Dan Braman ( Host / Athlete )
For most people it may seem like making a hunting show would be the ultimate job. There is so much that goes into this behind the scenes that rarely if ever gets explained. This effort is tripled for us because we demand from ourselves that we have the best quality in all aspects before our audience can see it. The best way to explain all of the moving parts of making a single episode is to place you, the reader, at our side through the entire process.
Beginning right after turkey season, the hosts of WildLifers along with its entire production crew sit down and discuss what we are going to hunt, where we are going to hunt, and when we are going to do it. After this list has been established then it is time to call the outfitters and make the arrangements. If a new outfitter is being used much more time is needed to make certain we have the power for battery changing and computers for file transferring. If one or more of the destinations is in a remote area, we must make arrangements to have enough batteries with us to last through the trip. With this all locked down, the calendar moves to our first hunt date. Once again our producer, Chris Koch will go over the entire hunt with us in a meeting and help develop a storyline. Everyone involved in the meeting will discuss shot lists and everything else that can possibly be discussed. Usually two days before we depart, the equipment needed will begin getting organized and placed in a plethora of cases and bags for the trip. This list is extensive. There are multiple cameras, tripods, batteries, lenses, drones, computers, drives, and small items that go with each of those. Once we arrive at our destination the producer and other camera operators will already have a rough idea in their heads of what the final product will look like. But, this is reality-based television completely at the mercy of Mother Nature. Weather, animal movement, and various other issues that are uncontrollable by us are in the driver’s seat. For example, if it is a whitetail hunt in the Midwest that we are doing, we must first get a good portion of this equipment into a tree stand. If we are fortunate enough to see something then we must hope that the animal comes in at an angle that allows the cameras a view. If the animal doesn’t present himself with a good camera angle, the shot is not taken. Imagine freezing in your tree stand and finally having the opportunity at a monster whitetail and can’t take your shot. To say that frustration sets in is possibly the understatement of the century. On the other hand, if it all goes like you want and the animal comes in such a way that the cameraman gives you the green light to take your shot. Now, you must do your job flawlessly or all was done in vain. If this goes well, everything then falls onto the producer’s shoulders of capturing the walk up while the true and real excitement is flowing. With the WidLifers, nothing you see is ever faked, so, if the cameraman misses the opportunity to capture the true emotions of the hunter this is a lost episode and wasted money. Now imagine having to repeat this step with three hosts over the course of an entire hunting season. As well there is that awful pain in the backside called “B Role”. This is the imagery the viewer sees between all of the excitement. There are few things more frustrating on this planet then when your cold, wet, wanting coffee and the creative minds of camera personnel decide it’s time to do a timelapse of a leaf’s reflection on a stock pond. Once this forty minute (at best) project is completed and all you can think about is coffee, you’ll begin hearing things like “walk this way I want to film your feet”. Perhaps you almost make it back to your vehicle where there is a heater waiting to be turned on and someone says, “Hey Dan, stop and give me a recap of what just happened.” The first thing that I begin to think is, you were right beside me, how in the hell can you not know what just happened? Then I do what is asked after acting like a four year old for a few minutes.
The unsung heroes of Outdoor TV are those that produce the shows. Their ability to see the outcome in their heads and edit things is truly remarkable. The hours spent on each episode is truly insane and these guys do it everyday. Editing is done so much they’ve dubbed it, “ editing season”. When you decide that you spend enough time on something to refer to it as a season you know for a fact that you’re busy. My point is that making hunting television is a wonderful thing to do. But, it isn’t as glamorous as a lot of people think it is. In the above lines I very briefly touched on the things that must happen to successfully create a show. The list of things that I didn’t mention are all the other background work that goes into marketing and is much larger than what you have read. Kudos to all of the people behind the cameras and computer screens; we the hosts get all the glory while these people do most of the work. With that said, after you watch your favorite Outdoor TV show stay a few seconds longer and read the credits, that’s all the recognition these people ever get. Read their names and Google it, check them out on social media, I think you’ll find a collection of truly breathtaking photography and a glimpse inside of the minds of those that truly are the heartbeat of this industry.