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December 13, 2010

Working for Extreme Makeover

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By: Brandon King

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I remember sitting in my eighth grade study hall one day talking about a recent episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. My friends and I were talking about how great it would be to work for the show. Fast-forward seven years and I ended up doing that when the crew set up in Moorhead.

Ty Pennington stands with volunteers who are building a house for a disadvantaged family.

Ty Pennington stands with volunteers who are building a house for a disadvantaged family.

ABC needed three full-time production assistants during the week, so an ABC rep called Concordia to find some eager younglings who would fit the bill. I was recommended because of my involvement in the college television scene.

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It’s a cool gig, right? A production assistant for a national television network. People asked me what I would be doing, but ABC didn’t tell. I only knew what I’d be getting paid, that I would need to work nights, and of course, that regal title: production assistant. Oh, how important I would be.

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But soon I realized why they wanted a member of production to work completely through the night. I was to be the “go-to” guy that ABC staff/security turned to if they wanted their garbage cans changed or their Red Bull delivered. As an optimist, though, I conceded and obliged.

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So I spent the first couple days on my knees, doing things like rubbing the dirt out of Ty’s trailer (which must be set to exactly 75 degrees, by the way) and fetching people coffee. But there was a twist; this was a test.

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On the third day, my boss approaches me and says, “You know, Brandon─you’re a good worker, and I’m going to step this up a little.” He leads me to a trailer for producers and says, “You’re going to shoot video for us tonight.” Then he hands me a Sony Z1U and tells me to explore the construction site and capture as many shots of the action as I want. He instructs me that the director will look at the footage tomorrow.

ABC captures the moment when one family learns it will be getting a new home.

At this point I learned that there is some value in getting on the boss’ good side, and that there is some value in being an ABC employee holding a five thousand dollar video camera.

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I never really thought I would ever get asked for an autograph, but there were people who wanted them as I walked by the spectators. There were radio stations that were requesting interviews, and there were volunteers eager to talk about my experience in show business. During some down time, I even set up a date with a nice girl from NDSU─the camera might have helped.

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Overall, though, I focused on doing a good job and got a lot of good shots. But I put my faith in the director, and wondered what he would think. Then that moment came.

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The director, a tall, burly man in his 50s who is always seen wearing cowboy hat, called me to his trailer to say that he loved my work. He told me to expect to see of my shots when the show airs on January 2nd.

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So it’s funny how things can change so quickly. One day, I’m seen as your ordinary college student, and the next, I’m being asked for autographs. One minute, I’m wiping the floor, and the next, I’m shooting video for a large-scale commercial television program.

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Now that the show is over, I’m a college student again, but I wonder if people will be asking for autographs again when my name pops up in the credits.

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