Podcast       About       Newsletter

[PODCAST EP07] Seizing Opportunities in Live Events with Dave Nuckolls

Dave-Nuckolls-production-channel-featured3
Dave-Nuckolls-production-channel-featured3

In this latest episode of The Production Channel, Stephen Bowles and Clem Harrod take time out to speak with network television and live event producer, Dave Nuckolls. Dave has a versatile resume that includes leading teams to develop and execute special feature projects for television at CNN, large-scale productions like Walt Disney World grand openings and press events, and international celebrations like the Olympic ceremonies and the Pan-American Games. When asked about how he got into the event production business, Dave says, “I guess I’m kind of that overused cliché of not knowing what you want to be when you grow up. That’s me. Even today, I still don’t know what’s next, and I think I kind of like that about myself.”

 

download-itunes

Dave Nuckolls grew up in a small Nebraska town, and at an early age, he started working for his father’s local newspaper business. He gained valuable experience in journalism doing writing, photography work and even some advertising and selling. Later, in college, he realized that working in print wasn’t stimulating enough so he decided to major in broadcast journalism. Just after graduation, Dave was busy sending out resumes when his parents attended Walt Disney World’s 15th A
nniversary press event. They told him that Disney was his best bet for a job, and he should head down to Orlando. Upon arrival, he didn’t land his dream job immediately, but he did manage to get a position working the front desk at the Contemporary Hotel. This job opened many doors to him. He met the right people in the audio/visual department, and over the years, he was put in line to transfer to the Disney creative entertainment division where he eventually became a producer of special events.

In this interview, Dave tells Stephen and Clem several stories that shaped his career. One of his experiences was instrumental to his involvement with Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner. Dave saved the day by writing a speech for Mr. Eisner that was delivered for a press event with the President of the United States in attendance. Dave says, “Somebody had to do something. I figured what the heck, let’s give my best shot, and it paid off.” From that day on, Dave became Eisner’s right-hand guy for future special events.

His adventures at Disney led to him to working with ABC network executive, Rick Kaplan, who later became the president of CNN. When Kaplaheadshotn went to CNN, he tapped Dave to lead the new special projects division. Dave produced a series of sponsored feature stories called “Voices of the Millennium” where he interviewed many recognizable people about topics affecting the approaching millennium. Dave’s journalistic skills came full circle at this point, and he stayed at CNN for 13 years.

Dave went back into the special events world with production company Five Currents, and this time, he tackled the international arena by producing Olympic ceremonies in Sochi and the Pan-American Games in Toronto. He says he learned some memorable advice. “When you first go into a location to do a ceremony for a country, or for a city, or for whomever, you just have to spend time learning, just spend time listening… When it all comes down, I think, in what we do, large show, small show, whatever it is, it’s about storytelling.” Dave continues to do special events and corporate shows as a freelancer. “When I stop and think about it, I am very pleased with how my career has gone, but I tell you, I always am wondering what’s next.”

Join the conversation as Stephen, Clem and Dave Nuckolls discuss about how being ready for anything is the key to success in the production world and that ultimately putting family first is a priority in this crazy business.

 

Full Podcast Transcript

Stephen Bowles:
All right everybody, welcome back to the Production Channel. I’m joined by my good friend here, Clem Harrod. What up, Clem?

Clem Harrod:
Yo, yo, yo.

Stephen Bowles:
What’s going on, dude? How you been doing?

Clem Harrod:
Man, I’ve been enjoying this time off. Just finished a beautiful show in New York. Spent a week up in Manhattan down in the financial district. Don’t spend time there. It was nice, man. It was relaxing. It was beautiful.

Stephen Bowles:
Did you go see the World Trade Center?

Clem Harrod:
I did.

Stephen Bowles:
Or whatever it is called now?

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, the-

Stephen Bowles:
One Trade Center?

Clem Harrod:
I saw One Trade, the Freedom Tower, saw the Statue of Liberty, just had some nice reflecting moments and early before my call. Taking that walk to the office. Getting some jump roping in. It was nice, man, relaxing.

Stephen Bowles:
You’re jump roping in Manhattan? In New York City?

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, man. Well, I don’t like to run because it’s, you know, it’s a lot on the knees. Being as tall as I am, I don’t want to hurt my knees, so I’ll walk and enjoy the day. When I get to my destination, or place of peace, I’ll put out the jump rope, get that heart rate up and just knock it out real quick. That’s my exercise.

