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[PODCAST EP15] Camera Operators in the Big Leagues with Tucker McFall

Tucker McFall Camera
Tucker McFall Camera
   Author: Leizl Bala

As we exit baseball season and ramp up into basketball season, host Clem Harrod sits down with sports camera operator, Tucker McFall, in this 15th episode of The Production Channel. Tucker lives a gypsy lifestyle of shooting camera at multiple sports venues, and he gives us his view on how he makes it all balance out.

Tucker McFall’s interest in video production started in middle school when he would assist for an older friend’s television projects. Upon entering high school, Tucker was admitted to the TV production class where he learned the basics of producing the news, music videos and small features. He progressed to film school at the University of Miami, hoping to be the next Quentin Tarantino, but he found interest in doing coaches’ videos for college sports. This opened Tucker’s eyes to sports video, and he knew that world would be a part of his professional future.

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After graduation, Tucker started at the UCF Arena then joined various sports organizations until he landed the in-house Orlando Magic position in 2010.  He continues to work with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Tampa Bay Lightning and more. Tucker says you should be versatile in different camera positions, however, you should try to master at least one position. It’s all about helping the video director tell the game’s storyline. Tucker says, “Any camera operator that tells you that they don’t want the tally and they don’t want the replay, they’re lying. We all want every tally and we all want every replay. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong business in my opinion…”

Join Clem Harrod and Tucker McFall as they discuss the importance of having a good support system, watching the cash flow during sports season, and finding good camera op mentors to give you a “Whole Lotta Love” along the way in your career.

 

Full Podcast Transcript

Clem Harrod:
I don’t know if … I know you don’t know this, but I’m pretty excited. Today is my 16th anniversary for starting in sports post-college.

Tucker McFall:
I heard.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Your first Magic game on camera 16 years ago today.

Clem Harrod:
My internship.

Tucker McFall:
Internship.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Awesome.

Clem Harrod:
My internship with the Magic, and it’s pretty cool to be here in this moment and to … For me, even talking with you or speaking with you in this because of your career and how you got started. I’m sitting here with Tucker McFall. Correct?

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Thank you for having me.

Clem Harrod:
Thank you for being a guest-

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
… On the Production Channel.

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
We met I want to say in this building here at the Tropicana Field. Baseball. You were doing in-house.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah, 2009 probably. 2008 or 2009 I would say.

Clem Harrod:
Right. Right, and here we are 2017 at a Rays game. Rays Red Sox series. What brought you to that point? How did you get to that position in in-house camera?

Tucker McFall:
I actually started my post-college professional career at UCF when they opened their new basketball arena. I worked in-house there and one of the guys that I worked with in-house there in ’07 then got a job with the Rays.

Clem Harrod:
Okay. What was his name?

Tucker McFall:
Drew Vincent.

Clem Harrod:
Drew Vincent, okay.

Tucker McFall:
He was the director for the in-house over there at UCF and he was over here as the TD at that time, and they were looking for backup camera people and he recommended me. I came over in ’08 in a limited basis as a backup, and then came on full-time in ’09-

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
… To work the in-house show here.

Clem Harrod:
How many games a season was that?

Tucker McFall:
In ’08 when I started as a backup, I probably got 15 to 20 games, and then when I started full-time in ’09, it was getting all 81 games.

Clem Harrod:
All 81 games. This is right out of college?

Tucker McFall:
This was a couple years post-college.

Clem Harrod:
A couple years post-college.

Tucker McFall:
I graduated from Miami in 2005.

Clem Harrod:
That’s right. You went to the University of Miami.

Tucker McFall:
Yes.

Clem Harrod:
What did you study there?

Tucker McFall:
I studied film at Miami because both in high school and then while I was in college I thought I wanted to be the next Quentin Tarantino. I thought I wanted to be a feature director and that’s what I focused on while I was there, but while I was at Miami, I was also doing coaches video.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
I’m shooting practices with the football team, with the basketball team, with the baseball team, and then shooting some of their games as well while I was there. That’s where I fell in love with doing the sports portion of it while I was spending all my time and money pursuing doing film.

