Producer Perspective: Whitewolf's Doug Hajicek

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Bio: Doug Hajicek has had a successful Television career spanning over 25 years. Beyond television, his accomplishments are also significant in the scientific and technological realm. The camera system he built filmed the first giant squid over 54' feet long living in its natural habitat. Hajicek is currently the producer for the hit series MONSTERQUEST, airing on The History Channel, now in its second season. Hajicek resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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1. Where do you find inspiration for a new show idea?

I have always had an eye for the quirky and a passion for how people make a living in extreme places I have always gravitated to hang out with smart people who take everything over the edge. I travel a lot.

2. What research do you do before going into a pitching session?

First I do the following internal research:

1)  I filter the idea with my own criteria
a) I ask myself: "Am I interested in it?" Because I am not pitching anything I don’t love thinking about or doing. I don’t care what is “hot” because some one has to be
first anyhow. Someone made it hot.
b) Is there a "wow" factor on the insider knowledge/culture/facts/stories/science. Can I share this and do I want to share it?
c ) Will this challenge me as a producer?
d) Is it wholesome? Does it inspire viewers on some positive level?

2) Gather Details
a) Then I will read and make lots of calls to potential principle participants and print out supporting docs.
b) I always produce a one sheet that summarizes everything and looks like a 2 sided poster.
c)  I always come up with a good title. It can make or break a project. As an example I came up with the title THE REAL KING KONG and it sold the project on the title alone. It was a project on Giganto Pithicus Blaki, a huge ape that once roamed Asia … I  had pitched before with no results.

3. What advice do you have for upstart producers trying to get their foot in the door?

Never give up. Start somewhere. Make your own opportunity. Produce something, whether for the Internet or local broadcast or cable. Anything that you enjoy.

And find an agent to rep you.

4. What show do you wish you had produced and why?

I am usually a number of years ahead of what is popular and this has drastically hurt my opportunities. As one example: I pitched ICE ROAD TRUCKERS and it was passed on … then it turned out to be a big hit on History Channel just years later.

5. What types of shows do you think are most in demand now?

Shows that give us a dose of another  people, culture or lifestyle and science and how it may impact people. Really this fixed premise has never changed, people are always most interested in people. Just the packaging has changed. There are just for more venues now to share these shows.

6. What types of programs do you wish were in demand now?  (or think should be)

Extreme deep sea exploration. Gee … I wonder what’s down there?

7. What types of projects interest you most and why?

Projects that allow me to be a pioneer. I was the first producer to use infrared tech in a animal documentary (as an example). I was pretty excited but the network was pretty leery on broadcasting such strange green tinted footage … wow has that changed.

I always try to be the first because I like to think of myself as a “Camera Explorer.” If I can peer into a hidden world, smash a dimension … I’m a happy camper. Past projects have allowed me to put cameras in wild bears' dens, into beaver lodges, to the bottom of lake Superior, on deep diving squid, on rats and even wild boars. I have many projects I dream of doing each and every day.

8. How important do you think it is for your show idea to have an online component?

In 2009 … it is vital to develop a culture around your project.

9. Where does most of your budget funding come from, if not from the network?

I always have to or my bank does the bridge the lag in cash flow if doing even a full commissioned series. This cash flow can be a million dollars or more. For co pro projects I have to fund the lag and the other half. Like any Biz, there is risk … but the rewards can be great also.

10. How often do you attend industry conferences and festivals, and which are most important for your business?

One time per year. Now I am too busy working on shows. But these industry shows/conferences were very inspiring early in my career.

They are a great place to find agents and network.