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Meet Kenneth Bauer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenneth Bauer.

Kenneth, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I went to film school back in Toledo, Ohio and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.

Knowing I wanted to be in film production, I decided to move out to Los Angeles upon completing school in 2013. I’ve always been interested in photography, so I gravitated towards cinematography. When I moved out to LA, I thought the way to become a Director of Photography would be to become a camera assistant and work towards operating and eventually shooting. However, moving out here without any contacts and not a lot of on-set production experience, I found myself volunteering on a lot of student films as part of the lighting department (mainly as a Grip).

This was definitely an eye-opener for me in my career path because I started to realize the relationship a Director of Photography has with his/her lighting department. I wasn’t that familiar with all the equipment and the way to light efficiently and keep on schedule, so I thought sticking with gripping for a while would vastly improve my knowledge of lighting and help make the transition to cinematography a lot easier. After 2 years of working exclusively as a grip, I was fortunate enough to join IATSE Local 80 and start working on bigger productions.

Currently, I shoot as much as I can, mostly branded content and short-form narrative, and I apply all of my lighting knowledge to create some really beautiful imagery. My goal is to eventually join IATSE Local 600 as a Director of Photography and shoot more narrative content.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Working in production is very competitive. I wouldn’t say it was a smooth road, especially since I’m still working every day to dive further into my ultimate career goal.

Freelancing can be discouraging to some people because we don’t have regular, set-in-stone hours that we consistently work. Networking is essential. All of the work I get is based on recommendations and working with people that like working with me. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay busy most of the year, but it’s definitely not a career path for everyone.

Personally, I like the freedom of setting my own schedule. I hustle every month to find work and pay the bills, and I take much needed time off when I feel like I’ve earned it.

Kenneth Bauer – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As a Director of Photography, I am the one responsible for creating the imagery on a film production. Early on in pre-production, I’m involved in the creative discussion with the Director on the overall look of the project, lighting design, shot listing, mood setting, and anything else that would have an effect on the final look. When I work closely with a Director, we usually spend a great amount of time planning out the shots and how it would cut together in the editing room. A big part of my preparation for an upcoming production is to break down a shot list into a shooting schedule with a 1st AD. This helps on the day of the shoot to stay on schedule and wrap without going overtime.

During post-production, I sit down with the Director at a color house and we go through all the shots and make sure everything is color graded the way we envisioned it to be. I think a big advantage that separates me from a lot of other DPs out there is the fact that I came up working through the lighting department. Many DPs come up through camera assisting, so they aren’t as proficient when it comes to lighting a scene. This can be a major problem on set because time is wasted changing the lighting around.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Personally, success for me is defined as achieving your ultimate goal. Everyone sets personal goals in life. It helps us move forward and feel the sense of reward when you accomplish something. When I’m working on a project, the ultimate goal for me is to tell a story through images that executes the Director’s vision.

Sometimes I compromise shots in my head that I really like because ultimately, as part of the story, they didn’t make sense. And when looking at the final product, as long as the Director is happy, it’s a success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jason Lowrie, John Carluccio, Ely Gonzalez, Joseph Marconi, Jeff Kenneth Lee

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