Producer Blog: Behind the Scenes of Ultimate Rock Crawler
Hunting for "CAMNWEN"
Finding Cameron was one of the most exhilarating moments of pre-production. I had lined up another inventor for episode two who fell through at the last minute. None of our other inventors could switch into that slot. So with just days to go before we had to have a script ready, it was all hands on deck to find a new inventor for episode 2.
We had learned our lesson that searching by category turned up better results, so Mark took, “things that fly,” Deborah took “things that float,” and I started looking at swamp buggies on a tip from my Dad in Florida. Swamp Buggy chat rooms (there are many) led me to hydrofoils, which improbably led me to rock crawlers. I saw loads of interesting machines, but nothing truly original. And then I saw a grainy video of the Chain Link 4x4. I let fly with a series of unprintable exclamations, which brought the other producers over to my desk. First Mark, then Deborah, and then Matt Bennett, who is our Executive Producer because he wears a tie.
“That’s our guy,” I said. “But who is he?”
For the next 6 hours, we scoured the web for clues to the name of the man who built this bizarre machine. I did most of my work standing, because I was too worked up to sit. There were precious few videos of the Chain Link, which is good news for a TV producer. Unfortunately there was no indication the inventor’s name either. I found a few clues in the youtube responses, and deduced that the guy must live in Colorado. Matt Bennett walked by and said, “No way. He’s in California. Definitely California.”
Then deep in the thousands of responses to the video, I found one from CAMNWEN that said “Thank you all so much for your feedback.” That had to be our guy.
Matt looked at the screen name CAMNWEN and said, “I’ll bet his name is Cameron and his wife’s name is Wendy.” I told Matt to please go away.
Some more digging turned up the last name Carlson, so I called every Cameron Carlson (and yes, every Wendy Carlson) I could find in Colorado. And then in California. There are more than you might think.
Then another lead paid off, and I got an email response from RHAUF1, the man who posted the video. RHAUF1 agreed to get in touch with Cam for me, because Cam doesn’t use the Internet very much. But with just hours left to fill the episode 2 slot. I had all but given up finding Cameron and maybe Wendy Carlson of Colorado or maybe California. Then my phone rang.
“Hey dude, this is Cameron,” said a voice that sounded like Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I put him on speakerphone.
“Are you the Cameron Carlson who built the Chain Link?”
“Totally, dude,” he replied.
Matt smiled a self-satisfied smile and whispered, “California.”
“Cameron, we work for National Geographic and we’d like to do a television show about you,” I said.
“Gnarly dude!” he said. “I can’t wait to tell my wife, Wendy!”
Matt smiled again and walked away.
That’s why he’s the Executive Producer. It has nothing to do with the tie.