Stephen Bowles:
Awesome. I love shows in New York City, man. Those are my favorite. I feel like if you’re going to walk to work every day, you can either be in Vegas and walk through all …

Clem Harrod:
Oh god no.

Stephen Bowles:
… that crap and the casinos, and you just feel miserable, or you walk in New York City and you’re just like, “Ah, I feel so alive. There’s just so much activity going on and it’s only 6:30 a.m. or whatever.”

Clem Harrod:
Right, right, exactly.

Stephen Bowles:
I love it. Well, cool, man. I’m excited about today. We’ve got someone awesome today, someone who has done some big, big stuff.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Stephen Bowles:
Let me, real quick, give him an awesome intro. So, we’re joined today by Dave Nuckolls, right? Dave is a producer and director of live entertainment productions, really like worldwide, right?Oscar

Clem Harrod:
Like the big stuff.

Stephen Bowles:
The big stuff, like Olympics, the Emmy’s.

Clem Harrod:
And not one. Not two.

Stephen Bowles:
Oh, no. Multiple, multiple different Olympics and Emmy’s. It’s really cool stuff and we’re really excited to have Dave here today, so welcome, Dave.

Dave Nuckolls:
Well, thank you very much. I don’t know, after that intro, hope we can live up to that. No, this is great. I really appreciate being part of this. I love what you guys are doing and it’s fun to be asked to be a part of it, so thanks so much.
Stephen Bowles: That’s awesome man, thank you. Clem, before we get into it, talk to anyone if this is their first episode. What are we doing here? What’s the Production Channel?

Clem Harrod:
First of all, I just want to say welcome. Welcome to the Production Channel. This is a place where, only three on the mic right now, but you are joining us and this is a place where we can come, gather, listen, share, experience our world without being on show-site. This is an opportunity to have conversations and learn from people who have been through some things and who are going to continue to go through things and just are willing to share our stories so that our voice gets out there, but also so people can learn how they can be better, or survive, or just make it in this industry.
Stephen Bowles: That’s right. Yeah, well I mean, the other day we just want to bring relevant and things that help us. We’re all working in this industry. It’s a niche industry and it’s almost hard to talk about with other people who are not from it. So sometimes you don’t get to hear those stories until you meet your buddy the third time that year or whatever backstage. We just try to bring stories like that and people like that onto the podcast.
So, Dave is a perfect example of that. With Dave, with your experience really ranging from the big commercial level events to working backstage in a hotel ballroom doing a traditional, just sort of corporate event. You’ve kind of seen the whole gambit. I guess to get us going, Dave, first questions to you. How did you even get into this industry? We’re always curious how people found the production industry, so how, for you, did you get into the production industry?

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, I guess that’s a question we often ask ourselves, and that’s like, “What in the world go us into this?” I guess I’m kind of that overused cliché of not knowing what you want to be when you grow up. That’s me. Even today, I still don’t know what’s next and I think I kind of like that about myself. I’m just kind of always ready for whatever you’re hit with and you kind of see what you can make out of it.
I thought I would always want to be in journalism somehow, someway. My father owned a newspaper in a small Nebraska town. From a very, very early age, I was always doing everything that you could possibly do with the newspaper from actually even doing some writing, lot of photography work, makeup, selling, advertising, everything that they do there. So, I kind of thought that’s what I wanted to do, but print media even back then didn’t excite me that much. It wasn’t stimulated enough. I thought that w: dadprobably video production was the way I wanted to go, so I took broadcast journalism classes at the University of Nebraska and that did kind of help provide a little bit more of a guide of where I thought I wanted to go with my career.
Stephen Bowles: And when you were doing the broadcast journalism, is that more in front of the camera or behind the camera at that point?

Dave Nuckolls:
They’re really good at Nebraska about letting you explore everything, and so we did both. The in front of the camera, you guys both know I’ve got a good face for radio more so than in front of a camera, so that wasn’t going to be for me. I have always really been inspired and excited about that technical side of things, so behind the scenes was really going to be the direction that I wanted to go, so that’s really where I focused my energy even through school.

Clem Harrod:
So, right outside of Nebraska, what was your first jump into this industry? I mean, where did you go from there?

