EP07 Seizing Opportunities in Live Events with Dave Nuckolls
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.”
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 Anniversary 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 Kaplan 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.