Discover Wisconsin is longest running tourism series in the nation. As producer and sole leader of these episodes I am assigned, I am responsible every step of the way, from pre to post-production. After the episodes are sold, I work with a community's tourism board to design a detailed outline that encompasses their main points of focus while also allowing me to create a captivating story. From there, I plan out the production schedule based on this outline, and work with a small team of videographers throughout the year to capture the various businesses, events and outdoor recreation available in their community. After the year of production is complete, I transcribe, organize and script the episode. Once the script is approved, I rough edit the episode before handing it off to an editor who I colloborate with to bring it all together. Other responsibilities for each episode included web pages, blog posts, behind-the-scenes photos and social media teasers.
Nominated for a Midwest Emmy in 2019, 'Back to Nature' tells a story of conservation and bringing the land back to what it once was. I worked with two partners, The Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, WI, and the Wisconsin DNR, to share why hunting and maintaining the land are so important for the Earth and our future. I had the honor of telling the story of conservation legend Aldo Leopold and all that he has done to teach and inspire generations environmentalists. What I learned while piecing this one together, as well as the people I met and experiences I had, I will never forget.
As one of the themed episodes I worked on, 'Wisconsin's Walking Tours' is drastically different than the rest. It encompasses the 4 historic downtowns of Burlington, Plymouth, Ashland and Waukesha. My goal was to tap into the history and culture of each with our Host Mariah Haberman(right), and present a story to our audience of how these downtowns have become what you see today. It was also very different because the focus was literally on the walking tours, so a lot of movement and gimbal work involved in the filming, most of which done by me. If there's one thing I took away from this one, it's that Wisconsin has a deep rooted history and there's so much to explore.
With Whitewater being so well-rounded as a community, this episode was one of my favorites from Season 33. I was able to start it off with a whole segment devoted to the life-blood of this town; the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. I also really wanted to bring focus to how beautiful Whitewater is, being surrounded by lakes, and countless trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. I even talked Mariah into hang gliding for the first time on the show, as it's the only place you can do it in the state. I think this episode has some of the best drone footage of the season because of the natural beauty of the landscape here. But what was surprising was finding out that Whitewater is also known as "Second Salem", as we got to dive into this spooky past and do some investigating for ourselves.
Being the farthest I've traveled for a one-location episode, New Richmond presented new production challenges over on the Western edge of the state. Taking into account the distance and budget, I designed a schedule for half of the amount of shoots of a normal episode, with longer days and overnights. I was also able breathe the content out a bit more, as you'll notice there's not as much included. This allowed for more time spent on these fewer subjects, and to really utilize all of the great interview and scenic footage we had. When creating this one it was also interesting to see how different things are on the edge of the state, and reminded me how diverse Wisconsin can be from one corner to another.
As a true Wisconsinite, this episode focusing on Wisconsin's Craft Beverages was probably the most fun for me. Bouncing between La Crosse, Ripon and Stevens Point areas, we captured a diverse group of quality brewers, distillers and wine-makers from each. My goal was to not make it feel repetitive, and really tap into what each craft had to offer. From the process involved in making the drinks, to the different ingredients included, as well as the atmosphere and location of the establishment. My team and I tried to take each spot from a different angle. As each master of their craft has their own personality and focus, so do their beverages. From micro brews and small batch distilling, to large-scale factory production, Wisconsin's got it all.
Known as the 'Crossroads with a Future', Johnson Creek was one of the easier locations to get to, and so much of the content captured resides right off the highway. So that is the approach I took, starting with the legendary stops such as The Pine Cone or the Premium Outlets but then diving into what people didn't know this village had. There's deep Native American roots in Aztalan State Park and so much to explore up and down the Rock River. And we really utilized the fantastic drone footage in this episode to transition from these highway locations. Working on episode's like this remind me that no matter what you think you know about a community or it's location, there's always more to learn and appreciate.
Revived and refreshed, this city had a lot new things to cover and is continuously growing their downtown. Surrounded by a beautiful new library, quality stops like Valentine Coffee and BelAir, and tons of community events, Oak Creek really wanted almost the entirety of the episode focused on their new Drexel Town Square(left). So I really focused on giving each event and establishment their own character, from different types of camera movements to using our Host Eric Paulsen in creative ways, such as at the City 13 escape room. The community here is truly thriving; I've never been to so many great events that brought out the whole community every week in their downtown square.