Reel Women: Editor, founder & president of Hootenanny, Liz Tate

Liz Tate
Liz Tate (credit: Deb Klonk)

Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like creative editor, founder/president of Hootenanny, Liz Tate.

Liz Tate is a storyteller. Liz is a business owner. Liz is a feminist. And all those qualities bring a unique vision to the editorial pieces she creates. 

Liz graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in Radio/TV/Film and began her career at the film editorial house Avenue Edit as a film assistant. Her experience as an editor and head of the editorial department at that firm prepared her to open her own studio Hootenanny, one of the few woman-owned post houses in the country.

As an editor for over 30 years, she has worked on campaigns for Coca-Cola, American Express, Marlboro, and McDonald’s. She most enjoys working on documentary profiles, where her strengths of logic and creativity combine to create compelling stories.  Liz also enjoys being a business owner, where she can foster the careers of younger talent.

Let’s meet Liz.

How did you get into post-production?

I had just graduated film school at Northwestern but didn’t have a real idea of where I was going with that degree. I lucked into an interview for an assistant editor position at Avenue Edit and went to the interview completely ill-prepared- forgot my resume, dressed too formally, didn’t research anything about the company— and got the job. I loved everything about my new position- the skills, the atmosphere, and the interactions with clients. I learned to be an editor at that job and went on to make it my career. 

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?

I always loved the creative arts, but I didn’t have any aptitude as a visual artist. My husband will tell you not to be my partner in Pictionary. I pictured myself having a career in an English or arts adjacent field, like a copy editor. I got the bug for filmmaking in high school when some college students had me PA on a film shoot. And I learned later on that editing was a perfect match for my skills of organization, storytelling, and running a room. 

Who were your mentors? 

I have had 2 mentors in my career. The first one was Rick Ledyard, the owner of Avenue Edit. He taught me how to be a great boss: to treat people well and have their best interest at heart. He was also a strong proponent of promoting women in the industry. And Producer Pat Douglass was one of my first clients. She taught me to have confidence in my decisions and never be afraid to speak up. She was a great role model for me.

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date? 

While every business goes through some rough times, the pandemic in 2020 was definitely the most challenging for Hootenanny. My biggest achievement was realizing the seriousness of the situation and jumping into action to make sure that we would survive as a company. Thankfully, we had some great clients that helped us when times were tough. And here we are after 15 years, moved into a beautiful new space and firing on all cylinders.

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with.

Coffee: Amelia Earhart — I love that she didn’t conform in any way to how a woman should dress, speak or live her life.

Lunch: Mavis Staples — an amazing voice and activist, and so full of joy.

Happy Hour: Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, my guitar hero.

What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV? 

I’m late to the party, but I just watched the entire run of Pamela Adlon’s Better Things and I was so impressed with the storytelling and characters. I loved that there was rarely a narrative thread from episode to episode. And her portrayal of a mother with all of her love, weirdness and faults just felt really modern to me. 

When you’re not creating, what do you do in your time off? 

I love being outdoors. I try to get outside as soon as I wake up. So being in nature and using my body to hike, kayak, ski or walk in the woods and mountains is my favorite way to spend my time.

What keeps you up at night?

A dog, if I had one.

Hootenanny offices
328 S. Jefferson


Michelob “Ultra Anthem”



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