By Ryan Meehan
Today is a very exciting day for me because I get to interview one of my favorite filmmakers of the YouTube era. Bobby is probably best known for his digital shorts, the most popular being “Cars” which was instantly featured on Funny Or Die when it was released back in 2005. It’s time for you to get out your fucking checkbook, as our guest today in 5 Questions is the one and only Bobby Hacker.
FOH: Are you in LA permanently now or do you plan to relocate back to Portland at some point? What’s has the whole experience of living in Los Angeles been like for you so far?
BH: Los Angeles is home. I love Portland, I’ve lived there for years. I haven’t really considered moving back to the Northwest however I love to visit every 6 months or so. I have ex girlfriends there, some old parking tickets, my little brothers are out there too. Portland’s a great place to visit frequently. Most of my family is actually 5min across the bridge in Washington state in a city called Vancouver – where I went to high school and tried women for the first time. There’s this great little pizza parlor out there called Papa John’s, I always try and roll through for a quick slice whenever I’m in town. As an “experience” I’d say LA has been mostly positive. I came here to work in film and television and that’s what I ended up doing. Although I’m not pitching as much and some of my more ambitious “creative” endeavors might suffer because I need to pay the bills, I’m a full time editor by trade. If that’s as good as it ever gets for me I’d still feel like I made it here. I’m happy.
FOH: A lot of your videos contain graphic subject matter to say the very least…When you were younger, did you ever do any video work for high school or college that was much less in that vein? What was the first video that you ever made and was it similar to the stuff you’re making these days?
BH: I’ve done commercials for furniture outlets… Digest that. Furniture commercial… I’ve done promos for community colleges, PSA’s etc. I’ve done some really boring, boring stuff. In high school I was a “career” video productions kid, I was actually way into our weekly newscast (cafeteria proper). I had a running segment that would actually “get pulled” more times than “airing” Example, one time I thought it would be really funny to do a feature on how to intercept your report card from the mail before your parents got a hold of it and beat you. What a stupid little shit I was/am. I also made a kung fu movie with a paraplegic kid, he dug it. The first movie I ever made was called “It came from the Woods”. I was 9 years old. I think it’s very similar to my current body of work. The 6min movie starts off with a title card that says “The Woods 1955”. In black and white, a monster appears in the woods, kicks a young boy right in his dick and screams “ARGH! RIGHT IN THE GONADS!” We flash forward to my father (Bob Hacker) who was narrating the previous scene to a group of three young men “And that’s what happened to me when I was a boy… I wouldn’t go in those woods.” says Bob. Well, the boys did go into those woods (with Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Hip Hop Soldier” as the soundtrack) and BAM! Monster kicks the first kid in the dick. BAM! Monster kicks the second kid in the dick. It was only then that the third kid realized he needed to kick the monster in HIS dick to defeat him. I don’t want to ruin the ending.
FOH: Have you received any feedback or have you ever been contacted by any of the mediums that you’ve parodied while doing this? For example, the people at VH1 (Best Night Ever), any of the alternative comedians (Alternative Comedy), or most recently Teen Hearts (Cutting my Dick Off)?
BH: The alternative comedy thing was the video that got me a meeting with a pretty big management company founded by one of the producers of The Comedians of Comedy (Comedy Central Show) I was with them for a while, I think? So yes, the answer is yes. Also, the Teen Hearts guy, Kelly Scott Orr (I just call him Teen Hearts for short) tweeted the Cutting My Dick Off video. I fuckin’ made it, Dad! I did it!
FOH: Which filmmakers are you most influenced by when it comes to the writing of what you’re actually going to film? Do you change some of the material when you’re in front of the green screen or do you pretty much just stick to the script?
BH: Personally I’ve never filmed anything that I’ve written yet. Honestly. If writing is a list of bullet points on an iPhone, than I might have at one point. Seriously, everything on my YouTube page is a halfcocked idea me and my friends thought was really funny 5 min before we started filming it. Actually I did write a script for our NEXT STAR WARS short. I was just so fascinated be seeing the words “Fuck you” and “Suck my dick” over and over on a piece of paper. We’re idea men, okay? I think one of my favorite screenplays of the last year or so was Goon by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg. Loved the hell out of that film and I love what Michael Dowse did with the pages. Great Director, very inspiring. I also love what Jody Hill and his friends have accomplished with telling a story, it’s just such a great balance between finding an emotional connection between a ridiculously unreal protagonist and going right back to the “fuck all” absurdity of their comedy. In both cases you can kind of see how they’ll shoot what’s on the page and then fuck around for the last several takes and get some magic out of it. Typically the ladder will make the cut. That’s how I like to shoot. I’m more interested in what takes place between “Cut” and “Action” I change everything when we find a rhythm and love to film actors when they have no idea they’re being filmed. I actually had the opportunity to write a spec script and direct a low budget feature for Roughhouse Pictures about a year or so ago. It went though about 9 drafts until I kind of leaned how to write a script. It’s like those they put me through a writing workshop. Never really worked out but it was a great learning experience and I was honored that they gave me and my friends a chance to make a film. Such an unreal experience to me, getting to meet those guys and try to work on something. Since then I’ve gotten the afore mentioned script to a place I’ve very proud of and have written another both involving Travis Jones, his brother Tyler, Richard Bain and our usual gallery of rouges. So writing is sort of a new-ish thing for me in the last few years.
FOH: You show an impressive amount of range when it comes to the videos you’ve made…you can make a short out of just about anything, such as a couple of guys kicking a stick in the street; all the way up to “Truckin'” which obviously took a lot more thinking. How long does it take you to edit something like that? Do you think most people who watch YouTube are under the impression that you just set the footage to music and then that’s it?
