Guy Bauer is the protagonist behind Guy Bauer Productions: a Chicago-based studio — and Dissolve contributor — that dedicates its days to producing branded content, brand anthems, mini-documentaries, and commercials. We asked Guy to share some insight about his work, his gear, and his philosophy.
What’s your favourite kind of work? What’s your favourite thing to shoot?
My favorite work is the kind that makes people feel something. Whether that’s happiness, sadness, fear, or surprise. I get a kick out of entertaining people.
What kinds of tools (camera, development, lighting, etc.) do you use in your work, and what would you recommend?
The older I get, the less important the kinds of tools get. There’s a scene in “Ronin” where Sean Bean asks Robert De Niro what his favorite gun is. Robert De Niro responds that each gun is a different kind of tool and you fit the tool to the job. That being said, we own a Canon C300 Mark II and the Angenieux EZ-1 30-90mm — both are strong tools we stand by.
What tips would you share with people looking to become filmmakers? Or people who are new/interested in selling stock?
Easy! Just start making stuff. Watch tutorials and all of that too. But seriously, I’ve made like over 5,000 videos in my lifetime and there are only 9 featured videos on my homepage, if that’s any indicator. You have to keep making stuff. The more you make, the more you grow. Period.
What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?
We’re in the final stages of a spot for an online mattress company. We took the client all the way from strategy, to creative, to production, to post. I’m really excited about the impact the videos will have on their business.
How would you describe your video/art style?
Like grilled cheese and tomato soup: timeless, fundamentally solid, yet complex as you peel back why it’s good.
What techniques do you use most often?
It seems like every shoot nowadays is on an EasyRig. I find myself going back to very simple lighting, intentional camera movement, and focusing on the performance. Another thing we use quite often is haze — it just adds a layer of drama to everything.
How do you balance your eye for filmmaking with your clients’ needs?
Since I’m being paid, I have to use the tools at my disposal, including my eye for filmmaking, to serve the client. My enjoyment and fulfillment as a filmmaker are important, but in the end everything needs to serve the client because we are getting cold hard cash, baby! That’s why it’s super important to not force creativity on client work where it’s not needed. You have to get that creative energy out another way – either doing films or spec work. We’ve had two pieces of spec work go viral, one of which was our spec spot for PremiumBeat.com
What are your biggest influences? Favourite filmmakers, films, or art pieces?
Star Trek II, III and IV leak into every single one of my projects. I’m a huuuge JJ Abrams fan and am starting to really love Christopher Nolan. My favorite short film is Sunshine because I relate to the main character.
What advice would you give a filmmaker getting into the commercial industry?
Just do it. Here is one of my first paid projects I did 9 years ago. Now here is my newest project. That’s only 9 years! Just start shooting! Look on Craigslist for anyone that needs a video. My first project was $50 for editing a dude’s puppy videos. Start small, think big.
What’s your favourite clip on Dissolve? Can you walk us through some of the process behind it? How do you achieve ‘the look’?
Probably this one. We didn’t use any lights for this shot — just haze. This is a great example of knowing how to really use light and being disciplined enough to know when you need lights and a grip forest, and when you don’t. I feel like this shot is 8 years in the making because a couple years ago I would have tried to over light it. This entire shoot was part of a spec project we did for Warby Parker, about a kid from Baltimore who got a free pair of glasses. We share our royalties with his family 50/50 – they are putting them towards his college!
What does a typical day in the life look like?
Wake up at 5am, hit the gym (that’s a lie), go to the office before anyone gets in and traffic isn’t bad. I usually write scripts and come up with creative during this quiet time. At 9am the rest of the staff comes in and I’m in meetings pretty much all day. I come home at 5pm, eat dinner, work out again (another lie), and usually fall asleep watching a movie with my wife around 9:30 pm. EXCITING!