Clem Harrod:
Right because you also played lacrosse.

Tucker McFall:
I did.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, so you had somewhat of a sports background and understanding the camaraderie and the excitement, the environment and how to stay focused on certain tasks [inaudible 00:03:02] in the midst of the chaos, which is a huge part of shooting sports.

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
In the midst of being in this chaotic environment [inaudible 00:03:09] there’s a lot going on, you have a specific task that you’re supposed to focus on and look for that.

Tucker McFall:
Very true, and especially as a fan, and I’m very lucky in what I do that I’ve been a Magic fan since the team was started and I was five years old. I’ve been a Rays fan, I’ve been a Lightning fan, and I’m actually getting to shoot the teams that I’m a fan of.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Sometimes it’s tough when you get in that moment, in that chaos-

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
… Of the game to where you can’t take your hands off the handle and cheer.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
You want to put the handheld down and get the player a high five when they get the big dunk because you’re right there in that moment.

Clem Harrod:
Right, yeah.

Tucker McFall:
You got to remember, you’re there for everyone sitting home watching so that they can enjoy as well. You got to know to tune it back and-

Clem Harrod:
As you’re saying that, I’m thinking of somebody who we shot a lot of games with who didn’t tune it back a lot. Bill [Gilly 00:03:58].

Tucker McFall:
Bill was the most excited person possible. You get that shot from the game camera and Bill would take his hand off the focus to be pumping his fist.

Clem Harrod:
Pumping his fist.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
[inaudible 00:04:07] wanting to high five the players and everything.

Tucker McFall:
He’s smiling and he’s cheering.

Clem Harrod:
Right. He was handheld for Magic, so he is in the middle of the court in the midst of everything, feeling the energy, and he’s-

Tucker McFall:
All excited about it. Then that’s the thing, if you watch his stuff, you would never know that he was cheering at that because he’s rock solid down there.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
If you’re able to do both, by all means do that.

Clem Harrod:
Do it, do it.

Tucker McFall:
Don’t start that way though.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
That would not be good advice to start off.

Clem Harrod:
Now it’s interesting that you said that about being a fan of these sports and you have the opportunity to shoot them now. From my approach, I’m not a sports guy. I’ve never really liked watching sports, I’ve never been somebody who understands a lot of the aspects of it, but I’ve learned it over the years. For me, I feel that’s part of my strength is not to be a fan and I’m looking at it from a different perspective. I’m looking at it from what the commentator is saying and trying to tell that story. I’m thinking about that player, not necessarily as a player, but as a person, and that story of that person, and what got them to this point. That separation happens. When I’m looking to offer somebody a job shadowing opportunity or to have somebody … Plenty of people have asked me, “Hey, can I just pull your cable? Can I be there?” Right?

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
They want to be in the middle of that environment, but they’re thinking about it from a fan’s perspective. I don’t want a fan-

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
… Behind me because if a fan’s behind me, then they’re distracted and then unable to be there for me.

Tucker McFall:
I absolutely agree. I do a little bit of wrestling as well over in Orlando for WWE for their NXT show, and a lot of our cable pullers are students and they’re interns, and there was a time where I had a student come in and he was very excited to be there. He was very excited to be there because he was a fan of the product.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
That actually led to him rather than watching my back, which is a main job of a utility is to protect your camera guy-

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
… He was watching what was going on in the ring. Somebody came out from my blind side on the right-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, yeah.

Tucker McFall:
He was paying attention to what was going on to my left.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
I ended up getting hit because he wasn’t paying attention.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
It was a we don’t want fans in that-

Clem Harrod:
In that role.

Tucker McFall:
… Position. You want someone who’s interested in being there obviously, but not someone who’s interested in the action, but they’re interested in the production-

Clem Harrod:
There you go.

Tucker McFall:
… Of the action.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes. As a handheld camera operator, you’ve got a huge blind side.

Tucker McFall:
Yes.

Clem Harrod:
You’ve got the camera blocking your whole right side.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
You’re supposed to be … I don’t know how you are when shooting handheld, especially the hard camera, they tell you not to always be in the lens.

