Ben Steinbauer

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Ben Steinbauer
Ben Steinbauer.jpg
Benjamin Jeffrey Steinbauer

(1977-07-28) July 28, 1977 (age 45)
EducationEdmond Memorial High School
University of Kansas (B.A.)
OccupationFilm director
Years active2001–present

Benjamin Jeffrey Steinbauer (born July 28, 1977) is an American director, writer and producer, who is best known for directing the feature documentary Winnebago Man (2009).[1] Steinbauer has directed other documentaries, including Chop & Steele (2022), which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival,[2] Brute Force (2012) and Heroes From The Storm (2017), as well as episodic television for the PBS show Stories of the Mind and the CBS show Pink Collar Crimes.

Life and career[edit]

Steinbauer graduated from Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond, Oklahoma, in 1995 and earned a B.A. in Theatre and Film from The University of Kansas in 2001,[3] where he sits on the Professional Advisory Board of K.U. Film.[4] While in college, he began making documentaries and music videos for Forty Minutes of Hell, Everest, and The Danny Pound Band[5]

In 2002, Steinbauer directed behind-the-scenes videos for The Flaming Lips, Fight Test, "Sponge Bob and Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy"[6] and The Flaming Lips & Cat Power, performing on Austin City Limits. He went on tour and operated camera on Bradley Beesley's documentary, The Fearless Freaks, about the Flaming Lips.[7][8][9]

In 2004, Steinbauer started the graduate film program at The University of Texas at Austin. His pre-thesis film, The Next Tim Day, a documentary about a young crack dealer turned independent filmmaker,[10] won best documentary at Cinema Texas[11] and ran on PBS "The Territory." In 2005, he won a Princess Grace Award for Filmmaking for his graduate thesis film,[12] which went on to become Winnebago Man.[13] After graduating, Steinbauer taught Intro To Filmmaking at The University of Texas at Austin from 2007 to 2009[14] and won a teaching award for Teacher of the Year for the College of Communications.[15]

Steinbauer with Jack Rebney and Michael Moore at the film premiere for Winnebago Man in July 2010

Steinbauer's comedy documentary Winnebago Man[16][17] premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2009.[18] Winnebago Man was released theatrically by Kino Lorber in the U.S. and by Kinosmith in Canada in July 2010. Michael Moore called it "One of the funniest documentaries ever made”[19] and Roger Ebert named it one of his favorite films of 2010.[20] Steinbauer appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2010.[21]

Steinbauer directed the short documentary Brute Force,[22] which premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival in 2012.[1] He wrote and directed the short film Documentary Subjects Wanted (2013)[23] for Funny or Die, starring Rory Scovel and Matt Jones. In 2014, he co-directed Calls To Okies: The Park Grubbs Story with Bradley Beesley.[24][25] The short premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival film festival in 2015[26] and was awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick.[27]

Steinbauer wrote, produced, and directed the short documentary, The Superlative Light (2016),[28] which was shot in both traditional 2D as well as in virtual reality (VR). Both versions of the film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) in 2016.[29][30] The film was featured in Vice's Creator's Project: Short of the Week,[31] and premiered online at Nowness.[32]

In 2016, Steinbauer directed five episodes of Stories of the Mind for PBS: "A Place To Belong", "Coping With Illness", "Beating Anxiety", "Facing Suicide", and "The Critical Years".[33] The series, produced by Arcos Films,[34] won multiple Emmys in the Lonestar Category.[35] His 2016 documentary, Slow To Show, was acquired by The New York Times Op-Docs[36][37] and awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick.[27]

After Hurricane Harvey, Steinbauer teamed up with Texas Monthly to make Heroes From the Storm (2017),[38] which was awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick[27] and selected for the U.S. State Department's 2018–2019 American Film Showcase,[39] where it screened at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.[40]

In 2018, Steinbauer directed eight episodes of the CBS comedic docuseries Pink Collar Crimes, hosted by Marcia Clark.[41] Episodes included "Minivan Mom Bank Robber", "The Queen of Coupons", and "Jackpot Jackie". Steinbauer's documentary Siren Song, which he co-directed with Berndt Mader, premiered at the 2019 Austin Film Festival.[42]

In 2022, Steinbauer premiered his new feature-length comedy documentary, Chop & Steele, which he co-directed with Mader, at the Tribeca Film Festival.[2] The film features Howie Mandel, David Cross, Reggie Watts and Bobcat Goldthwait and was released theatrically by Drafthouse Films in Spring 2023.

The Bear[edit]

Steinbauer co-owns the production company The Bear, which was founded in 2007, with writer and director Berndt Mader. Based in Austin, Texas, its feature film credits include Chop & Steele (2022), directed by Steinbauer and Mader, Booger Red (2015), directed by Mader; Prince Avalanche (2013), directed by David Gordon Green; Double Play (2013), directed by Gabe Klinger; 5 Time Champion (2011); directed by Mader; Slacker 2011 (2011), directed by Steinbauer, Mader, and various other Austin-based directors; and Winnebago Man (2009), directed by Steinbauer.

