduced back to Yellowstone National Park, but unfortunately due to misinformation about wolves in North Carolina where they put red wolves back, people went out and poached the majority of the new wild population. Bringing numbers that had gotten to around 150 back down to around 30 currently.

Once we complete this film, we will be doing screenings of it around the U.S. in areas that this wolf used to historically be located at, to try and change people’s perceptions of wolves. 

I’ve been doing a bunch of videos for Metroparks Toledo, one in particular that I’m really excited about is filming raptors (birds of prey) here in NW OH. I filmed at a barred owl and great horned owl nest for about a month, watching the chicks grow up and eventually leave the nest. We’re in talks to do some really fun videos with them in the next 6-12 months as well, so keep an eye out!

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

I tell people all the time that I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for Toledo. The community here, the people who helped me when I made the jump to full time working for myself, and the cost of living, made this all possible, and I’m so grateful. We hope that as we continue to make new content, we can begin to offer screenings and events showcasing the work we’re doing and give the people of Toledo and Northwest Ohio new opportunities to see wildlife and conservation efforts from around the world.

I tell people that if you have a passion for something and want to create a business or work for yourself, this is the place to do it. If I were in a bigger city, I’d have to be working a job or two to be able to just pay my rent, but the affordability plus the quality of living here has made my career path possible.


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

I think my greatest success currently is the experience I mentioned above that we had with National Geographic. Wildlife filmmaking is all about patience and perseverance, and so is building a career in the field. Not winning the first year we submitted was hard, it felt like we weren’t making what Nat Geo wanted and I felt like I had failed. But after my friends and family pushed us to create a new video and submit again, and we won, that really meant a lot.


Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

There are a lot of wildlife filmmakers and photographers I follow who inspire me, but really, a lot of my inspiration comes from my peers here in Toledo and the developments I see downtown in the community. Seeing the city growing, people starting businesses, meeting people doing amazing things in Northwest Ohio, that really inspires me to share the work that I’m doing with the world and continue to learn and grow.


Tell us about your background.

I’ve always had a passion for wildlife, and growing up I had the typical kidcareer goals: be a zoo keeper, be a veterinarian, be a marine biologist and cuddle sea otters all day. But as I went through school, it became very apparent that my brain was not built for numbers and scientific studies. It wasn’t until I watched my first episode of Planet Earth years ago, that I was like, “people get paid to film animals??” That’s when it really kicked off. I loved film and photography, and it just fit together perfectly.


Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

I don’t know if it’s a specific motto or favorite quote, but just knowing that I have one life to live (as far as we know!) and only one opportunity to do what I love, and not spend 45 hrs a week working a job I’m not happy at, is motivating.

Favorite place for local culture?

This is really tough, does a coffee shop or bar count? I love meeting new people and hearing about people’s stories and what they’re doing here in town. I think those are the best places to experience local culture.


Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

I have a network of secret free parking spaces around town. This doesn’t help readers very much, but to anyone upset about free parking at lunch going away, I think they just need to get adventurous and be willing to walk an extra block or two!


My favorite place to chill locally is . . .

Any place with coffee. I bounce around between the Plates (one and 21), Maddie and Bella and Black Kite.


My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .

Secor Metropark is a great space for seeing wildlife, it has a little less traffic than its neighbor Oak Openings which is perfect to stumble upon some animals. Pearson Metropark as well has some great birds over there like Marsh hawks and Kestrels you can watch.


When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . .

Home sleeping. I traded in a 40 hour a week job working for someone else for an 80 hour a week job working for myself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I think I would like for larger companies and businesses, as well as individuals looking to buy work from local creatives, to realize the importance of paying people like us for our services. There’s a lot of people I still run into who don’t value creativity because it’s sometimes not a tangible thing, or because the return on investment isn’t always concrete. We have an AMAZING city of creatives. Once people start to realize how important art is, quality content on their website or social media, or the look of their building exterior and interior is, they will start to pay people their worth.

But also, buy everything you can locally. Support the community. Yes, it may be a bit more, but it’s staying here in town and helping an individual rather than a big business.

On the other side of things, I think it’s important for our creatives to expand what they think their market is. Living in Toledo but making work for people outside of Northwest Ohio is important. Tapping into larger markets and using the internet to sell your work elsewhere is so important. Sometimes there may not be a demand for your work here in Toledo, but different cities may be dying for your work.


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Hmm… nothing that I think I can publicly talk about right now, but we’re in talks with a couple networks about creating wildlife content for them. So if everything goes well, we may be doing some projects for some bigger television networks. We’re always doing some social media posts over on National Geographic WILD, which is fun. I’m really excited for some of these new projects we’re discussing with Metroparks Toledo. I’ve wanted to do more in my own backyard to showcase wildlife here, rather than just showing people animals they have to travel far to see. We have some amazing animals here in NW OH, so I hope to inspire people to learn and appreciate what we have here.


Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I think I would be crazy to say that I don’t hope to one day do a shoot with David Attenborough. I don’t know what I would even to say to the man, he’s just a legend.


Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Vimeo is one of my favorite websites for seeing what is trending in the filmmaking world.


3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Sometimes overly ambitious.


Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

In no particular order:

1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack
2. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! At the Disco
3. Damn. by Kendrick Lamar
4. Guardians of The Galaxy Soundtrack
5. Some miscellaneous jazz mix album
(A slightly weird collection of albums, but they’re all to maintain my sanity)


My biggest vice is . . .

Anything sweet. I have an unstoppable sweet tooth. The only solution is to never bring sweets into my home.


I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

A rock climbing gym!


What’s the last dream you recall having?

No idea!


The last lyric that moved me was . . .

But he's just twenty-five,
And he got his money, right?
So I told him "don't rush, just give it some time"
Just give it some time
- 24/7 by The Neighborhood


One movie character I identify with is . . .

Probably Mr. Frederickson from Up, minus being grumpy. He was just a young boy in love with adventure and his girl. Eventually grew old, rocked a dope blazer, and went on his big adventure


The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

Anything camera related, my wife has gotten me too many awesome things


My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

Recently I spoke to high school biology students in Fort Wayne about my career with wildlife filmmaking, and one kid afterward told his teacher that I inspired him to want to do film with his life. I think little moments like that help motivate me.


I want my last meal to be _______________.

Chicken Masala from Tandoor <3


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