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Rising Through The Ranks: Filmmaker Kevin Bachar

January 28, 2021
4 min read time

Documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Kevin Bachar didn't let the COVID-19 pandemic slow him down; 2020 was full of new and exciting moments for his career. Aside from finishing up his ninth film for PBS Nature on the sharks of Hawaii, as well as another National Geographic SHARKFEST film on Oceanic White Tip sharks, the Emmy® Award-winner's first scripted feature, an indie thriller called The Inhabitant, was picked up. The film stars Dermot Mulroney and Leslie Bibb, and according to Bachar, is in post-production.

It's been a thrilling ride for Kevin, who has lived out his dreams without ever having to move from New York City, where he grew up.

Bachar was raised in Queens where he attended public schools. In grade school he attended P.S. 13, also known as Clement C. Moore School, named after the poet who wrote, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." For Junior high, he attended I.S. 61, also known as Leonardo DaVinci Intermediate School.

"Who knows, maybe going to schools named after a couple of astute "creatives" rubbed off in some way," Bachar says.

He describes himself as a "total child of New York City," where subways and buses were life. He grew up in the same neighborhood as basketball player Kenny Smith, and he spent much of his time at the library or playing basketball.

And although he didn't always know he wanted to be a screenwriter, much of Bachar's experiences influenced his interest to one day work in film and film production. In junior high and high school, Bachar was a part of the A.V. squad, otherwise known as the children who would "wheel in the film projectors or overheads for films shown during class." He also had an English teacher who he describes as incredibly influential in inspiring his love for movies.

"I had an English Teacher who loved to have us read a book and then watch the film of the book. We'd read "To Kill a Mockingbird" then watch the film. We'd end up discussing the way the film conveyed elements of the book and things like subtext in shots, etc. He was a self-proclaimed cinephile who shared his love of film with his students. His class was my first time discussing film on a deeper level than just 'I liked it,'" he says.  

Bachar attended Brooklyn College where he majored in television and radio. He was hired as an intern at Nickelodeon, which eventually led to them offering him a full-time job as a production assistant and editor — while he was still in school. Bachar tried working full-time while continuing his education, but found it overwhelming. He eventually dropped out of school but continued to work at the children’s network.

From Nickelodeon, Bachar was offered a job at National Geographic, where he quickly rose through the ranks from production assistant to editor, to producer, and finally to senior producer. He produced and directed documentaries about everything from rattlesnake round-ups in Texas to grey whales' migration off Baja. Today, Bachar has shot and filmed stories in over 40 countries.

What was even more exciting for Bachar, who says the movie JAWS was his most significant film inspiration as both a documentarian and feature filmmaker, was when he eventually produced films about sharks. He's made numerous films for Shark Week on Discovery and SHARKFEST for National Geographic.

"This is all to say that the dreams you dream when you are a 12-year-old living in an apartment in New York City can come true. Growing up, my world was defined by asphalt and cement. But I was able to eventually get a job at National Geographic and launch my own documentary production company, taking me into the deepest rain forest and across every ocean of the world," Bachar says.

About ten years ago, Bachar was in Tanzania, working on a film about a lion that killed 40 people. He says the documentary team wanted to compare the lion to the famous lions that terrorized Africa during the East African Railway building, killing over 100 people. Those lions were the focus of the film The Ghost and the Darkness, written by Academy® Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman. Bachar ended up interviewing Goldman for his documentary.

"After we were done, he [Goldman] asked me if I had ever thought of turning some of my documentaries into features. He mentioned that some of his most famous films – All the President's Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – were based on true stories. I told him I hadn't thought about it, and he said I should; time was wasting," Bachar explains.  

Fast forward five years later, Bachar downloaded Final Draft and started writing screenplays. Five years after that, he signed with Citizen Skull and Matt Prater, and made his first feature.  

Bachar says he always knew he would find himself where he is today because "hard work will always get you where you want."

But what's his ultimate dream?

"I'm living it," Bachar says. "I travel around the world making documentaries while also writing screenplays that are getting made into films."

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