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2005, Steinbauer was awarded the Princess Grace Award for Filmmaking for his graduate thesis film,[43] which went on to become Winnebago Man.[44] Steinbauer was named "one of the best emerging Texas filmmakers of 2009" by Texas Monthly for his documentary Winnebago Man.[10]

Winnebago Man won Best Documentary at the Sarasota Film Festival, an Audience Award at CineVegas Film Festival, Audience Top 10 at Hot Docs Film Festival, the Founder Prize at Traverse City Film Festival, and Best Documentary at the Edmonton International Film Festival.[45] Winnebago Man was also in the official selection for IDFA and Sheffield Doc/Fest. The Austin Film Critics Association named Winnebago Man the Best Austin Film for 2010.[46]

Steinbauer's 2012 film Brute Force won Best Documentary Short at Sidewalk Moving Pictures Festival[47] in Birmingham, Alabama, and screened at the New Media Film Festival[48] in Los Angeles, California.


  • Chop & Steele (2022)
  • Siren Song (2019)
  • Pink Collar Crimes (2018, eight episodes)
  • Heroes From the Storm (2017)
  • Slow To Show (2016)
  • Stories of the Mind (2016, five episodes)
  • The Superlative Light (2016)
  • Calls To Okies: The Park Grubbs Story (2015)
  • Documentary Subjects Wanted (2013)
  • Brute Force (2012)
  • Slacker 2011 (2011)
  • Winnebago Man (2009)


  1. ^ a b "BRUTE FORCE". SXSW Schedule 2012. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  2. ^ a b "Chop & Steele | 2022 Tribeca Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  3. ^ "KU Alumni Spotlight, October 2019". KU Center for Undergraduate Research. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Newsletter September 2017" (PDF). KU Department of Film & Media Studies. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Newsletter May 2012" (PDF). KU Department of Film & Media Studies. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Flaming Lips Get Comical With New Video". Glide Magazine. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  7. ^ Beaudoin, Jedd. "Laces Loose: Creative. Naïve. Inspired". KMUW Wichita 89.1 - Wichita's NPR Station. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  8. ^ Gerhard, Susan. "'Winnebago Man' Hits the Road". SF360. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  9. ^ Nuala, Sawyer. "This Week On Divis: Flaming Lips Documentary, Colorado Crafters, Mezcal And More". Hoodline. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Action Heroes - The best emerging Texas filmmakers of 2009". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  11. ^ "The Next Tim Day - UT Documentary Center". The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Award Winners". Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Variety's Mentor of the Year: Paul Stekler Champions Cinematic Risk-Taking". Variety. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Indie Focus: 'Winnebago Man'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  15. ^ Communications, Emmis (March 2008). "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty - UT's best teachers chosen by those who know them best- students". The Alcalde. 96, Number 4 (March/April 2008): 61. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Ben Steinbauer and Jack Rebney". Screen Comment. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  17. ^ Danielle, Kourtesis. "Exclusive: Interview with Ben Steinbauer, Director of Winnebago Man". Flavorwire. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  18. ^ "2009 SXSW Film Festival Announces Complete Line-Up". /Film. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  19. ^ "The Love Connection: Michael Moore hearts Austin and two of its funniest filmmakers, Bob Byington and Ben Steinbauer". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  20. ^ Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2012. The Best Films of 2010: Andrew McMeels Publishing. 2011-12-06. p. 677. ISBN 9781449408138. Retrieved 10 November 2019.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  21. ^ "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Episode #92 - Wanda Sykes, Ben Steinbauer, Jack Rebney, 3OH!3". Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Winnebago Man director Ben Steinbauer on his new music film". MusicFilmWeb. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Documentary Subjects Wanted with Rory Scovel". Funny Or Die. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Call of doodie- new film reminisces about the lost art of prank calling". Oklahoma Gazette (35): 59. August 27, 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Calls to Okies: The Park Grubbs Story - Short Film". Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  26. ^ "SXSW Announces 2015 Midnighters and Shorts Program". IndieWire. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  27. ^ a b c "Vimeo Staff Picks on Vimeo". Vimeo. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  28. ^ "The Superlative Light - 2016 Online Film Festival". PBS. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  29. ^ "The Superlative Light - SXSW 2016 Event Schedule". SXSW. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Interview: Ben Steinbauer, director, "The Superlative Light"". Lights Camera Austin. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  31. ^ "The Man Who Photographed the Brightest Light in the Universe- The story of formerly-homeless photographer Robert Shults is captured in a new documentary". VICE. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  32. ^ "The Superlative Light". NOWNESS. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  33. ^ "Stories of the Mind". Mental Health Channel. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Where Is Your Mind? Stories of the Mind brings mental health issues to light". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Stories of the Mind Wins Emmy". Two Shot West. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  36. ^ "Opinion - Slow to Show". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  37. ^ "The New York Times Op-Docs Returns to IFC Center in New York". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  38. ^ "Heroes from the Storm — A new Texas Monthly documentary showcases examples of the Texas spirit during Hurricane Harvey". TexasMonthly. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  39. ^ "Heroes From The Storm". American Film Showcase. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  40. ^ "American and Pakistani Filmmakers Share Ideas with Audiences". U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  41. ^ "Ben Steinbauer Commits Some Pink Collar Crimes: Winnebago Man director on his new CBS true crime show". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  42. ^ "Austin Film Festival's Texas Shorts are Having an Identity Celebration". Sightlines - Arts, Culture, News & Ideas. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  43. ^ "Film News: And the rest ..." The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  44. ^ "The strange story of 'The World's Angriest RV Salesman'". MPR News. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  45. ^ "Winnebago Man - Kino Lorber Theatrical". Kino Lorber. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  46. ^ "2010 Awards". Austin Film Critics Association. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  47. ^ "2012 Awards". Sidewalk Film Center & Cinema. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  48. ^ "2012" (PDF). New Media Film Festival. Retrieved 10 November 2019.