Behind the Scenes

A talk with the City’s media production specialist

For every personality in front of the camera, there are many people behind the scenes telling the story.

At Coconut Creek’s Community Relations Division, John Hartzell is one of them. As the media production specialist, Hartzell helps produce many of the segments that air on CreekTV, Channel 78 on Comcast Cable, as an editor, audio engineer, gaffer and videographer. He partners with city departments to produce public service announcements and with the community, including local businesses, to produce informational and educational videos.

But his most important task is telling Coconut Creek’s stories.

“I have always been one to enjoy people and their stories. We each have one, and each one is unique,” Hartzell says. “They range from the completely unbelievable to the seemingly painful. I feel I have heard the full spectrum of stories in my short time here with the city.”

Lifestyle spoke to Hartzell to find out more about his job.

Did you always want to get involved in media?

I feel like I was born with a video camera in my hand. My first video camera was a second-hand Panasonic Omnimovie VHS recorder from the late ’80s. I made plenty of home movies when I was young. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had a nice side business filming weddings. In college, my interest shifted to filming sports. I’ve always loved being behind a camera.

How did you become the media production specialist?

After graduation, I continued to pursue making commercials and PSAs for small businesses. In 2008, I entered a video contest held by the City. I won first place, which gave me the opportunity to meet some of the staff and commission. They couldn’t have been more kind and complimentary. After the contest, I told my wife that I would love to work with a staff like that one day. A year and a half later, this position opened up. I applied right away and the rest is history.

How do you feel your job is important to the city?

I feel like a local historian. My love for history often has me thinking what will people think of these videos and photos 30 to 40 years from now. I want people to be able to look back through the videos and see the growth of the city. I want them to see who was serving on the commission and when. I want them to see city staff in action and remember the faces who have made this city what it is today and what it will be tomorrow. I want them to see the progression of the police and fire departments. Each employee of the city one way or another, past and present, has had a hand in making this city great. I love being able to document that for future generations.

Watch CreekTV videos on and submit your story ideas to [email protected].

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