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Interview with Guy Bauer

November 27, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

Jessica Green

I was a little nervous for my first professional interview with a filmmaker, but was instantly put at ease when I met Guy Bauer in the lobby of his office. We chit-chatted about the traffic and where we were from, but what really broke the ice was when an angry stranger yelled at us while getting off the elevator. Excited to pick his brain about the industry and the digital revolution, we began with how he broke into the field.

Bauer has been writing, directing, editing and acting in his own films since 1998. He got his big break when he was 18 by lying his way into an internship on Comedy Central’s “Crank Yankers.” His dishonesty paid off after the show’s creators found out the truth. They were so impressed by his ‘guts’ that they offered him a position on “The Man Show,” where he worked as a production assistant.

With comedy as his main ambition, Bauer began writing shows, and then eventually documentaries based off of the “True Hollywood Story” model. These docs are what he calls the “ultimate gift” for someone, where as in the “THS” fashion, the subject’s life is put under the microscope. A combination of archival footage and interviews with loved ones, the final product is a gift the subject can cherish forever. It’s grueling work, and according to Bauer it’s something that takes over 100 hours to do- and not cheaply either. But through his company, Guy Bauer Productions, he is trying to work out a way to cut the price point and consult others on how to create this product themselves.

The Guy Bauer Half Hour

His most recent project is a web-cam show that he writes and hosts called “The Guy Bauer Half Hour,” with a new season premiering September 14. The show began in October of 2008, and has been a work-in-progress ever since. All of these projects began as a hobby and then eventually turned into his official business in early September 2010. Along with his show and various productions, Bauer has begun consulting beginners on how to follow in his footsteps from being what he calls an “extreme hobbyist” to a professional in the DIY film industry. One of his biggest pieces of advice is what not to do:

“When I was 18 and wanted to start doing this, I made a mistake that a lot of people make. Before I even wrote a script, I went out and got a credit card and charged over $15,000 on top of the line equipment- and then began filming stuff that sucked. Have a plan before you spend money, because you’ll realize that you can probably do it for free,” he said. Bauer also pointed out how much technology has changed the business, “technology is crazy. A normal person with no money can have a TV show,” he said. “I learned I could buy a $15 million camera or a $5 camera- the $15 million camera won’t make what I shoot any better. You don’t always need the best equipment.”

Technology has greatly changed things on the distribution end as well. Bauer states that the primary way he used to get his name out was through interviews and film festivals- but not anymore. He says that Facebook and YouTube have changed the game- with YouTube being the biggest revolution. It has become accessible to everyone, not just the pros. Anyone can use this technology, and you can even edit your videos on YouTube now. But Bauer still makes a point of saying that utilizing business cards and personal contact still goes a long way, word-of-mouth is a process that he believes is not dead yet.

That being said, the technological revolution has its downfalls, “with new advances every week, it’s almost depressing how you learn something just to have it change and then have to re-learn it,” he says, “it can also be a double-edged sword.”

Because it’s so accessible to everyone, more and more people are doing it. So how do you filter through what’s good or not? Bauer accredits this process to bloggers, where actual human edits take place. They sift through everything that’s available on the web and categorize it so that there’s something for everyone and they know where to find it. Facebook is another filter system- rather than searching on your own for random videos to watch, people are utilizing links and “likes” that people post via other social networking sites. In that sense, your friends and family can be your biggest tool in finding what’s right for you on the internet.

What’s also great about the internet as a medium for communication is that it helps people find what’s local. According to Bauer, Chicago’s filmmaking scene is ‘robust’: “There are tons of people doing projects here,” he says “when I put ads out on Craigslist I get hundreds of responses. It’s not as big as Hollywood, but it’s just as good. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

Contact: guybauerhalfhour.com, or production company: guybauerproductions.com
22 W. Washington St. Suite 1500, Chicago, Il, 60602

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