What do Bill Nye, Apolo Anton Ohno, Bristol Palin, and Daniel Martin ’01 have in common? Not much—unless they’re around the
Each week millions of viewers tune in to Dancing With the Stars, the popular TV show that pits celebrities against one another. Partnered with a professional dancer, each star learns the basics of ballroom dancing and competes for audience votes.
Martin helps make the magic happen.
Now DWTS supervising producer, he teases out stories during rehearsals and right through the final show each week. IMDb credits him as senior producer for 121 episodes over the past eight years.
It’s reality television; there’s always a story to tell. Whether someone is struggling with a particular technique or is finally mastering a difficult section, Martin said, “We’re looking to tell the real story.”
Martin has his own story. A theater and dance major, he discovered during junior year abroad in Sydney, Australia, that he loved production. After taking a film class there, he enrolled in a documentary filmmaking class at Colby and found his calling.
His first job? Producing local news at WABI-TV in Bangor—not far from his hometown of Hampden, Maine.
From there it was connections and talent. After meeting a producer from The Real World, Martin was invited to help with Real World: Philadelphia, where worked on reality scripts. He also bounced around the country in production roles.
Eventually the time was right for the Maine native to move to L.A. “I don’t miss scraping snow and ice off my car, that’s for sure,” he said.
At the studio, he said, the production process involves constant collaboration. The pros might determine the dance moves with choreographers, but the lighting, set design, wardrobe, and the story all come from the whole team. “Producing is pretty nebulous,” he said of his work. “Whatever it takes to get the show on air.”
There’s nothing that can replace the energy a live show brings for the dancers, the crew, and the audience, Martin said, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. “That’s the beauty of a live show, but that’s the danger too.”
No matter what happens, he stays positive. Sometimes when things get frustrating, he said, “it’s necessary to take a step back and remember that there are twelve million people out there that want to see the final product.”
For Martin, working in L.A. is a dream come true—and not just because of the weather. “I’ve always loved dancing,” he said. “I love my job.
“When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. It might be just reality TV, but we have a real opportunity to inspire people.”
—Kayla Lewkowicz ’14