Dave Nuckolls:
Well, when I graduated, I just knew that some large company wanted to pay me tons of money and give me this sweet job, and so I sat in my apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska and sent resumes from there. 133 resumes later, I realized that maybe that wasn’t the approach that was going to get me what I wanted.
At about the same, my father, who was the president of the Nebraska Press Association at the time, was invited to one of those Disney press events. We’ve all heard about them, we’ve all experienced them, and he was invited to the 15th press event at Walt Disney World. When he and my mom came back, they said, “Okay, just go there. Just get down there. Disney is amazing. You’ve just got to get a job. They’re doing something. Send out your little resumes from down there. In the meantime, you can get started with a good company.”
So, that’s exactly what I did. I put everything I could in my little Fiero car and drove down to Orlando with no apartment, no job, nothing waiting for me other than a company that had lots of opportunity, as it turned out.

Stephen Bowles:
That is so similar to Richard Dun’s story. We had him on. He’s a lighting designer from the industry and he was on few episodes back and he had a very similar story. He just put everything in the car and drove down to Disney and said, “I’m going to find something. I’m betting it all on Disney,” essentially.

Clem Harrod:
It’s so interesting-

Dave Nuckolls:
But it all worked out-

Clem Harrod:
Go ahead, Dave. Go.

Dave Nuckolls:
Well, I was just going to say, you know, you just start making those contacts and I quickly found that there was the Eyes and Ears, the publication there on property and I picked one of those up and was able to find a place a live. I lived with this woman who rented me a room for one month until I couldn’t take it anymore. I found another place to live from that point on. But I had to go somewhere, you know?
I also found a fellow Nebraskan that was working in casting, the higher employment division of Disney. He told me that, at the time, working at the Contemporary Hotel would be the way to go because that was kind of the epicenter of Walt Disney World then. This was before all of the expansion, before the Swan and Dolphin and all the other hotels. It was really just the Magic Kingdom at Epcot Center and what was on the monorail. The Grand Flurry had just been built and the Cotemporary. So, I actually got a job at the Contemporary front desk. Who knew?

Stephen Bowles:
Whoa.

Dave Nuckolls:
I know nothing about working at a hotel, but this was his suggestion. He said, “All the executives pass by. If you show you can come to work on time, if you show you can handle money and be responsible,” he just felt that would be a really good place for me to start. So, that’s where I started, and before I moved on from that position, I was promoted three times working through different assignments on some new projects that they had going and some of the expansion. So, my Disney career started at the Contemporary.walter

Clem Harrod:
At the front desk.

Stephen Bowles:
You almost skipped the entire AV stuff and a different path for you might have been like a hotel manager or something like that.

Dave Nuckolls:
It could have been, you know, and that’s the thing. When I talk to people, and they, “What advice do you have?” It’s like, “Always be ready for anything.” My resume is always current. Back in the day I used to have hard copies with me, well then gosh we have thumb drives so we can keep it there. Now everything’s on the cloud so you don’t have to carry anything with you, but I always have my bio ready, I always have my resume ready, always have … Now, I have reels of video, shows that I’ve done. It’s just always important to be ready.
So, at the Contemporary, they would say, “Hey, we’ve got a brand new piece of software. We’re going to roll it out for the whole property. Who wasn’t to be a part of this team?” Before they even finished the description, my hand was up because it just was always something, you know. Anytime that there’s something that seems like a challenge and there’s some question about the direction and all that, that’s for me.
So, yeah, you never know. It could have gone any direction from there, but I will tell you one thing that they had said is that a gentleman by the name of Tom Kervitsky, who was running the audiovisual department at the time, his office was in the Contemporary. They told me, they said, “You know what? You’re going to run into him in the lunch room. You’re going to see him from time to time. If that’s really where you want to end up, you know, get to know him that way. Just more on a casual basis and then maybe something could come from that.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Stephen Bowles:
Oh, nice.

Clem Harrod:
What year was this?

Dave Nuckolls:
1987, May-

Stephen Bowles:
1980s, oh.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yep, May 12, 1987. Everybody remembers your Disney hiring date, so that was a long time. Long time ago.

