LOC Ice Yachting (Barr)Ice yachting.

Ultimate Dodgeball.

U.S. Skydiving championships.

I got to know these sports inside and out.

Exoplanets.  Wormholes.  Solar sailing.  Stellar Cartography. I delved into these scientific space age concepts head on.

To effectively produce non-fiction television and other media on subjects I’m unfamiliar with, I always IMMERSE myself into research. Tons of it.  It can be time-consuming, but most often….fun.

For Fox Sports, I helped produce a “Wide World of Sports”-type program, requiring heavy research into little-known sports.  For Ultimate Dodgeball, players bounce and pounce on trampolines.  The largest fresh water lake in the world hosted an ice yachting championship, with one-person sail-powered schooners zipping at 80-plus miles an hour.   The Carolina Turbos, Arizona Arsenal, and other top sky jumpers compete in categories like 4-man canopy formation, where parachutes literally stack on top of one another, peel off, and stack again.  Then there was sanshou, slamball, waterlining, and wushu, just to name a few odd sports.

For Paramount Home Entertainment’s release of a new “Star Trek” Film Collection, I pitched a documentary about ‘real’ outer space using experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.  That meant boning up on many complex scientific concepts and space lingo to illicit easy-to-grasp comments from astrophysicists.  Fascinating, as Spock would say, but challenging.  As a result, I was able to contrast and compare Star Trek’s fictional world with cutting-edge technology.

Immersion into topics can be informative, eye-brow raising, and a kick in the pants.  Chart the history of Disco with a former Studio 54 Dee Jay (for the DVD of Saturday Night Fever).  Get the skinny on robotics at a Boston Robot Convention or U.S.C.’s Robotic Lab.   Uncover the grisly details behind John Hinkley, Jr.’s insanity defense (a Primal Fear DVD bonus feature).

IMMERSION. It’s more than researching a subject. It’s making sure the topic will work ahead of time. It allows a producer to know the subject backwards and forwards in order to achieve the ultimate goal — tell a compelling story.

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