Conway local and AETN producer Mark Wilcken became a three-time Emmy award winner last weekend.
The former University of Central Arkansas instructor received regional Emmys in cultural documentary, writing and editing categories at the 36th annual Mid-America Emmy Awards held Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. for his Arkansas Educational Television Network original documentary “Clean Lines, Open Spaces.”
The 56-minute film focuses on Arkansas’s mid-century modern architecture, a design aesthetic from the mid-20th century he says may go unnoticed by the regional inhabitant.
As the documentary’s narration states, “It is surprising how little we notice.”
The style is a post-war design that focused on using available modern materials such as reinforced concrete, glass and steel, Wilcken described.
Wilcken said he was surrounded by this style of architecture growing up in southern California, where most buildings were constructed in the 50s and 60s.
“I was surrounded by it when I was a kid, and I didn’t like it. I like the more traditional architecture,” he said. “I rediscovered how interesting, how different this architecture is about 10 years ago.”
Wilcken said he spent one year traveling to small and large towns in Arkansas, researching each place’s own design.
“Everyone’s got it,” he said.
How much Arkansas residents may take the constructs, their elements or design into consideration is up for discussion in the documentary.
At the front of the film, the narrator explains: “We walk through the city the way we walk through nature, but we are surrounded by an environment that has been molded to accommodate us. We navigate streets through canyons of artificial stone and look up, dwarfed by the walls that have been built around us.” And later, “...but take little interest in how it looks or how it feels.”
The narrator and creator explain the film is a story about “looking up and noticing the details of the canyon walls.”
Wilcken said architecture influences the way a person feels or interacts with his or her environment, enhancing or taking away from an experience.
“We neglect the fact that we interact with our environment the way we do,” Wilcken said. “Architecture affects our daily lives and that’s something I’ve tried to communicate in this documentary.”
The piece was two years in the making. Wilcken was producer, writer and editor. Jeffrey James, AETN production specialist, was the documentary’s Jib-crane operator and Gabe Mayhan was director of photography.
The film was screened in Little Rock’s film festival and is an official selection in the Hot Springs Film Festival coming in October.
Wilcken said he’ll try to get the film out as much as possible, but as far as the piece’s recognition, he feels three associated Emmy awards prove satisfactory.
He said he gets to display two of the gold awards in his office, and the third will go home with him.
The awards are to him, the “brass ring you’re looking for in television.”
“I’m afraid it has raised my boss’ expectations,” he said.
People will ask what he’s working on next, he said, explaining one is only satisfied with a great production for so long.
To answer that question, he is a little more than a year away from releasing another AETN original documentary, “Champion Trees.”
Champion Trees is a one-hour documentary that explores the largest trees of their species in the state, and how they influence and inspire the people around them.
Of the recent awards, Wilcken said he has realized an important goal.
“I remember when I came to AETN I said I wanted to win an Emmy. It took a bit longer than I though,” he said. “There are a lot of documentary filmmakers.”
Wilcken said he feels an amount of “legitimacy” has been added to his life’s work.
Carole Adornetto, AETN’s director of production, is also listed as a recipient in the cultural documentary category.
Adornetto acted as executive producer of “Clean Lines, Open Spaces.”
The film airs on AETN Plus Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 13 at noon.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)