Clem Harrod:
And so much has changed. What I appreciated from your story is how many resumes you sent out and then your parents help you to realize that, go this direction. But sending out all those resumes, thinking about that rejection and not hearing anything back, but it did not deter you from still going after what you knew you wanted to do.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, it was a real lesson for me. You know, sometimes you get that form letter back, and I’ve got a stack of them. At this point I’ve taken picture of them and I use them if I’m asked to give any kind of remarks or whatever. Sometimes I’ll lead with a picture of my stack of rejection letters. It’s also fun to go back and see some of the letters from companies or individuals that I now have worked with. I’ve got my Disney rejection letter, and I’ve got my ABC rejection letter, and I’ve got different things that it’s kind of been fun to pull those out and show people. It’s like, “Yeah, well, times have changed. Back that I guess I wasn’t right for it, but it’s nice to see that things have changed.”
But yeah, that was a big lesson, and that’s another thing that I like to tell people is that the face to face contact and just learning about the position that you want by actually going there and seeing people face to face is huge. That’s kind of what my folks told me. It’s like, just get down there and stop just sending things through the mail. That’s not working. That was good advice from them for sure.

Clem Harrod:
Oh, defiantly. That could go a long way, that face to face, that showing that dedication,
not just the easy stuff. Sending a letter is easy. Sending a text message is easy. An email, easy, but if you are taking the time to put yourself out there by any means necessary, that’s going to stand out in the eyes of somebody.

Dave Nuckolls:
Absolutely right. And I’ve hired many people throughout my career since then, and so that kind of comes back to me as well. You know, when somebody takes the time to stop by to drop their resume off or to stop by to just say, “Hello. Sometime I’d like to have 10 minutes of your time, if it’s possible.” Things like that, that resonates. That sticks with you a lot more and you really see that passion and desire from somebody much more than just receiving something in the mail.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
So, Dave, with Tom and then the Contemporary, that’s how you’re doing sort of, I guess, hotel AVs, things of that sort. How did you get from there to that more commercial level stuff with CNN, Disney, ABC, all that kind of stuff? Talk about how you even jumped from one space to another.

Dave Nuckolls:
Okay, yeah. Back in that day, that day of AV … Clem, I know you’re a world class projectionist. We were very excited to work on the Aerostar, the Sony 1020Q. We were really excited when the 1040Q came along. You guys probably may not even be familiar with those, but that was my foray into projection. At that time, Disney was starting to really grow and so we had to take on new things. We were getting into teleprompting. We were getting into multi-camera switched feeds for just, at that time, really just documentation, but the multi-camera notion was kind of new at that point. So, it was fun to be a technician then because we got to try all those things and we got to kind of be on the ground floor.
When we learned that the expansion was just going to take off, that was such an exciting time and that’s where I was really fortunate because Tom promoted me into management. I had just done a tour. Disney does tours all the time, sales and marketing tours, and I had done a 17 City tour. I was the projectionist. I did all of the slides, everything that was needed for that tour, and came back. So, Tom promoted me and not long after that, because these hotels were opening, seem like, one after another, I got promoted again. I was able to bring a good friend of mine down, Mike Compton, so he came down and so we just kind of grew together. It was a lot of fun.compton 2
Eventually I moved over into creative entertainment and creative entertainment was so exciting because that’s where they do all the grand openings and anytime they open a new attraction or they create the tours and that sort of thing. I think that’s, and answer your question, Stephen, that’s I think, when I started really getting the bug to do the bigger events. I helped start a Superbowl halftime show and I was the managing producer that oversaw the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. That is when I really started enjoying the bigger stuff.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s awesome. The halftime show, for real? For the Superbowl?

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, the one in Atlanta. It actually came at a time where I helped to start it. It was right around the turn of the century, actually. I think it was ’98 that the show happened, and that’s when I transitioned to CNN. So, I didn’t actually get to produce that halftime show. I worked on Superbowl since then, but I started the creative and then moved on and I was in Atlanta at CNN, and so it was really, really nice. They gave me a special invite to come and watch the show and so I was able to see the halftime show live and know that I had at least a small part in helping to get started.

Clem Harrod:
Wow.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s great.

Clem Harrod:
Wow. Yeah, just thinking about that transition, man. That’s … We all just kind of just go with the flow and things just kind of … If you’re open to it, things seem to just fall in your lap, but it’s like you have to take those opportunities and you don’t know where it may take you, but be open for it.

