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A day in the life of an AETN producer

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  • Mark Wilcken
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This is a guest post by Mark Wilcken, producer of the AETN series "Men & Women of Distinction."

If anyone is wondering what goes into making an episode of Men and Women of Distinction, let me tell you a little story.

Last weekend I drove up to Fayetteville to meet Miller Williams, our next featured subject, and Ernie Dumas, the host, to shoot some outdoor footage for the episode. While we had shot the sit-down interview back in November, we still needed the walk-and-talk, where Ernie and Miller would literally walk and talk around the U of A campus. Most likely youve seen the walk-and-talk in other shows but havent noticed it. For me, its my favorite part of the production of these shows. Its like the cherry on top of a sundae; that little something extra that makes the show more interesting.

Anyway, I had gotten to the campus early and luckily it was spring break so it was easy to find a parking spot. I had a few minutes to scope out Old Main and find some areas I wanted to shoot before my D.P. arrived. D.P. is short for director of photography. My DP arrived shortly after I did, and, to make a long story slightly less long, we soon discovered we had a camera problem and couldnt use the one we had.

In order to salvage the shoot we needed another camera, but being spring break there were no available resources on campus. The only camera we could get our hands on was back in Conway at AETN, but that was a long drive, and we were worried about getting back before the sun set. So, to help things along I contacted my associate producer and asked if he could grab the camera and start driving west. My DP and I would hop in the car and start driving east. The plan was to keep driving until we met somewhere in the middle, thus eliminating time from our drive.

Everything (this time) worked as planned, and with us calling each other every 10 minutes we eventually realized we would crisscross around the Norman exit, so that was where we would meet. Gabe and I pulled off at the exit and up to an abandoned gas station and waited. Barely 3 minutes passed before we saw another AETN van pulling off the highway. The exchange lasted less than a minute, and before you knew it we were back on the road heading toward Fayetteville.

The shoot was saved, even though it was later than I had originally planned. Lucky for me, the afternoon light was much nicer, and we got some beautiful shots.

Now, if you want to see these amazing shots that I drove to Fayetteville, then to Norman, then back to Fayetteville to get, then watch the episode of Men & Women of Distinction featuring Miller Williams coming in 2010!