Hans Bauer [Interview]


If I have learned anything from running this site for the last 5 years, it is that sometimes you strike gold without a whole lot of effort. We have done it today, folks. As I mentioned before (probably last week) we LOVE film and television writers. They are some of the most respected artists, who ironically enough do not receive enough respect. The story starts with them. They are the idea men. Even when excess individuals enter the picture and twist the story around, as it can happen sometimes, it was still THEIR story. When you see these strange visuals and exceptional storytelling brought to the silver or television screens, it all started as stimulation of some creative human being’s brain. It is a truly fascinating process, and deserves a showcase on a far more grand of a scale that it currently is today.

So back to striking gold: I discovered Hans Bauer while digging through the dark and dusty proverbial alleyways of the internet with only the intention of possibly getting some words from the dude that once wrote a screenplay about a giant snake. But, what I got was so much more. I got some beautiful insight that is on par with the insight and surprise I received from the likes of Frederic Raphael over 3 years ago. I got brilliance, and I am so happy to share it with you fine folks. This man is a writer’s writer, and I definitely don’t mean that in an insulting way. I really dig Mr. Bauer, especially after how he handles my unfortunate use of autocorrect and made him a transplant to America from a country even further away than he actually came (read below, you’ll understand and remember that I am a very simple man). So please enjoy some great words from one of my new favorite writers of anything, Mr. Hans Bauer!


How did you get into the world of screenwriting? What inspired you to get into the business?

As a fluke, really. I’d gone to San Francisco with a vague idea of starting a life there. Unable to find an affordable apartment, I thought I’d give LA a try. The day I moved in, the guy below me was moving out; he’d sold a script and was able to afford a house. So it hit me: I’d take a shot at this thing called screenwriting. I got very lucky, very quickly, was hired to write some scripts, optioned a few of my own. Most were sold off pitches, which I quickly realized was my strong suite. If they wanted the idea, they had to give me first crack at the screenplay, always with the implied understanding that I’d likely get booted as soon as I fulfilled my obligation. Point being, producers REALLY LIKED THE IDEAS. It did, however, take another two decades to actually get something made.

You penned the screenplay to the severely underrated 1997 suspense film Anaconda, which I honestly enjoyed very much. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this script?

Thanks. Anaconda was, in part, inspired by a misunderstanding. Once in a while I’d see a nature film that featured an anaconda, so, obviously I paid attention. How could you not?  It’s a giant snake, for Christ’s sake, there’s got to be a movie there. The misunderstanding had to do with the original King Kong. Looking at a grainy print, I saw the giant ape battling a giant snake, and how cool is that? Years later, when viewing a cleaned up print, it turned out I was wrong: Kong wasn’t battling a snake, but a giant lizard. That time I was able to make out the little lizard feet. Anyway, that’s how it happened.

Anaconda is not a film I’m thrilled about, meaning it has very little to do with the story I scripted. Mine had nothing to do with a National Geographic team looking for a lost Indian tribe, which, if you ask me, is bullshit. The fact that it found a global audience and became a brand has much to do with the studio hiring actors who covered almost every known demographic. That’s my theory.

My original draft: In an epic adventure, twenty-something, middle-grade biology teacher Andie Easter and six young colleagues, in the dead of a Chicago winter, hatch a plan to spend their summer in Brazil, hoping to reverse their meager fortunes by joining a modern-day gold rush on a tributary of the mighty Amazon.

Disoriented and increasingly isolated, the treasure hunters stray into the remote domain of three colossal snakes: daughter, mother, grandmother. One by one, under terrifying circumstances, the teachers fall victim to the devastating effects of gold fever and the relentless brutality of the primeval South American jungle. Andie Easter must discover her inner Amazon to avoid becoming prey to the Mother of All Snakes.

I recently novelized Anaconda (Anaconda: The Writer’s Cut) in order to get across my original vision. Fingers crossed that someday Sony will make a new version and that time get it right.





Titan A.E. was also amazing as well. I’m curious to know if it was always planned to be an animated film? And what are your thoughts on the end result as a film?

Thanks again, but Titan A.E. also had little to do with my involvement. How candid am I allowed to be here? I’d been developing a concept for a galactic pirate film (Treasure Planet) with a wanna-be producer friend who later went on to head a studio. When he got to that position, he ripped me off and turned the project into an animated TV series, somehow forgetting to mention that I was his contracted partner. I sued and we settled out of court. The guy’s next plan was to use a lot of the same material for an animated feature. That time, the studio bought all my material (a lot of it was just notes to myself) up front, and threw in a co-‘story by’ and a meaningless producing credit.

If you were to give any piece of advice to an aspiring screenwriter, what sort of advice would you give?

What can I possibly offer? My career has been a fluke. I beat the odds, got lucky over and over again. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but accept that it had a lot to do with the strength of the ideas, even if I am the one saying so, and not the actual writing. Not very helpful, am I? Hope I haven’t wasted your time.

If you could pen the script to any tragic event in Australian history, what would it be?

Actually, I’m an Austrian citizen with a Green Card, been here forever, not Australian, and know little of the history of either country.

But you mentioned Australia, and I have been toying with a story set in the South Pacific. I’ll quote from Wiki: In the annals of our World Wars, there have been many atrocities committed by our kind against each other. The South Pacific during World War II holds a special distinction for being an especially brutal and savage killing ground the likes of which humankind has never seen before or since. Yet one of the bloodiest and most horrifying massacres in the history of the war came not from the hands human beings, but from the jaws and teeth of the animal kingdom. During World War II on one remote island in the South Pacific, a platoon of nearly a thousand armed Japanese troops entered crocodile infested swamps and most never returned; a disappearance that, if reports are to be believed, would make it the single greatest instance of carnage caused by animals in history.

So what does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to promote?

The future doesn’t hold much in the way of new material. A half-dozen bought or developed scripts (Young Wizards, The Tree, some others) are still in limbo at various studios, so there’s that, Have a co-authored (Craig Mitchell) script, Motorcade, over at Dreamworks for over a decade. I occasionally hear rumblings that they’re still developing it, so we’ll see. Another script, Fishtale, is in turnaround at Sony, maybe someone will pick that up. Also have another dozen scripts (Snake, The Pet, Marooned, Texicano, among others) that have never been shopped. But mostly now I’m interested in writing novels and in my photo-based art.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I smile when I reflect on how well my new novel, Spicewood, is turning out. And when I see the images in two new photo projects: a thoroughly convincing photo-based medieval tarot deck; as if someone had recently discovered a long lost tarot deck made with a prototype camera five hundred years ago, and with American Pickers, a collection of stark, black and white portraits of working Texas Hill Country musicians. Yeah, those speak to me.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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