Dave Nuckolls: Yeah. No, absolutely. One of my favorite stories, I’ll try to tell the short version, but we were doing another press event and I was responsible for getting the AV packages set up in multiple locations. I was alongside Michael Eisner over at Epcot. He didn’t know me from anybody, but I was getting him kind of situated. He was going to do an interview with Good Morning America.
Then I raced back over to the Yacht and Beach Club. There was going to be a luncheon, and this is when President Bush, the first President Bush, was doing his Cities of Light. He had points of light and Orlando’s going to be the first City of Light, so it was going to be this huge announcement, and the president was in the audience, and Michael Eisner was going to speak, and it was going to be covered by all the media and everything. I was directing the cameras and we were providing a feed to the networks. That was my job that day.
When I got over there about an hour before the luncheon was supposed to happen, Michel was going to finish his interview and come over, someone approached me and said, “Where is Eisner’s interview?” Or I’m sorry, “Where’s his speech?” And I said, “No, he’s doing an interview, but I don’t know anything about a speech. I don’t think he does either.” And they said, “Oh, no, no, no. He’s giving a speech. The president’s in the audience. His remarks, you know, we need to have them.” So, I asked them just briefly what it was that they wanted him to say, took some bullet points, took some notes, and just kind of went in the back hallway there of the Yacht and Beach and I wrote a speech.
When he and his PR person came over with about 15 minutes before the luncheon was to begin, I told him the story and explained what was going on and I said, “Don’t think me too forward in this case, but I just felt you needed to have something to go by, so this is kind of a rough idea of what it is I think that they’d like you to say.” And I’ll never forget, we sat down and he looked at it and he looked over his glasses and he said, “Did you write this?” And I wasn’t really sure what that meant at that moment. Am I going to get fired? I said, “Well, yes sir, I did,” and he said, “Okay. Okay.”
So, he went out and I ran out to direct the cameras and he delivered the speech word for word that I had written, the president of the United States sitting about 10 feet in front of him. For the next eight years, I’m not sure there was a large event or presentation that Michel gave that I wasn’t with him. It really led to some neat opportunities from that point forward just, again, because it was an opportunity. Somebody had to do something. I figured what the heck, let’s give my best shot, and it paid off.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s an incredible story, man.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, it is.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s so fun. That’s great.

Dave Nuckolls:
And the press event that I mentioned earlier, when I came down for the 15th. I worked quite a bit on the 20th. By that point we were really deep into providing all the equipment and, at this point, cameras and everything else for the huge press events. So, the 20th I was very involved in and then the 25th I actually was the managing producer. I kind of went from just, you know, my parents seeing the 15th and coming down just to the tail end of the 15th, and by the time the 25th rolled around I was pretty much in charge of a part of it anyway. Certainly the Disney Animal Kingdom part of it. It was just kind of fun to go through the path with those press events.

Clem Harrod:
Now what I want people to realize, as you’re saying this, I don’t think people might not realize this. You started off at the front desk of a Disney hotel, and then you started traveling around with the chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Company.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, that is true. Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
That’s a big deal, people. That’s a big deal.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s awesome.

Dave Nuckolls:
Well, I have to say, it’s so much luck was involved and just timing because who knew the hotels were just going to open, just spring up out of the ground one after another? The Swan would open, the Dolphin would open, and with each of those new opportunities came, you know, we had to hire people. Well, so more people kind of came onto our team, so it kind of was neat that we were able to get promoted in the process, too. So, some of it just kind of happened because of the activity at Disney. In 12 years at Disney, I was promoted 12 times, so it was just a lot of timing, a lot of luck, and just lot of really great fortune.

Clem Harrod:
So, just talk about leaving Disney. You go from Disney to CNN, right?

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah. Well, what happened, Disney bought ABC. At the time, it was in the news, people weren’t sure that was a great idea. People kind of wondered what the motivation was. Why would they do that? So, I actually got a call from Michael Eisner and he said, “We need to show that this was a really good idea. Let’s just do some things that help to demonstrate that.” So, I was hooked up with my counterpart at ABC, Rick Kaplan. He was head of all the special projects at ABC. The notion was we were going to do some projects together to just help solidify the notion that it was really a good idea. You know, hey, look at it today. It’s an amazing company.
So, one of the things we did is we had an affiliates meeting on the Disney property and Rick and I worked together. We really inserted an awful lot of entertainment. What that is, is all the advertisers for ABC networks come together and just kind of see what the lineup is going to be for the upcoming season. We actually had the actors from the shows on stage and we did lot of entertainment vignettes and a lot of moments. We finished it with Sandi Patty singing a national anthem with all kinds of effects and everything. It was really, really cool, so people thought that was neatb1e1085d3a4bace412a64a4fe39ac9e8
We did Good Morning America from the 20th press event, and that was really cool. It beat the Today Show for the first time in five years, so we were really proud about that. Then we did a special where it was just the 20th anniversary of Walt Disney World and it aired on ABC. It just kind of took you through, I mean, you see these a lot now, but at the time it was kind of new to do them this way, kind of took you through the different properties. We had a lot of celebrities woven in and that sort of thing and that actually was the highest rated prime time special on ABC at that time. I think it’s been beat since then, so that was kind of neat too.
So, anyway, my association with Rick Kaplan, he’s just an amazing … he’s the most decorated journalist living today. He’s got something like 40 Emmy’s and everything.

