Greg Bonann, one of the Executive Producers and Director of Baywatch, became the subject of the fairy tale book “A Chance for Children” and was voted by the international committee of the Premio Sciacca at the Vatican City, for the “International Award Guiseppe Sciacca in Cinematography & Voluntarism”.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bonann was a swimmer whose dream was to become a lifeguard. His dream came realized in 1970 and he has remained a lifeguard ever since. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach, he combined his business education with his gift of storytelling and began a career in filmmaking.
He eventually produced and directed the official film for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. His “Fire and Ice” went on to win eight prestigious awards. More importantly, the honors gave him the impetus to produce and direct the official films for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games (“Frozen in Time”), the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games (“Elements of Gold”), and the 1988 Calgary Winter Games (“City of Gold”).
Additionally, Bonann also worked on the production “Steel Chariots” (20th TV/FOX, 1996), “Avalon” (Viacom/UPN, 1999), “Shadow Warriors” (Rysher/Syn, 1997), producer and director in “She Spies” (MGM/NBC, 2002-2004) as well as produced and directed 60 industrial, educational and documentary films on themes touching the environment, ecology, energy, education, technology, culture, religion and science. In 2012, he served as the Chief Judge at the Film International Aquatic History Symposium & Film Festival organized by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Where did this road to Hollywood start for the swimmer and lifeguard?
In 1988, he created a music video featuring his lifeguard buddies doing what they do best on a hot beach day to the beat of Don Henley’s hit song Boys of Summer. This montage served as the blueprint for what would become Baywatch on American television one year later. Baywatch was seen as the most popular series in television history, with more than 300 episodes screened in more than 100 countries to billions of viewers. Its actors not only became international superstars, but the program also gave prestige to the lifeguard profession. “It helped rescue organizations promote their humanitarian activities and acted as a distance learning education of all viewers on rescue techniques and the dangers that hide in the water,” recalls Dr. Stathis Avramidis, a recognized water safety expert. Bonann has directed over 70 episodes of Baywatch as well as most of the action and rescue scenes during its run and directed over 400 of his signature music montages.
During the first year of filming of Baywatch, Bonann used his real-life lifeguard training when he saved a boy from drowning. He made three dives under water to locate the unconscious boy, who had sunk under the surface for more than 5 minutes, for which he received a Medal of Valor.
Over his career, he has also received the Gold Medallion Award presented by the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the Title of Commander in the Order of Lifesaving presented by the Belgian Life Saving Federation, and the appointment to Knight in the Order of Lifesaving by the International Life Saving Federation.
In 1992, he and Tai Collins, a former model and screenwriter for Baywatch, founded Camp Baywatch to giving homeless and at-risk children a better chance to succeed in life. When the series ended, it was renamed to A Chance For Children and has been running for 21 years under its motto, ‘Kids go where is excitement…but they stay where there is love’.
Bonann’s personal motto is ‘It is easier to built strong children than to repair broken men’. Currently, the pair is shooting in South Africa a new television series SAF3 that aims to repeat the success of Baywatch, by showing action, the relationships, and the emotions of an elite rescue team.
After Dr. Avramidis wrote the book ‘A Chance For Children’ in which he made references to Baywatch filming, a drowning rescue intervention, and Greg’s voluntary work, he nominated Bonann for an award to the International Giuseppe Sciacca Awards (Premio Internazionale Giuseppe Sciacca). This is an international organization endorsed by the European Union, the Presidency of the Italian Democracy, and various National Olympic Committees. Greg was voted in two distinctive categories – cinematography and voluntarism. Due to his demanding schedule in shooting “SAF3”, it is hoped that he will find the time to accept this international prestigious honor in November 16, 2014 at the Vatican city.
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