I first encountered Andy Newman’s work through a documentary he made behind the scenes on a Nick Fancher photo shoot. While I was thoroughly impressed by Mr. Fancher’s work and the photographs he was able to produce with seemingly minimal amounts of fuss, I was also curious about Mr. Newman’s work.

Which is when I discovered Built in Cbus, a website dedicated to profiling interesting people from Columbus, Ohio. We watched a few of these videos and were struck by how engaging the films were and how sincere the subjects seemed to be about their work, their lives, and the goals they had set for themselves.

Documenting the present is of great interest to us at One Small Window so I messaged Andy to ask if he would consent to an email interview. Even though he has been pretty busy, among other things with documenting The Startup Bus–a bus full of entrepreneurs trying to start a company during a three-day trip from San Francisco to Austin for the SXSW (South by South West) festival–Andy agreed.

And here we are:

How did ‘Built In Cbus’ come about?
I was initially inspired by Kevin Rose’s “Foundation” series, where he sits down with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and talks about their stories. I really love the idea and know that we have just as many talented people throughout the rest of the country. Especially in a city like Columbus, Ohio that rarely gets the same coverage as a city like San Francisco, but has a great arts and entrepreneurial commnuity.

Take us through the process of putting together an episode of ‘Built In Cbus’.
It starts out with a simple interest in a person or place in Columbus. We started the site with an interview series, but have since transitioned to include videos showing off the city – at sunrise, at night, and some retail establishments and companies based in Columbus.

From there, my main role is as producer, where I coordinate the whole shoot. My right hand man is my good friend Zach Frankart, so he’s always my second shooter and helps to bounce ideas off of during pre-production. The rest of the crew fluctuates, but has included Adam McKenzie as audio producer, and for the interviews, Brittany Gerena will host. In general it’s a very small team, usually just one or two people on the production side.

How long have you been working as a freelance videographer and editor?
I’ve been freelancing officially for about 6 to 8 months. I got my start in a professional setting as a video production intern with the Columbus Blue Jackets, our local National Hockey League team. From there I mostly just did projects in my spare time for fun until I started getting calls for real work and around the same time, Built in Cbus was born.

What kind of gear/software do you typically use?
I primarily shoot with a Canon 7D and Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. I find that lens is versatile enough to work for most shoots. In the past I shot a lot with the Rebel T2i and a handful of lenses.

For software, I’ve transitioned fully to Final Cut Pro X. I’ve been trained on Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid, but I find, especially coming from a sports background, when you want to edit quickly and efficiently, that’s where FCPX excels.

Do you think there is any gear or software that would drastically improve your process?
I would love to eventually get to the point where I’m shooting with the Canon C300 or RED Scarlet. With the work I’m doing lately, it’s getting to the point where the drawbacks of the DSLRs are becoming more evident (audio, low-light performance). But that said, I’m very happy with where I’m at and I consider it a good problem to have.

Your Vimeo page suggests that you produce ‘behind the scenes’ videos, glamour videos, and spots. Is there an area you would like to specialize in? If yes, why?
I love short-form documentary work, whether that’s behind the scenes and profiling a person or business. To me, it just captures the entire essence of filmmaking – connecting people and stories in a brief moment in time. I would love to do more documentary work as well as commercials. I think commercials have a lot of the same challenges as documentary-style work, but you have to share the message in 30-60 seconds!

Is there a film or commercial you’ve seen online and thought to yourself, “I wish I’d made that”?
Unfortunately I can’t find a high-quality version of it, but one of my all-time favorite commercials was an Xbox Live commercial in Europe, “Cops and Robbers”:

To me, it’s the perfect commercial. Fun, engaging, and a little mysterious until the end. I enjoyed it so much that it was the basis for my short “Don’t Get Caught”:

What are the challenges of being an independent filmmaker in your community?
Columbus is growing, and fast, but there still aren’t a lot of high-quality options for video production. There are a few bigger studios that are the known-names, but convincing people they can get high-quality work from someone who isn’t wearing a suit is taking time. That’s what Built in Cbus is all about – showing this community what its people (ourselves included) can do.

I’ve also been fortunate to work with Eric Leslie of OnScene Productions, who has a lot of the established business contacts and has driven a lot of work for me. I spend about 75-80% of my freelance time working for his company and projects he produces.

Where do you see yourself 18 months from now?
I would love to continue growing Built in Cbus. I want it to be a home for creatives to grow and develop and to connect with other creatives and entrepreneurs. I would love to grow it into other cities as well, and hopefully I can get out and start building the network out. I love Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, so any opportunity to grow the team into those key cities would be great.
Related Links:
Andy Newman’s Official Website
Built in Cbus
Don’t Get Caught BTS
Andy Newman on Vimeo