Outside 'Outdoors' with Buck McNeely

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The local face of the outdoors, Buck McNeely, recently stepped out from in front of the camera to get behind a feature length production.

McNeely is the writer, producer, director and star of the adventure series, "The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely," which films on location but is based in Southeast Missouri. Recently, however, he put his talents to work in mainstream film, co-producing a National Lampoon movie that was distributed nationwide on DVD in May.

"Cattle Call" is a comedy starring Diedrich Bader ("The Drew Carey Show") and Thomas Ian Nicholas ("American Pie").

"It's about three guys who start a fake casting agency to meet girls," McNeely said. "It's a typical National Lampoon comedy and there are quite a few good laughs in it."

For McNeely, Hollywood production was quite a departure from producing an outdoors show.

"There's much bigger logistics involved -- you have more people and more elements that you have to deal with where [with [StartDouble]The Outdoorsman"] many times it will just be me and a camera man," McNeely said.

His Hollywood project was a bit more crowded.

"With a film project, you might have 30 or 40 people on the set," McNeely said. "It's like a big intricate dance."

It wasn't all behind-the-scenes work, though. McNeely had a cameo appearance in "Cattle Call."

"I enjoy all aspects of the business," he said, "in front of or behind the camera. In upcoming projects there may even be some expanded [acting] roles."

McNeely is undaunted by the additional hurdles of Hollywood productions. He has another movie in the works, but the details are hush-hush. Slated to begin production later this year, the title indicates it isn't another comedy.

"It's called 'Fist Full of Blood,'" McNeely said. "It's going to be a shoot-em-up. ... That's all I'm going to tell you for now."

The buck doesn't stop at movies.

He has a more expansive long-term project.

"I want to create a mass media communications network," McNeely said. "I want to take the distribution base I have built with 'The Outdoorsman' and plow new projects into it."

McNeely sees an advantage to building on the ground he has already made, then taking it further.

"I want to target and service the massive $120 billion-a-year outdoor industry with 'The Outdoorsman,' but also do some mainstream projects as well and develop content that will appeal outside the outdoors genre," he said.

Born the son of an Air Force officer in Cape Girardeau in 1960, McNeely began traveling the world before most children start traveling to day care. His father retired in California and McNeely became interested in mass communications and even hosted a radio show as a teen.

"I was always interested in telling stories," McNeely said. "I'm a storyteller today."

Eventually he made his way home to Missouri and majored in mass communication at Southeast Missouri State University where he began doing "The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely" as a senior project. It has appeared on ESPN, USA Network and Fox Sports, and is currently on more than 400 stations in the U.S. and worldwide.

"The Outdoorsman with Buck McNeely" airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on WPSD and Saturdays at noon on WPSD's weather channel. National Lampoon's "Cattle Call," rated R, is out on DVD in all video stores.

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