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
When I was shooting, I would have one eye focused inside the viewfinder, but then the other eye seeing-

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
… Everything going on around me, and that’s that multi-brain-

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
… Level of communication.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah, if you run it normally, you’ve got your right eye in the viewfinder and I run it with my left eye still open too because you want to at least have that left side open to see if somebody’s going to be coming right in front of you, or maybe there’s a bump that happens to the left.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
You want to be able to see at least that part happening, knowing you can’t see anything to your right. You at least want to know what’s going on on one side of you.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned that you’re a fan of all these sports. Are you from the central Florida area?

Tucker McFall:
I was not born in Florida, but moved to Florida when I was three,

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
Then [inaudible 00:07:31] Orlando.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
As the Magic were attempting to get 18 together-

Clem Harrod:
You were … Wow. Right right.

Tucker McFall:
… I was just starting to be old enough to understand and enjoy-

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
… Being at the games with my dad. Being at the games with my older brother. I grew up with these teams and grew up going to the games. Watching the game on TV when they were on the road or couldn’t go to the games, and became a fan as a kid growing up.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
Now I’m there and I’m not paying to go see these teams-

Clem Harrod:
Right, right.

Tucker McFall:
… That I would be. A lot of people-

Clem Harrod:
You’re getting paid-

Tucker McFall:
… Do know that even-

Clem Harrod:
… To go there.

Tucker McFall:
… When I was working for the Magic, I still had season tickets to the Magic because I had had them for so long. Then I just started doling them out, now I’m like, “Wait, I got a big seat upgrade. I’m a lot closer now, and I’m getting paid rather than paying it.”

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
It’s the best-

Clem Harrod:
It’s the best thing ever.

Tucker McFall:
… Situation.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. I’ve mentioned that to people. People are paying thousands of dollars to sit behind me.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Court side.

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
I’m getting paid to be on the court.

Tucker McFall:
Exactly.

Clem Harrod:
It’s cool. To be doing something that we love.

Tucker McFall:
100%.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Have the passion to be there as well.

Clem Harrod:
Yes. Yes.

Tucker McFall:
Know how good of a spot you’re in that you’ve got the best seat in the house-

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
… That whole time.

Clem Harrod:
How did you get into production? You said you wanted to do film, but how did you find that interest in yourself?

Tucker McFall:
I actually started when I was in middle school. One of my best friends’ at the time older brother was taking TV production classes in high school, and he would essentially use me and my friend as production assistants.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
We would carry around the tripods, we would carry around all of their gear. For us, it was the coolest thing because we got to hang out with the cool high school kids.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah, yeah yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Then when we got to high school, TV production was actually a class that was not offered to freshmen, but because that teacher knew us as the assistants of one of her previous students-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
… We got in early as freshmen in that class.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
That’s where I started to get more interested in it doing both the morning news and she would have us do all right, now you’re going to do for this couple of weeks, your [inaudible 00:09:45] a documentary art for this. For this couple of weeks, you’ll do a feature. This you’ll do a music video and all right, on this you’re going to do camera, but on this, you’re going to be audio guy. On this, you’re going to be the editor. You’re learning a little bit and learning what you enjoy to do or learning more importantly in my opinion what you don’t like to do so that you don’t waste your time and [inaudible 00:10:05] Anthony was phenomenal at when you would find something-

Clem Harrod:
At what school?

Tucker McFall:
At Lake Mary High School-

Clem Harrod:
Lake Mary High School.

Tucker McFall:
… In Orlando. She would be great at if you found something you really didn’t like to do, she wouldn’t make you do that anymore.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
She would let you start to hone even at 14, 15 years old, which is awesome. That’s when I started to realize that I either wanted to be on the directing side of it or on the camera side of it, but definitely from video, I-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
… Didn’t understand the intricacies of the audio very well and never had the patience for editing, and have a lot of respect for those editors that can find that perfect frame to get that cut perfectly, but I knew early on that I wanted to be on the video side of it.

