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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Chris Yoder Rory Kramer crowdsurfs while filming the Chainsmokers during their surprise April show at the Venue in Angola.

  • Kramer, seated, brought the Chainsmokers to Clear Lake, where they were filmed for an upcoming episode of his MTV show.

  • Kramer, right, pursued his passion of making videos, which has led to relationships with a number of musical acts.

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

Clear Lake man lives dream

Videographer behind surprise Chainsmokers show

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

It's early morning on a Wednesday in Los Angeles and Rory Kramer is doing something most of us detest: Going to the DMV.

He explains by phone that his vehicle registration is expired and that this is the last day he has to get it taken care of. He would've already had it done if it weren't for the fact his mail was stolen, his assistant forgot to mail in the payment and then he never received it once it was paid. To add insult, he was pulled over and given a ticket.

So now, he's on his way to get it fixed. It's the first chance he's had to get it done as he's been on the road working.

Kramer is a videographer. For those who live in the Angola area or had their social media blow up a few weeks ago about the Chainsmokers performing a free show at the Venue – he's that Rory Kramer.

The guy responsible for bringing the duo to Clear Lake in late April and then having them perform at the Angola night club. He's also the reason Justin Bieber was there in September 2015.

Clear Lake is home to Kramer. It's where his parents have a lake house and where he's most comfortable. He tries to get back as much as he can, he says. 

Many of his videos feature his time at Clear Lake, spending his days with family and friends. 

Kramer says his grandparents had a place there and it's where he spent all his summers in college.

“It really became a place where I found myself when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life,” Kramer says.

And now his life is going to be featured in his own show on MTV slated to debut June 7. The eight-episode series will focus on what he does for a living, how he videos a music artist and their concert and how he got discovered.

“People always wonder if it's too late,” the 32-year-old says of finding his passion in life. “I'm proof that it's never too late.” 

Being discovered

Most people are surprised to find out that Kramer was only “discovered” about three years ago.

Kramer is originally from Tell City, in southern Indiana, but “I always say I'm from the lake,” he says.

When he was young, he picked up his mom's video recorder and started making videos. He later graduated from Indiana University. But at 25 years old, he found himself living in his parents' basement, thinking, “I'm going nowhere,” he says.

It was then he decided to move to Los Angeles. He got a job with a digital media company, where he would prepare films for such companies as Netflix. He says he literally watched movies all day. However, after a year, he decided the job wasn't for him and began to hate going to work. But Kramer says he held on for 41/2 years. Then at age 30 – actually on his birthday – he turned in his two weeks notice and quit his 9-to-5 job.

He began to focus full time on the one thing that he loved – making videos.

He had made a series of vidoes called “Lake Life” and posted them on YouTube. The videos became popular and were noticed by the manager of DJ 3LAU (pronounced Blau). Kramer was asked to go on tour with 3LAU, where he filmed him performing onstage.

That led to other things, including doing a video for Swedish EDM musician Avicii, in which Kramer actually appears. His video for “The Nights” has been seen more than 270 million times on YouTube since it was posted two years ago.

He also has worked with other artists, including the Chainsmokers and Bieber, working on his video “I'll Show You” while he and Bieber were in Iceland.

“As a kid, you always have these dreams you hope to do with your life,” Kramer says. “I never thought it would be something like this.”

Pro 'life liver'

Kramer has been friends with the Chainsmokers for two years. He says the EDM duo had wanted to come to the lake for a while and when their schedules matched up, he brought them home.

The Chainsmokers' visit to Clear Lake last month was taped and will be part of one of the MTV episodes, Kramer says.

The musicians flew in early that morning after a show in Pittsburgh. They were woken up by Kramer and his mom and dad shooting them with Super Soakers, Kramer says. That was followed by driving around the lake, shooting targets filled with explosives, sliding down a giant slip and slide and then performing at the Venue.

“I wanted to try and shut down this town,” Kramer says, referring to Angola. He says he told the duo that most of the people in the area probably would never get to go to one of their shows, so they packed the bar with about 200 people and then the Chainsmokers performed an entire hour.

“(It was) probably the best day of my life,” Kramer says. “To give (the community) something like that was neat.”

It's hard not to like Kramer. Watching his videos, which include water, him jumping off of stuff, more water, being crazy with friends and family, driving around in his reconstructed American-themed convertible and of course, more water, make you smile. It's really about a guy enjoying life.

When he's not videoing (which is rarely ever), he says he likes to go hiking, cliff jumping and adventuring. “I love having conversations … getting ice cream … and board games.” One of his favorites to play is Catan, a multiplayer game that involves explorers building settlements on the island of Catan.

He describes himself as a “professional life liver” – someone who pursues his passions.

And although it took him awhile to embrace his passion, his advice for others is to “enjoy the process and enjoy the ups and downs … do it because you love it.”

After his MTV show, Kramer is hoping to build his brand, which includes his clothing company that features items with his life motto “Run It!” He wants to show that “I'm not just a video guy,” he says.

“At the end of the day, I'm just a guy with a camera,” Kramer says. “I'm no different than anyone else.”

Which is why he's spending his morning driving 40 minutes to the DMV to take care of an expired registration. Kramer says, “These moments like this just put it into perspective.”