Clem Harrod: Oh, man.

Dave Nuckolls:
He’s just an amazing, amazing guy. Well, he was being courted by many, many different companies and one of the was CNN. So, CNN asked him to come to be their president, so I got a call from him not long after he started and he said, “Hey,” he goes, “Just be ready.” I said, “Be ready for what?” He said, “Well,” he goes, “We worked so well together,” he goes, “there’s going to be an opportunity here for you somewhere.” He said, “Why don’t you even come up and just kind of look around a little bit?”
So, I did and sure enough it wasn’t long after that I got a call from him and he said, “I want you to head up a new division. It’s a special projects division and I want you to start a new project and a whole new concept in cable news.” This notion of sponsored features where they are news content. It’s journalism, but they’re associated with a sponsor.
Well, now we see them all the time. They’re medical pieces or business pieces or whatever, but Rick came up with that idea. The first project was called Voices of the Millennium. The idea was, my job was to interview recognizable people on various topics as we were approaching the millennium. I would literally drive to work in the morning and think about people that I’ve always wanted to meet and I would have the bookings department book time with them, and I would always try to do it in person if I could.
I would interview people about things like, “Are you worried about Y2K?” You know, “What’s the future for our children? What’s the future of religion?” All these different questions and then we would edit together a lot of different answers and we’d make a piece out of it, throw it on CNN. It would be sponsored and CNN made a ton of money. It was really, really, a fun project. Then I would just kind of went on from there. They obviously found out that that was a pretty good model, so we just did, gosh, hundreds of sponsored features from that point on. I was there for about 13 years.Larry King

Clem Harrod:
Wow. 13 years, just, man.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yep. Yeah, and it was-

Stephen Bowles:
That’s kind of-

Dave Nuckolls:
Go ahead, Stephen, I’m sorry.

Stephen Bowles:
Well, I was just going to say that’s so fun that you basically got to just drive into work, imagine or just think about, “Who would it be fun if I did meet?” Then go hang with them, essentially. Them agreeing to do all that.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, one of my goals was to meet all living presidents or presidents’ wives.

Stephen Bowles:
Oh, wow.

Dave Nuckolls:
I almost did. I was not able to meet the Bushes at that time because Bush, W. Sorry, was going to run for president at that point and they didn’t want to be in the media with anything. They were not consenting to any interviews, but Nancy Regan had seen our pieces and had consented to doing it. We shut down the LA Bureau just for her. I spent the entire day with Nancy Regan. That was so much fun. Ladybird Johnson, every living president or wife, and/or wife, I was able to sit with them and talk with them. The Fords, that was just an amazing day when I spent time with President and Mrs. Ford.
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I had almost 100% acceptance. The only one, you guys’ll get a kick out of this I think, but the only one that said no was Marsha Brady. I wanted to interview Marsha Brady and she didn’t want to do it. Her response was, “Why would anybody care what I think?” I don’t know, maybe she was right, but I did. I tried. She was the only one that said no.

Stephen Bowles:
That is funny because it basically is a little bit of a view inside your head.

Dave Nuckolls:
Exactly, yeah.

Stephen Bowles:
I personally would not have cared to hear what she had to say about it, but apparently you did, so that’s pretty great.

Dave Nuckolls:
Exactly.

Clem Harrod:
Now, all these interviewing skills were supported by your father and what you learned from newspaper and all of that …

Dave Nuckolls:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:

… kind of led to that moment.

