Chris McGuire has had a passion for film his whole life. As a one-man film crew, he can handle all aspects of production; from drafting the initial script, to the final edits. His latest submission to Zooppa, “Somewhere in New Jersey” was selected by a panel of Showtime brass as the 1st place winner of their Shameless Film Festival.
Tell us about yourself.
Well…I like to consider myself a cinema artist. A jack-of-all-trades. I write, direct, act, produce, edit.. you name it. I am dedicated to the craft of the storytelling process. My educational background is in Psychology and it plays a strong influence in my understanding of how people work and in turn, how stories work. I have spent a lot of time and effort over the last few years producing commercial videos for the crowdsourcing market. It wasn’t until around my 15th video entry that I actually won a prize, which fortunately was a 1st place prize spot. Since then I have been hooked and can proudly say that my videos have won many times. As a former athlete, I have always appreciated good competition and I delight in my creations battling it out for cash awards. Last year I was able to break through the keepers of the Internet and experienced my first ‘viral’ video. My short film was a counterpoint to the popular Harlem Shake meme called ‘Harlem Reacts to Harlem Shake Videos’. I learned how a video could reach a massive worldwide audience and turn up a lot of media attention. It was awesome, and I plan to experience it again sometime soon.
Describe your filmmaking background. What got you started? What was the first film you ever created?
I literally grew up in front of a TV with cable and a VCR. I spent many hours consuming film and television and always had the intention of becoming a creator myself. When I finally got my hands on a video camera, I began making videos. The first film I made was when I was 21. It was made during a cross-country road trip. Essentially, it documented the misadventures of me and a buddy travelling from Maryland to California. From there I began taking acting classes, studying filmmaking books, and making videos. My library is quite extensive. I have created my own ‘abridged’ version of each filmmaking/acting book that I love. They are available for free on the ‘Notes’ page of my website and I encourage all students to utilize the resource of about 70 titles. I have primarily been a one-man film crew since I started, and for the most part I continue to be today. I love working on all aspects of production from concept to final edit. Though my favorite part of the process is writing. I love playing with ideas and watching images emerge and come to life. Nothing beats the feeling of catching hold of a chain of images that come together to form a quality story. It can be a very empowering and satisfying experience.
Who is your favorite director and what is one of your all time favorite movies?
It’s definitely no easy task to choose, but if I had to give you one of my favorites, I would say Marty Scorsese. His body of work speaks for itself. He has tremendous vision and brings to life such intense story worlds in the most cinematic of ways. I have much appreciation for the humor that exists in all of his films. While definitely consisting of a much darker tone, I find myself at times laughing out loud, even in his more dramatic works. And while I can never really pin down a favorite movie per se, since we are on Scorsese, I will say that one of my favorites of his is Taxi Driver. I’ve always identified a bit with the protagonist Travis Bickle. I’m a bit out of an outsider myself.
I was really pleased last year when I had the privilege of working on the set of the Wolf of Wall Street, as a Background Extra for 21 days of shooting. I portrayed one of the Stratton Oakmont Brokers, and was overjoyed to watch Scorsese in action. He is a true master, and a true master charmer. I kept my eyes and ears open those days and learned a ton.
Why do you like to work with Zooppa?
Zooppa is the premiere crowdsourcing site in the game and always has a large selection of quality contests available to choose from. They have a broad range of interesting projects being offered from a wide variety of brands. I like their multi-tiered prize platform. Each contest offers a bunch of different prize levels, so even if a couple of videos place higher than yours, you can still do pretty well for your efforts. I am also impressed lately with how the prize amounts are getting higher and higher. The crowdsourcing game is tough, and being well compensated for your work helps make up for the times when your entries fall short (which is very much part of the game). Zooppa has a good system in place and a top-notch support team. While I compete in several arenas around the web, Zooppa has become my favorite place to dwell. And I am looking forwarded to providing content for them on a regular basis.
Which was your favorite contest to participate in? Why?
By far my favorite contest has been Showtime’s Shameless Film Festival. For one, I love the show and its twisted style of humor. Secondly, the idea for my script came to me quite naturally. The whole thing was very fun to make. The Grand Prize cash is going to help me launch a slew of new projects (for both the crowdsourcing market and my developing YouTube channel). Overall, my favorite commercial contests are the ones that call for humor. Comedy comes easy for me and I get satisfaction out of getting other people to laugh. While different contests call for different forms of comedy, I excel most at bold/edgy, and absurd comedy scenarios. I like to dabble in different forms and styles of humor, but in the end, I love being totally ridiculous about things.
What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Well I am hoping to capitalize on more opportunities in the short form digital marketplace. I plan to participate in more Zooppa contests, produce YouTube content, develop contacts, and ultimately work my way up the food chain of the entertainment industry. Down the road, my objective is to create longer cinematic forms, with an emphasis on feature films. In addition, I’m going to use my current momentum to put more focus/energy on my acting career. I plan to further collaborate with my very talented actor friend Jacob Berger. He’s a very funny performer and thanks to his ridiculousness we were able to take home the Shameless win. If you are in the NYC area and you need a quality funny actor, his website link is below. In the end, I am quite grateful for all of the current and emerging opportunities that are now available for filmmakers like myself. The old system and its limitations of content creation, distribution, and sales are dissolving away each year. We are now living in a new democratic world for video creators. There is endless opportunity for anyone who has the talent, skill, and determination to ‘make it’ out there. I plan to continue to be one of those success stories.
Link us to any work/ portfolio that you’d like mentioned.
Actor Jacob Berger http://www.nycastings.com/JacobBerger