Clem Harrod:
Sit in that edit bay.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah. You’re there and you see they’re there with their giant cups of coffee, and giant tub of Advil from staring at the monitor all day long. I knew that’s something I didn’t want to do.

Clem Harrod:
Right. I thought that’s what I wanted to do. Shout out to Rick Price, who-

Tucker McFall:
Who I know as well.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes.

Tucker McFall:
I interviewed with Rick when I started at the Magic.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes. Rick Price was the person that brought me, hired me to do my internship with the Magic, and because of my background with shooting at Florida State in [inaudible 00:11:15] production doing all of that, I too thought that I wanted to be an editor, but I had so much experience and field production that Rick was like, “No, this is where you’re going. This is the path that you’re taking with me,” because he knew that I would be a good asset for him. I completely understand what you were saying about your teacher from Lake Mary that she understood the strengths and the weaknesses of the students, and wanted to make sure to push them in the right direction.

Tucker McFall:
That makes for a great teacher.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yeah. I was having a conversation with our director here for this game with Fox Sports. We’re shooting Fox Sports games, like I mentioned. He was stating it how one of the camera operators didn’t necessarily want to work a a specific camera. Yeah, it could be a boring position. There’s a level of engagement at other positions.

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
We were then having a personality conversation because not everybody is meant to do certain things. I gave him an example, Rick Mendoza, who you know very well from shooting Magic games.

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
He is a great camera one operator.

Tucker McFall:
Fantastic.

Clem Harrod:
Fantastic. Been doing it for yeas and that rhythm of following the ball back and forth up and down the court that can be difficult for some people-

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
… Who don’t have the attention span to just go back and forth.

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely. Know the right times when the crowd’s getting wild, you can breathe out a little bit and then get back into it, and he’s phenomenal at it. You watch around the league and there are guys that you can tell when they’re not a camera one operator doing camera one.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
When you find a niche like that and you can excel at it the way Rick has done for years over at Magic basketball, but it is. It’s a personality thing of he’s got that attention. He always know where the ball’s going to be [inaudible 00:13:04]. He always knows where it is so it’s not going to go out of frame, whichis extremely important oncamera one of basketball, and Rick’s great at it.

Clem Harrod:
Now where do you find yourself in that? Are you more of a camera one operator or would you consider yourself more of a freestyle player, auxiliary cameras?

Tucker McFall:
I try to be … First, I try to be as versatile as possible, and that’s good advice I got very early on is all right, we know you want to do camera. Be able to do every camera in the building, because if you’re able to do that, you become a director’s best friend. I’ve had directors tell me that before that they can get a crew list that maybe has some different background guys on it and they know that they can put those people where they need to be and whatever’s left, I can go there and he knows I’ll do a good job there.

Clem Harrod:

You’re the Ben [inaudible 00:13:55] of camera.

Tucker McFall:
Exactly. The utility camera operator.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:

I try to be able to do every position, but at that same point, you don’t necessarily want to be a jack of all trades master of none because then if somebody says, “All right, I really need a good camera one operator or I really need a good camera two operator for basketball say,” you don’t want somebody to say, “Tucker can do all of them,” because some directors will say, “No, I need this camera two guy.”

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
“I need a camera one guy.” I’ve found myself starting to be in that spot of I want to chase storylines at basketball a camera two or a camera five.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
At baseball, one of the shag cameras. Three or eight or even the low cameras, get to do a little of the storyline. Just from being a fan, I also know the storylines. When I hear the commentators talking about a specific storyline, I either know where they’re going or know where they may go after that-

Clem Harrod:Right.

Tucker McFall:
… Which ends up being an asset to the directors as well if-

Clem Harrod:
Yes, because some camera operators are already getting and they might have a better angle, the storyline, the main person they’re talking about, but as a fan, as somebody who knows the storyline, you can be there for the secondary-
Tucker McFall: Sure.

Clem Harrod:
… To back up the first storyline.

