I want to tell you a little bit about how cool Wayne Larrivee is.
For those of you who don’t know, Wayne Larrivee has been the radio play-by-play announcer for the Green Bay Packers Radio Network ever since taking over for Jim Irwin in 1999. His famous catch-phrase, “There… is… your… DAGGER,” has become a part of contemporary football legend in Wisconsin. Check out this YouTube video I found chronicling all of Wayne’s “dagger” calls from last season through the Super Bowl:
So when I began production on my documentary Last Day at Lambeau, I felt Wayne would have a wonderful perspective to include in the film. I also thought I would never get him to agree to be in it (had I known how friendly he was going to be, I would’ve liked my chances a bit more).
Needless to say, I got hold of Wayne’s email address, asked him to be in the film and he agreed. We decided to shoot his interview the week prior to Brett Favre’s final game in Wisconsin on October 24, 2010 inside Curly’s Pub, a sports bar atmosphere in the Lambeau Field atrium.
We arrived at Curly’s Pub an hour in advance to set up camera and lights. This was the most nervous I had been for any interview thus far in production. Wayne Larrivee is a celebrity to me! I’ve listened to his radio calls for years both live and on those NFL Films highlight reels! He’s practically the voice of God during Packers games! Well, once we were all set up, the “voice of God” called and left me a voicemail:
I didn’t mind that Wayne was running a little late — my thoughts immediately went to, “Which Packers player is Wayne interviewing before coming to meet us? Is it Aaron Rodgers? Clay Matthews? Donald Driver?” I was geekin’ out pretty intensely at this point.
So for the next twenty minutes or so, I kicked back and watched the replay of the Packers’ recent loss to the Miami Dolphins on the bar television screens. Of course, the highlights were appropriately accompanied by Wayne’s play-by-play audio.
And then, there he was. Wayne Larrivee. He warmly greeted me and the two crew members with me, shook our hands and took a seat at the table we’d chosen. I took my seat at the next table over in order to get out of the camera frame.
It was a wonderful interview and one of the more pleasant and thrilling experiences during the production of the film.
Of course, it couldn’t be that easy.
The next interview we had scheduled that day was Bill Johnson, the co-host of the Packers radio show “Green and Gold Today” on 540 ESPN Milwaukee. This interview was to take place at Bill’s residence in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, just under two hours south of Lambeau Field where we interviewed Wayne. We arrived at Bill’s house and interviewed him for roughly an hour before we had to change data cards on the camera. The way our workflow was set up required us to download all the footage from another card before we could continue the interview with a blank card, if that makes sense. So we started to download the Wayne Larrivee interview.
I played the first clip. Then the second. The third. The fourth. It felt like my heart stopped — there was no audio.
We continued the download so we could finish Bill’s interview (it’s a tribute to Bill’s fascinating comments that he was able to get my mind off of the audio mishap for the rest of his interview).
The next morning I wrote the mortifying email every filmmaker writes from time to time when there is a technical gaffe requiring a reshoot. Luckily, as I’ve said before, Wayne Larrivee is a really cool guy (and he works in the media, so maybe some part of him sympathized with us), and he agreed to film the interview again. Unfortunately, I had to fly back home to Austin, Texas at the end of the week, so the film’s producer agreed to conduct the interview.
One week later, our crew drove up to Green Bay without me for the reshoot. I was in the middle of another job in Austin and monitoring the events via text message. Once they were ready for Wayne, I gave him a quick call. He answered and the conversation went something like this:
ME: “Hi Wayne, it’s Michael. My crew is all set up and ready for you at Curly’s.”
WAYNE: “I thought it was next Thursday. I’m not in Green Bay today.”
I couldn’t believe it. Here I am with possibly the greatest sports radio announcer in the business having agreed to be interviewed in my film and I was totally wasting his time (not to mention that of my crew who had to drive to Green Bay and back for nothing). At this point, a lot of people in Wayne’s position and of his stature would’ve been fed up and told me to forget about doing another shoot. I checked our correspondence later and found out that we had actually agreed on that day for the shoot, but I don’t blame Wayne for getting his days crossed after our screw up complicated things.
But Wayne’s amazing generosity knows no bounds and he agreed to reschedule a third time. This time I double checked the date and time with him and my crew, they filmed the interview, double-tested the audio on set, and we had Wayne’s interview in the can. Ironically, the whole episode really ended up being a blessing in disguise, because we were able to ask Wayne to recall his memories from Favre’s last game at Lambeau Field, something we couldn’t ask the first time we interviewed him because the game hadn’t taken place yet. When you watch the film now, you notice that Wayne’s comments are all over the scene of Favre’s final game.
If you’re reading this, Wayne, I want to thank you again for reshooting with us. As you can see in the finished film, your interview was vital to the way we told our story, and I will forever tell everyone just how cool you are with people who may not always get everything a hundred percent right the first time. Or the second.