 

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, it really did. My dad, he was such a … You know, you can talk about journalism today and how it’s kind of drifted. There’s lots of discussions we can have about that sort of thing. My dad was a pure journalist. He got it. He was so fair and so, you would have no idea, reading his entire newspaper, where he was leaning politically. He would have people be very angry with him because he would publish something that was true. They’d say, “No, Bill, we’re buddies. You can’t print that.” He’s like, “Well, if I don’t print this, then what else am I not going to print?”Dad Nuckolls on your Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame Induction and Award copy

Taking that with me and kind of my Nebraska background, if you will, I have to put a plugin for Nebraska, there was a skillset and just kind of a journalistic, ethical, basis that I kind of took in with me with this. To be honest with you, I think a lot of it is just honesty when you’re interviewing somebody. You know?
I interviewed Alan Alda, who I’ve always kind of considered to be my idol just because he can be very smart, very profound, but very, very funny.

Clem Harrod:

Now, who is he?

Dave Nuckolls:
Alan Alda was on M*A*S*H.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.


Dave Nuckolls:

He was Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H. We’re about to start the interview, and I was in a studio out in LA and I was sitting, I was right next to the camera. We’re about to begin, he goes, “No, Dave, scoot forward.” I said, “Excuse me?” He said, “No, come into the light.” And I said, “Well, okay, sure.” I scoot up, I came up a little bit, and he goes, “I’m going to be talking to you. I’m going to be connecting with you. If I can’t see you, why are we even here? You know?”
It was really interesting, how he was just staring into my eyes the whole time, listening to every word I said and how I said it. I really learned a lot from that, just the authenticity of when you’re going to do, frankly anything, but certainly an interview, it’s just really important to give it your attention. You know? Be present in the moment. I thought that was kind of a neat experience.

Clem Harrod:
That sounds a lot like your ethic, too. Anybody can take something from that, when you’re working on something, be present in the moment. Put your all into it and then that’s how you can succeed. You know? You were able to get to the Olympics because of your work ethic, because of your drive to do the right thing. Talk about the Olympics.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, and that’s a great segue for that because when you do international ceremonies, you are doing a show in someone else’s country. You are making them look good, or bad if you fail, so it’s really important to hone in on what it is that, you know, what is their story? What is it that they want to have communicated?FiveCurrents team(s) for the 2015 European Games and Pan American Games
I worked with a company called Five Currents for about five years and the leader of that, Scott Gibbons, I had brought him in actually to help with the opening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We did a huge press event in Central Park in New York City. He’s just one of the most creative people walking the face of the earth. He’s just unbelievable and it’s no surprise that he’s done more Olympics than anyone. He actually, literally, wrote the book on protocol that is in the offices of the Olympic Committee. He knows more about the Olympics and ceremonies than anybody.

One of the things that he’s done, he’s really big on this, is when you first go into a location to do a ceremony for a country, or for a city, or for whomever, you just have to spend time learning, just spend time listening. We would go to libraries. We would go to museums. We would just talk to everyday folks. We would do all kinds of things to really understand the community in which we were.
Sochi was a tough one. The Russians are a very proud country and they want to think that they can do it all themselves, but they had never done anything like that. They had never done an Olympics on that scale. So, an awful lot of the early days at the Olympics were just gaining trust, just having them see that we really were there to help them. We really were there to make them look good. You know, forget the American, Russian, any politics, all that stuff. That’s not why we were there.
So, it does kind of go back to the ethic that you were mentioning is having them really see, just look in our eyes and see that, no, we really do care what you’re saying. No, we really do want you to look good. I think that, that’s something that Scott always does in his productions, is you really feel the story come through. The emotion really comes through because of that.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, and that’s my favorite part about watching sporting events. I’ve been into sports for 15 seasons, actually longer than that from my time at Florida State. I’m don’t necessarily care about the athlete, but I care about the person. I care about what got them to that point and what allowed them to persevere and to have that drive. Their story. The story is what makes the event so magical. With the World Series just happening, you know, the Cubs. It was their story.
Stephen Bowles: Go Cubbies.

Clem Harrod:
Go Cubbies, Shoflo in the house. But, you know, things like that is what makes it all worthwhile. You know? That’s why … It’s the story. To hear somebody’s success is what makes you want to be successful.