Tucker McFall:
Sometimes you get there and the announcers never get to that secondary storyline or something happens in the game that gets them back to the game rather than the storyline, and you may never hit that secondary line that you’re shooting, but when you do hit it and they get one syllable out of their mouth of this next player, this next story, and you’re already there, and you’re able to get in, the directors and the producers love you for it.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. Now when I was shooting, or when I still shoot, when I get that tally or that replay, that’s an adrenaline boost or that little dopamine-

Tucker McFall:
Sure it is.

Clem Harrod:
How does that feel for you?

Tucker McFall:
Any camera operator that tells you that they don’t want the tally and they don’t want the replay, they’re lying. We all want every tally and we all want every replay. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong business in my opinion, but again, that’s one of those things from a game camera, you’re not going to get the replay.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
All the time, but if you’re somebody who’s chasing storylines, you always want it. It’s one of those things where you’ll say in your head, or at least I do when I had a good shot, I’m like, “Come on, replay red.” I’m saying it in my head. I know that I want it.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes.

Tucker McFall:
Then when I hear it, I’m like, “All right, I got it.” When I hear, “Okay, ready, green,” I’m like, “There’s no way this guy got it.” Then you look and return and you see all right, I guess that guy’s [inaudible 00:16:28] was pretty good too.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes.

Tucker McFall:
We’re very lucky I especially think in this area that our tape guys are great.

Clem Harrod:
Yes they are.

Tucker McFall:
They have eyes on multiple cameras. You’re just shooting your camera.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
They’re watching multiple cameras at a time and they have to, in real time, decipher did the camera guy get the shot? Was it composed well? Was it in focus? Did they have the play the whole way through? As soon as the play’s done, they’re already cued back on it and ready to go from the right angles and the right sequences, and those guys in the tape room are phenomenal.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall: They protect you sometimes when you need it. I had a play last night where I went with a double play that the guy didn’t throw the ball and had a little bit of a whip pan, and they’re great in there. I think Bear was my camera operator last night and-

Clem Harrod:
A tape operator.

Tucker McFall:
… He knew, yeah, my tape operator, and he knew that I went with the swish at the very end. They said, “Ready red” and started to roll
it, and as soon as he stepped on the bag for the first part of the play-

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
… He slowed it down so that they were able to dump out of the replay and you never saw the swish. He saved me-

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
… In that regard, and those guys are phenomenal at being able to find the right things from the right cameras, even if sometimes you feel that it should’ve been your angle when it wasn’t.

Clem Harrod:
Right. I was having a conversation, we have an intern working with us today from Fox Sports, and USF student. I was just telling him some of the nuances about and things to look out for and prepare for. Like I said, this is my 16th anniversary, and I wish that maybe there were people, but I just didn’t have … I don’t recall right now, but having somebody pour in that little bit of nuggets, a little bit of information, preparing me for the next 16 years. I was telling him that we all come together to tell a story. Today is the story of the Red Sox and the Rays playing, and the story of the individual and the coaches and all that, but as a production team, we all come together to help tell that story and we all play a role in that. What you’re just saying reaffirms what I was talking about earlier. The tape guys play a role, and that’s their role to help you be better for the overall production.

Tucker McFall:
Absolutely, and they know what’s the way we saw it live and they know how to give the other areas that tell that story maybe from a game angle you don’t see that the short stop bobbled the ball, but they know that’s part of the story.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
They know that the low cameras had that bobble as the visual storytellers there. They went with the ball into the glove and saw that there was that bobble, and that’s why the throw wasn’t made.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
They’re able to get that cued up so that they can take our capturing of this story and get it out to the viewers.

Clem Harrod:
Now when you were starting with the Magic, where were you living, because I know you were doing Rays and then you were doing Orlando, and you were just all over the place. How did that work out for you? Where were you living?

Tucker McFall:
Painstakingly and I was living everywhere, because I started working for the Rays first, and that first season of working with the Rays, I would alternate home stands from sleeping on one friend’s couch to a pool float, and another friend’s bedroom floor.

Clem Harrod:
Not an air mattress. Not an air mattress.

Tucker McFall:
Not an air mattress, no.

Clem Harrod:
That would’ve been luxury.

