Rochester Mini Maker Faire. My friend Dan Bentley, who makes the most incredible robot sculptures called Retrobots, had his 'bots on display near my table. We were passing time as we waited for the doors to open. He mentioned that he had been approached by WXXI producer Tom Dooley about being featured on a new program that would be called Arts in Focus. The show would showcase artists from Rochester and around the country. He asked if he should put in a good word for me. "Sure!" I said.
Before the end of the day, Tom Dooley who had stopped by to talk to Dan and check out the Maker Faire came over to my table to introduce himself. I explained what I did, gave him my card, and he said he would get in contact with me. I was a little surprised when he did, and we set up a time for him to come to my home and do an interview. He said he would like to do the interview in my creative space. I don't think he knew that at that moment that my creative space was a cold basement room with pretty crummy light.
Tom showed up at my house in late December with videographer Jim Day. I said we could shoot in the dining room with good light, or the living room that was a bit less echo-y. They said they wanted to see where I worked. As soon as they walked into the basement they said, "yes, let's do it here." Fortunately I worked for days cleaning it up. Not too much, I wanted to leave artwork from my friends in RNEST, and that made by my daughter to remain in the background had they chose to shoot in this space. Jim asked up to give him a little time to set up a few lights and get things set up in the room. Tom and I talked a bit about how the show would go and I pried into his world travels a bit.
Jim called us back to the basement and we got the microphone and sounds checks done. Then Tom asked me questions. I did not know what the questions would be before time. I was confident in being able to field most questions they would have. After doing some podcasting in the past, I wasn't afraid of the camera or microphone. Unlike podcasting, I didn't have the ability to self censor myself, or do something over. However, I had trust that the pro's at WXXI like Tom and his editors would be able to cut things together to make me sound good, and to tell a coherent story, even if I wasn't able to do that on the fly. I think all the questions went great, until they got to the question I had dreaded, but knew would come up, "how is what you do art?"
Well, I fumbled my way through the question, going in very esoteric directions. After I finished, Tom asked me the question in a different way, and asked me to clarify some things. I don't remember exactly what he asked, but it worked, and I answered the question in a different way that didn't sound so idiotic. I have always viewed my work as a bit more mechanic, more craftsman. But after answering the questions Tom presented, I came to a new conclusion. Sometimes my work is very "paint by numbers," but other times I am making artistic decisions about what to include, what to leave out, what mood or movement do I want to bring to the stamp. And wouldn't you know, this was a very important part of the interview that made the final cut.
After about an hour of talking, we moved over to the carving table and I worked on a stamp of the Bausch & Lomb building from the Rochester skyline. I felt very comfortable in this roll, as Jim worked his way around the table getting different angles. I always wanted some video of me doing this, so this was cool to see it happening.
Tom and Jim finished up and we said our farewells. They informed me that the segment would be cut down from a couple hours of footage to about 5 minutes. I didn't envy them that job, but knew as professionals they had it covered. I emailed a few high-res scans that they wanted to use in the segment, and I waited patiently for the premiere.
I was a bit shocked when the show got advertised in the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper in mid-January, and they used a picture of me carving! I didn't see that one coming. Cat was out of the bag now! People at work started calling me Jack Bear. Oh boy, time to embrace this thing.
Well, the day came, and the show aired on WXXI on February 6, at 8:30 pm (prime time people!) I DVR'd it, and watched it with my wife later that evening when she got off of work. I crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn't sound ridiculous. My fears were immediately relieved when I heard my voice and knew I had been well taken care of. And what good company I had on the show; Ward Stare for crying out loud! Man, am I honored to be on the same show as this talent.
So that is the behind the scene story of my interview! Thank you so much to Dan, Tom, Jim, and all the other behind the camera folks that work to put this show on the air at WXXI. I'm on cloud nine.