Dave Nuckolls:
Absolutely. Yeah. One of the most recent shows that I did, still with Five Currents, was I was actually the executive producer of the Pan American Games in Toronto in the summer of 2015. That’s what we really, really tried to convey there is just these athletes who’ve committed themselves to a lifetime of sport and all the hard work to get where they are, and that sort of thing. The sport is one thing, but what it took to overcome whatever it is that they had to overcome to get to where they were, that was really, really interesting. We really tried to involve the athletes as much as we can and tell the stories.
When it all comes down, I think, in what we do, large show, small show, whatever it is, it’s about storytelling. You know? There’s a message that you are trying to convey and sometimes you’ve got to stretch it a little bit and get creative and figure out new ways to tell that story, but at the end of the day when you can check that box and say, “They got it.” You know? At Disney, they’re smiling. Whatever it is, whatever your measure is, I think that the true measure is that the story was conveyed.
Clem Harrod: So, what would be your final words to somebody in this industry to help them tell their story and to make it in this industry and be successful with their life, not just this job, but with their life?

Dave Nuckolls:
Oh, boy. That’s a lofty question.

Stephen Bowles:
No big deal.

Dave Nuckolls:
Yeah, exactly. I can think of a couple of things. I got a tip one time by a senior exec at Disney. He said that whenever you travel, go to the magazine store. Go to the store where they sell the magazines and pick something up that you would never in a million years pick up. Pick up something about, I don’t know, biking if you’re not a biker, or business if you just can’t stand all the numbers and everything. While you’re on the airplane, go through that book, or go through that magazine. You’ll be shocked at what you’ll learn and how your interests will expand.
I’ve always done that. I love doing that and learning about new things. Kind of the USA Today approach on everything is just know a little bit about a lot of things. So, I think that, that’s a really important thing for us to do is to realize that stories, you can come at a story from a lot of different angels and there’s a lot that you need to know to be able to appropriately tell stories. You’ve got to do your homework. You’ve got to learn all that you can. You’ve got to talk to people who are living in it in the moment.
And I’ll tell you, another huge thing, just to kind of bring this full circle, is the people that you work with. There are so many stories with the people that you work with. They’ve done different shows and their lives are so rich with experience that it’s really a lot of fun to do, frankly exactly what you guys are doing here, is to have people tell their story and I think we all grow from that.
And the final thing, which, if you know me I actually would probably would tell this part first, and that is with your family. It’s just so, so, so, important to have good family relationships as best you can, and to listen to your family, and to spend time with your family, and to realize that in this crazy business that we’re in you’ve really got to put your family first and realize that, that’s where your priorities have to be.Family

Clem Harrod:
I love it.

Stephen Bowles:
Dude, Dave, that’s awesome, man. I wish, you know, I think we’re going to have to have you back, honestly, because we got to really take any one of those, particularly the Olympics. I think that’s just such an amazing part of the industry that you got this visibility into. That’s the fun thing, I think when I think about the production industry, which is honestly why we’re doing this in the first place. We’re going to get sports producers in here. We’ve already had House of Worship producers. Everyone sort of finds their slice of the general production industry, and for you to move from hotel to CNN and more of a broadcast and then into these just sort of marquee events like the Superbowl and the Olympics. That’s such an amazing view you’ve had of the total industry. Excellent stuff, man. Thank you for joining us.

Dave Nuckolls:
You’re very kind. You’re very flattering. I tell you, it’s just like anything else. When you’re doing it and you’re in the moment, you do have to sometimes take a step back and realize that you’re very fortunate sometimes to find yourself involved with things like that. When I stop and think about it, I am very pleased with how my career has gone, but I tell you, I always am wondering what’s next. It’s fun right now, at the moment. I’m back with Tom and Mike, who I mentioned earlier, doing shows out of Orlando. They’re doing just amazing things and it’s just a fun, fun industry to be a part of, so thank you very much for letting me tell some stories and for letting me be a part of your podcast. It’s good stuff.

Stephen Bowles:
That’s cool. All right, well, we’ve got to wrap. Dave, again, thank you.

Dave Nuckolls:
My pleasure.

Stephen Bowles:
And Clem, brother, man.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, man.

Stephen Bowles:
Awesome job. Always good hanging with you, dude.

Clem Harrod:
Likewise, man. You know, there’s so much chatter going on in the Production Channel. It’s always great to just be a part of it and learn something new, man.

Stephen Bowles:
Well, to everybody out there, we appreciate you joining us. We’ll keep bringing you the best of the industry. Well for this, we’re going to wrap this week. Tune in next week for the Production Channel. Out.


Learn more about Shoflo at https://shoflo.tv
Learn more about clemco.av at https://www.facebook.com/CLEMCO.AV/

Signup

Production Channel Newsletter

More from our blog

See all posts

Signup

Production Channel Newsletter