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Photographer Bacon takes on films

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Last edited 4:02 p.m., Dec. 14, 2011

Longtime Springfield photographer Randy Bacon is now taking his passion to the film world, where he is making waves as a documentarian.

It's been a little more than a year since the Gillioz Theatre debuted his first documentary, “The Last Days of Extraordinary Lives,” in which he chronicled the lives of terminally ill patients in hospice care. Fifteen festivals and about 11 awards later, Bacon is getting calls from Hollywood film representatives, and now, the 88-minute documentary could become more widespread.

Fresh from a trip to Africa to film his latest piece, "Man Up and Go," Bacon sat down with Springfield Business Journal this morning at Hilton Garden Inn as the final guest of the year in the monthly 12 People You Need to Know breakfast series.

For Bacon, owner of Randy Bacon Photography Inc. since 1988, the transition to film was jarring, and though he still considers still photography his baby, he isn't looking back.

"Five or six years ago, if somebody in here were to say, 'Hey Randy, you should do a movie,' I would not hesitate to say, 'Well, I think you're crazy,'" Bacon said. "Now that I'm doing film, it totally matches up because my mission is the same, and that is to uncover the truth and essence and all these qualities of life as real as possible."

"Man Up and Go" (see trailer below) follows a group of American men on a trip to Ethiopia and Uganda, chronicling their experiences in being father figures for orphans in poverty-stricken areas. The Man Up program was started by former publicist and author Roger Gibson, of Branson, after he and his wife adopted a baby girl from an Ethiopian town that is literally a trash dump. The film also tells the stories of Rob Neal of Springfield-based ServiceWorld Computer Center; Mitch Hauschildt, an athletic trainer at Missouri State University; Cory Cotton, 21, from Austin, Texas; and Brady Stark, a 50-something career police officer from Springfield.

Bacon said these trips can be life-changing for orphans in the developing countries, and for him personally, it has represented a fundamental shift.

"What I've learned is - don't shut the door, and do things that are uncomfortable," he said. "When it gets down to it, I think that's what we're supposed to do."

Bacon is currently finishing up the documentary by interviewing the men following their experiences in Africa, and he plans to release the film during the summer.

Bacon, who will take a trip to Cairo, Egypt, next month on a job for Assemblies of God, said the driver behind his passions lies first in telling a story, and anything else is supplemental.

"I can say this without too much hesitation. The cake is doing something I feel passionate about - trying to come up with something that has a life that's bigger than the still photo itself or the film itself," he said. "The icing on the cake is hopefully the financial reward."

Bacon also serves as a landlord of the Monarch Art Factory, 600 W. College St., where he operates his studio and leases space to other businesses in center city.

"Since we've opened, we've had a full house," Bacon said of the 16,000-square-foot building, which he co-purchased with Matt Miller of Matt Miller Co. in 2006.
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