What allows for some artists to succeed?
I have known many artists and being able to support oneself with one’s art is a rare thing, demanding respect and investigation. A friend told me that even the piano singer at a hotel singing “Summer Winds”, if he is supporting himself solely with his art, he is a rare success in the echelon of the .0001% of artists. It is with that understanding and respect that I bring you Gentle Reader to my discussion with Director – Guy Bee.
Guy Bee’s IMDB page reads like a TV Fan’s dream resume. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0066218/
Guy came to Hollywood via Florida to California in 1987; he obtained a job working for a camera and camera equipment leasing company. As Guy put it, “I came in early and stayed late.” He managed their books, meaning he logged the equipment that was checked in and out, he cleaned an repaired the equipment, and drove the company truck. Guy’s diligence impressed his boss who offered to let him go to a Steadicam workshop because he wanted him to keep track of the equipment that was leant to the workshop, allowing Guy to attend a free Steadicam workshop. As Guy leased this equipment he, would meet more and more Directors and Producers. This led to a string of short projects while he continued to work at the leasing shop, which slowly built up his reel (segments showing his camera work) on VHS TAPE.
Guy states that “You live and die by the reputation that you can handle anything without being rattled.” This philosophy set the stage for Guy’s shot at Directing. By working diligently and establishing relationships with the cast, crew, directors, and producers of “Third Watch”, Guy was given his first professional directing opportunity, which would grow into 13 episodes of directing. His success as a director on “Third Watch” led to “Alias” which led to one of my favorite shows of ALL TIME: “Jericho”. “Jericho”, for the uninitiated, is the story of a Kansas town holding together in the wake of Nuclear War. Guy described the show as – “Every scene was important and the stakes were always high. There was no ‘C Story’.” Guy directed three episodes of this show that was gone too soon.
Protips? Flexibility. “If you’re behind because of lighting or someone’s late, you still have to figure out how to get it done in time”. Why? Budgets! Once you cross 12 hours of shooting, everyone’s rates go up. “It takes seven days prep for eight to nine days of filming.” These principles took him to three of my favorite shows: “Supernatural”, “Arrow”, “The Magicians”, and “iZombie”.
The question I had was how was he able to keep working and have one show feed into the next? “[He] never turned down work.” On “Supernatural”, he met Erik Kripke, Kim Manners, Bob Singer, and Sera Gamble and each of these producers led him to other episodes and new shows.
Where does he do the bulk of his work? Not in Hollywood. Why? “New York is busy because the tax incentives have made it sexy to shoot there.” This dates me a bit, but is there a true hiatus anymore? “Everything has changed. Filming used to be from July through April. Now, with basic cable, it’s year round production.”
Protips: I have an artsy daughter- what have I learned from Guy that I can impart to her to help her support herself in the arts?
Be versatile. Guy has more than one skill. If she were interested in filmmaking, I would advise her to not just be a writer. I’m a writer and it’s fallow … A LOT. If she wanted to be a writer, I would tell her that she should also understand how to put together budgets for stories she’s writing. Similarly, Guy has skills as a camera operator, which led to and helped him as a director- the skills were synergistic.
Build relationships. I would tell my daughter to be totally reliable and pleasant to work with (I apologize for ending with a preposition). Guy worked on every project with diligence, never complained, and never turned down work, enabling him to continue working in the arts without a day job.