Tucker McFall:
No, that was way too high class for me. This was one of those $2 pool floats that if you weight 50 pounds, it keeps you above the water, but anything above that, you’re mostly underwater. That was it.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah. Yeah yeah.

Tucker McFall:
It was essentially I slept on a Ziploc bag on this guy’s floor. Then during basketball season, and it worked, it went in very quick succession that I started full-time with the Rays in ’09, and then started working with the Magic in 2010 when they opened their new arena. I would move back home. Then for baseball season came back over here, got an apartment here, and then when baseball season was done, I moved back to Orlando. I ended up doing seven month leases everywhere I went with overlaps in October and April for the potential playoff months for those two teams.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
For two months out of the year, I was paying two rents. One in Orlando, one in Saint Pete, and would constantly move everything that I own, so I became a minimalist in that all right, I had the basic furniture. I had the basic adornments on the wall and that was it because I knew every seven months I’d be moving, which now I do not do anymore.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
Now I’m in Saint Pete full-time-

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
… For the Rays and the Lightning, and then when I do the Magic games in Orlando, Orlando City soccer, anything like that, drive over for the day and then-

Clem Harrod:
Then come back home.

Tucker McFall:
… Drive back at night.

Clem Harrod:
Okay. Now we’re going to get back on the drive because that’s something that I did a long time as well, but I want to talk about the budget. How do you budget for that type of a lifestyle, the games, the influx of money sometimes, but then the depletion of money? How do you do that?

Tucker McFall:
That’s something that’s tough to start out and it’s still tough. They just four or five days ago released the baseball schedule for next season.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
You can look at it and you say, “All right, April they’ve only got eight home games. All right, May they’ve only got nine home games,” but then you get into August, they’ve got 15 home games. You do have to plan ahead and say, “All right, this month is going to be a little slow, but know that the next month is going to be a little bit better,” or when you have a really good month, you can’t splurge necessarily knowing that you may have a slow month coming up later on. It is tough to know all right, this is what my base payments are. This is what my rent is always going to be. This is what my car payment it. This is what insurance is, all those kind of things, and know this is how many days I have to work or this is how many days of this type of work I have to do to meet the minimum, and then anything after that either goes to savings or goes to any outside entertainment, dinners out, movies.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
That kind of thing.

Clem Harrod:
Living life.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah, exactly.

Clem Harrod:
You still have to live life, even though you’re budgeting-

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
… For the minimal. Did you use Excel or-

Tucker McFall:
I did.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
I have an Excel spreadsheet that shows, and now I think I’ve had four, five years set up that way that shows every day that I’ve worked. It has the date on the left, it has the event, then it has the employer, then it shows if I had any expenses that day, because some days you don’t get lunch provided for you.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
You have to get lunch yourself, or if I bought gas, all right, here’s how much I spent in gas for that so that I can make sure I expense that down for taxes at the end of the year.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Then the last column is the date that that event paid so I can go back and say, “All right, I know this event normally pays in two weeks. Okay, it did pay in two weeks, or this event normally pays in a month and it’s now been two months and I haven’t been paid yet. All right, it’s maybe time to fire off an email and see”-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
… “What happened with that,” but keeping good documentation of everything that you’ve worked or everything that you’re going to work, keeping an updated calendar all the time is extremely important. One, you know what’s coming up for budgeting reasons, but also so you don’t double book yourself.

Clem Harrod:
Right.

Tucker McFall:
I’ve been guilty of before saying, “Yeah, I’m available that day,” and they say, “Okay, great. You’re confirmed.” Then you go to put it in your calendar later and see you’re already on something for that day.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Then have to make that decision of calling somebody back and letting them know that you messed up in double booking and need to get out of it or need to get replaced for it.

Clem Harrod:
When talking about double booking, I think it’s always fun to me when I see some buys pull out … I don’t see it much anymore, but they pull out their notebook calendars and they are writing it down, where …

Tucker McFall:
If you still keep that hard copy of the little black book of production that if you’ve always got that on you, but I try to keep everything updated on my phone, which you’re lucky to have where everything’s now connected-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
… By internet, but those old school guys got their calendar out. Their Hallmark calendar that they got, that they’ve got everything written in there.