BH: Well, the stick thing took about 10 min to shoot and an hour to record VO and edit. It varies, in the years I’ve been stepping up my after effects game and acquiring better gear. If it’s a 10 min green screen Fuck Fest like “Truckin'” it might take anywhere from a week or so but if it’s a 2 min vignette about a dinosaur trying to get into an urgent care clinic because he sprained his neck trying to suck his own dick, that might take about a week as well. Depends on what I’m trying to make happen and how many shitty sizzle reels I have to cut to pay my rent. Like I said, it varies. I honestly have no fucking clue as to what the YouTube community’s impression of me is. The long and short of it I guess would be that I don’t think that my YouTube page is any different than some lady that blogs about her cat’s YouTube page. Only on mine, every once and a while a funny little story might pop up. Some people really get it some people really, really don’t get it. Like the people that think I’m totally into Nu Metal? They really, really don’t get it. I don’t get it. Do you get it? (Editor’s Note: Never in a million years would I have thought Bobby or any of the guys were into that garbage)
FOH: Who can drink more: You or Travis Jones?
BH: Well, anyone would tell you the same thing which would be “Are you kidding me?” I definitely would have to admit that I have the bigger drinking problem. Travis is a proud, responsible single father and he now reserves such behavior for very special occasions like birthdays, X-Mas parties, depression and throwing up in the same exact place every time he goes out to Joshua Tree with me. I think we’re kind of older now and getting “entirely shit hammered” is less of an appealing idea. But, yup it’s me. Speaking of Travis, he also has a YouTube page http://www.youtube.com/user/getoutyourcheckbook and has been making some of the weirdest shit. Even I don’t get it, but I do. Every time a new vid pops up I’m stoked. It’s like the uncut coke of what we would make together. Travis without a filter is extremely fascinating. He’s my best friend and I hope we continue making stuff well into our later years… and drinking. It’s a rare and beautiful thing… This “drinking”…
FOH: What does the future hold for YouTube filmmakers like yourself? BH: Well, my future is very uncertain. I don’t know if I’d (personally) throw myself into the “YouTube filmmaker” category. I mean, I guess I’m in that category by default. I just consider myself someone that might every so often throw something on there. I have never been one of those guys that like wants to be a partner and make money off of it, be part of “the community” or even just release episodic content. I’m actually kind of turned off by the “internet comedy” machine. Partially due to the saturation of content? I don’t know how many fucking times I’ve seen two white guys doing a rap video about like how the new iPhone sucks! Just the fuckin’ “two white dudes” doing an “ironic” hip hop video, Jesus. Words elude me… Jon Lajoie is funny, but there’s only one of him. Maybe I don’t have a sense of humor, but I really can’t find the attention span for a lot of it. I’m more inclined to spelunk YouTube for hours to find something that’ll make me laugh than go to College Humor and see something totally produced, contemporary and topical. I’m a huge fan of Million Dollar Extreme’s YouTube channel, that Krispe Kreme rap kid makes me laugh from time to time. The internet (for filmmakers) has changed so, so much since the heydays of channel 101 and stuff like Tim & Eric’s “World Champion Sexy”, or Eric Fensler’s Gi Joe PSA’s. I think the future for YouTube filmmakers will go as follows… Guys like Philip Defranco, FRED, Epic Meal Time, Shane Dawson, Smosh and William Johnson will all have chairs at the round table of the cable television apocalypse. When the singularity is upon us, cable and the internet will become one truck commercial riddled network on your television which is now brought to you by Google Fiber. All of the top filmmakers on YouTube at the time will have shows being produced for less than 10K an episode, hit’s will become the equivalent of Nielson ratings, The Simpsons will get cancelled and The Guild will go into it’s 22nd season. I will still every once in a while upload a green screen video of my friends screaming expletives. I can honestly say I think that Kickstarter might be the future for “YouTube filmmakers” I like the idea of filmmakers getting money for a project to be produced from people that actually want to see it work out.
FOH: What’s next for Bobby Hacker and the crew in the twelve months to follow? Any big plans?
BH: Right now I’m working on a sort of Adult Swim formatted pilot written by Ron Funches and Richard Bain, kind of the best thing I’ve done in a while. Richard is one of my biggest collaborators since day 1, he’s out here in LA doing stand up regularly. Ron Funches is also one of our friends from Portland also a very talented comedian. We’re trying to do some of the same stuff we we’re doing back in Portland with a little more structure. Actually going to be quite an ambitious year for me. Me and my friends have a DVD coming out via Troma Team Video featuring some of our YouTube shorts and our 37 min short film CARS III. I’m trying to get 1 of three feature film projects financed at any given time. I’m also beginning the editing phase of a documentary I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years filming about the director of a film called Birdemic: Shock and Terror. The one thing I’m very excited about is a Kickstarter project I’ve been planning for about a year. I’m going to propose a shot for shot remake of Reginald Hudlin’s “House Party” with my usual gang of players and then some. I unabashedly love that movie and fuck it, I want to create a period piece valentine to it. Talks of Brett Ratner buying the rights and Nick Canon (God bless him…) stepping into the directors chair got me in a real tizzy. It’s just one of those movies that doesn’t need a remake. So I feel like if somebody’s gonna bruise my memory of that film I’d love to blow it to hell first and put it online for free. It’s going to take some doing but I’m working it out. There’s a lot on the horizon and when something sticks the usual crew will assemble. But today I’m probably just gonna do some laundry, have 2 diet cokes and a Caesar salad at the H.M.S. Bounty.
Bobby Hacker on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/bobbyhacker?feature=results_main
“Cutting My Dick Off”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Kp21VeLDI
“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Promo starring Scott Feelings”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGh7GesELNI
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