JULY 20, 2016
DOCUMENTARY IDEA COULDN'T WAIT FOR MONEY
Jason Baumgardner remembers well the first film book he ever read, “Rebel Without A Crew” by Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez has gone on to be an accomplished filmmaker and collaborator of director Quentin Tarantino, but he started from nothing.
“He had a film idea, so he shot it, edited it, produced it, did the music and sound,” Baumgardner said. “Then, he’s in Sundance (Film Festival). He’s a big guy. “I was inspired by that. When you have an idea, you go do it. You don’t sit around and wait for money to come or the timing to be right. Sometimes, you have to do it right now or it’s not going to happen.”
Baumgardner, 37, is a 1996 Amarillo High graduate. He got a degree in computer science from Texas Tech, landed a job in Dallas, and his career and life took an unexpected turn to film, which he always loved anyway. “I trace it back to my mom (Charlene),” said Karl Baumgardner, Jason’s dad. “She was always the one with the home movie camera, even back in the 1950s. Jason later was the one making movies with his cousins, those kind of things.”
For about the last five years, Baumgardner and wife Catherine (and now son Bodie, 17 months) have lived in Long Beach, Calif., closer to the film industry. Baumgardner got a film production degree from Chapman University, and his wife a master’s in costume design from Cal State Long Beach.
Baumgardner has learned much about the film industry in southern California, perhaps one being that in such a competitive environment, sometimes if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. All of it.
Six years ago, Baumgardner’s first major project was a Web series, “The League” (not related to the FX show by the same name). It was a fictional story of an accountant with money problems who gets involved in a high-stakes fantasy football league. Baumgardner wrote, directed and financed the film, which was well-received.
It’s been said you should write, or in this case produce, what you know. He began playing fantasy football at Tech, the 23rd Street Fantasy Football League. He still plays it with a few old Tech buddies.
“Doing that gave me the confidence I had not had before,” Baumgardner said.
His latest project, which will premiere in November in New York City, is an independent documentary on the latest craze in the $15 billion fantasy sports industry — daily fantasy sports. It’s like e-trading for the hardcore sports fan. “Perfect Lineup” looks at the burgeoning phenomenon through three story lines — Scott Hanson and his wife, who won $2 million last year in the FanDuel Fantasy Football Championships in Las Vegas; Dan Back, one of the early visionaries of the trend who now has a daily radio show on Sirius XM; and a new group, Fantasy Aces, two brothers and their dad, who are breaking into the industry.
“I think as I get more into the (film) industry, I figure out what I really enjoy about it, and, for me, it’s the creative process in general,” Baumgardner said. “Whether it’s writing, editing or directing, I like to be in the creative chair.”
Participants in traditional fantasy sports leagues draft teams of real professional players at the start of a season and play throughout a season against other teams based on their real game performances.
Websites like Draft Kings, Fantasy Aces and FanDuel allow for weekly or daily re-drafting of teams that lends to the adrenaline rush.
“As you go through this, you discover so many things,” Baumgardner said. “The thing I’d like to show is it does take skill to be good at it. A lot of people look at it from the outside as a game of chance. But there are people who are repeatedly successful at it, and there’s a reason for that.
“The other thing is playing responsibly. There’s a story of one guy who put in $10,000 and lost it all pretty quickly. You wouldn’t do that with the stock market, so don’t do that with daily fantasy.”
Filming for “The Perfect Lineup” should be completed Sept. 14, the day of the first “Monday Night Football” of the season. Baumgardner began work in December. He is using Kickstarter to fund post-production on the film, which is everything from motion graphics to musical score and sound mixing.
“I didn’t want to be backed by a big company because if I was, they could influence the way the story was told,” Baumgardner said. “We wanted to say clear of big endorsements. I believe the fantasy community will rally around this. I believe it’s a good film.”
Jon Mark Beilue is an AGN Media columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. His “Out of the Beilue” video series appears on amarillo.com.