Clem Harrod:
Their day planner.

Tucker McFall:
Exactly.

Clem Harrod:
With their pen and everything. Okay, now I said I wanted to go back to the drive.

Tucker McFall:
The drive.

Clem Harrod:
The drive. How many miles is it from your home to Orlando?

Tucker McFall:
From my apartment at Saint Pete to Orlando I think is about 120 miles.

Clem Harrod:
120 miles. You’re billing 240 miles.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Per game. Mine was 192.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
I remember that because every Magic game, I’d write down 192 miles just in the memory bank. What do you do to stay awake on those drives?

Tucker McFall:
I’m not going to say that I text the entire time that I’m driving because I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be legal. Music.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
Good music in the car-

Clem Harrod:
You sing in the car?

Tucker McFall:
… Is always important. Yeah, if I know the words sometimes. I try to sometimes listen to music that I know the lyrics to.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
I want to be able to sing along because that keeps me into it, but then sometimes, change it to something you don’t know just as it’s something a new sound that you’re hearing that can keep you awake, but it’s always either AC on and music on. I tried to do books on tape for spring training a couple years ago when I was really into reading all the Game of Thrones books.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
I was like, “Let me get the book on tape” and then I’m not learning, but enjoying the book while I’m making the drive.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
That did not work for me.

Clem Harrod:
No? Okay.

Tucker McFall:
The guy’s voice was so monotone and droning, and driving sometimes at 4:30, 5:30 in the morning across the state for a spring training game, that was not a good idea.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
I said, “All right, let’s stick to the rock and roll and that’ll [crosstalk 00:26:20].”

Clem Harrod:
Rock and roll. No kidding.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah, yeah. It’s got to be classic rock.

Clem Harrod:
Nice. Which artists? Who you going with?

Tucker McFall:
Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Who, the Stones. Everything my parents raised me on.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
I get-

Clem Harrod:
Favorite song.

Tucker McFall:
Of all time?

Clem Harrod:

Yeah. This week. Just first song pops into your head, go.

Tucker McFall:
“Whole Lotta Love.”

Clem Harrod:
“Whole Lotta Love.”

Tucker McFall:
That’s what I listened to on the way in.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
I was listening to Zeppelin on my phone this morning, and “Whole Lotta Love” was the last song that was on while I was in the parking lot. It’s always, I can’t get out of the car until the song’s ended.

Clem Harrod:
Okay.

Tucker McFall:
If I’m midway through, can’t do it.

Clem Harrod:
Wait, wait.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
Tucker, we got to go.

Tucker McFall:
No.

Clem Harrod:
You pull up to the parking lot, somebody’s waiting for you, and they’re going to walk up with you.

Tucker McFall:
They can keep waiting. They can keep waiting. You don’t cut off Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Clem Harrod:
It’s just something you don’t do.

Tucker McFall:
You don’t do it.

Clem Harrod:
You don’t do it.

Tucker McFall:
No. It’s funny here because we actually, right before we started with this, I was joking on headset and made a musical reference about
Culture Club, and everybody that I worked with here is a little bit older than me. They’re like, “You’re too young to understand some of these musical references,” but I was lucky that my parents got me on the right track with music early on.

Clem Harrod:
There you go.

Tucker McFall:
I stick with that music on the drives as an homage to Don and Judy McFall that raised me on the right kind of music.

Clem Harrod:
Yes, yes.I’m sure they’re a great people. Knowing the person that you-

Tucker McFall:
Phenomenal.

Clem Harrod:
.. Are, and for me, when I was leaving the Magic, making sure that my spot, which I held dear, was going to somebody that I knew would do a good job in it, that says something about you and your parents as well.

Tucker McFall:
Sure.

Clem Harrod:
I’m sure they’re great people. Great people.

Tucker McFall:
I’m very, very lucky to have had them as my parents. I tell them that all the time because some people that weren’t as fortunate, and especially as artists, which is what we are.

Clem Harrod:
Yes.

Tucker McFall:
We are artists, that there’s going to be that struggling artist time. When I graduated film school and-

Clem Harrod:
Man.

Tucker McFall:
… Didn’t have a job right away-

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
… They’re like, “Hey, come home. You’re good. We know that this is what you love to do, we know this is something you’re going to be great at. We’ll support you.”

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Some people are like, “You’re 18?”

Clem Harrod:
Figure it out, go.

Tucker McFall:
“You’re out. You’re out.”

Clem Harrod:
This is the process.

Tucker McFall:
They did not do that. Still, if I’ve got a couple of days of work in Orlando, I know the guest bedroom is open there, I’ll be able to go back over there.

Clem Harrod:
Your bedroom’s not there.

Tucker McFall:
No, but they’re more happy to see my dog, but I get to tag along with Santana on those trips.

Clem Harrod:
Santana.

Tucker McFall:
Yeah.

Clem Harrod:
That’s right, I know that’s your main man.

Tucker McFall:
That’s it.

Clem Harrod:
With having guidance from wonderful parents, and we were talking about things that you just don’t do, what is some guidance that you would give to somebody starting off in the industry?

Tucker McFall:
Definitely having a good support system around you I think is very important, and I’m lucky that I had my parents to be that as well, but I’m also lucky that I had good crews around me. I feel it’s important to embrace the crew that you are a part of. You spend sometimes more times with these people that you work with than you do with your actual family.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
There’s a lot of times that that ends up happening, especially along baseball home stand, you’re here seven to 10 days in a row, and when you leave here at 1 a.m. the way we did the other day-

Clem Harrod:
Fifteen innings.

Tucker McFall:
… You go home and you want to sleep.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Then when you wake up, it’s time to go back to work again.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
It’s not a 9 to 5. Being around a good group of people is important and I was lucky when I worked the in-houses, I worked with a good group of people that I considered a family, but at that same point, I knew I wanted to get to the broadcast level. I’m lucky to be sitting next to you today, and when I started at the Magic, I sat right next to you on the court from the in-house perspective and you offered a lot of good advice at that time of how to frame something better, the points to check your focus. Different things to try that’ll help out your tape guys and that thing, and I embraced that. I asked you for advice, which you were willing to give. I asked Jim [Daly 00:30:35] advice, I asked Bill-

Clem Harrod:
Jim [Daly 00:30:36], yeah. My God.

Tucker McFall:
[Gilly 00:30:36] advice. I was very luck that you guys all were very willing to help out the next generation. I think that’s something that’s important for people coming in to embrace that these … When you start to work, the people that you’re going to be working with that have been there for a long time, they’ve been there for a long time for a reason. Pick their brain and see who’s willing to help you, and they’ll give you tips, and you can’t go in thinking I know everything, because you don’t.

Clem Harrod:
Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
Even out of school, you may have been trained to run camera in school, but you still don’t know everything. You’re going to know the little bits, but they’re going to know the lot of bits that are going to help piece together the worker that you can be one day. If you don’t embrace that, those are the people that are your lifelines at some points. That’s one of the ways I got in is working in-house here and somebody saying, “Hey, maybe you should be doing some broadcast with us” or saying, “I can’t work this job, would you be willing to replace me on it?”

Clem Harrod:

Yeah.

Tucker McFall:
When you’ve got good relationships around you, that is going to help you in more ways than you even know.

Clem Harrod:

I don’t think there’s anything left to say. Thank you for being on this show, Tucker, and thank you for continuing to work hard and leave a good mark on the industry.

Tucker McFall:
You set a good example and I know I told you when you had said that you were not going to be coming back to the Magic and you wanted to make sure that your spot was in good hands, I felt it’s important even for me early on to set that same example. When the next generation is coming up as well, set that same example and make sure that our industry, our shows in particular are in good hands because sometimes you’re only as good as your weakest link, so why not bring everybody else up with you to put on a good show? You set that example for me, it’s important for me to set that example for everybody else as well.

Clem Harrod:
Love it. Tucker McFall. Thanks, buddy.

Tucker McFall:
Thanks, Clem. Thanks for having me.

 


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