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Filming TV pilot made for a wacky week

Even on the best of days our family doesn’t even come close to appearing normal. Norman Rockwell would have never chosen to paint us in his quest to show American family life. But when you add a film crew of six, lots of lights and three high-definition cameras, the things that make our family different are both magnified and recorded.

The filming of my new reality series, “Mark Being Mark!,” started off rather smoothly with just my family and dogs here at our home. We were preparing to go to an animal fundraiser called Woofstock at a local park. We decided we would tie-dye colorful T-shirts for our dogs to wear and whip up some yummy homemade peanut butter flavored doggie treats to take with us. Then, with one single word — Action! — a week full of fun and adventure began.

Things quickly shifted straight into hilarious chaos and, with each day, accelerated at the speed of sound just like my life usually does. But then this is a reality series, after all. In the blink of an eye and recorded through the lens of three cameras, “Mark Being Mark!” took flight. For more than a week, we flew all over Macon and only last Saturday night did we land long enough to so much as even catch our breaths. What a ride we had.

It was always my goal with this series to showcase Macon and all of its beauty. In fact, our historic city is actually one of the many characters featured. In the filming, we tried to utilize as many of our wonderful buildings, museums and parks as possible. We could not have asked for a better backdrop.

Like a trip that had been carefully orchestrated, we darted here and there, never missing a single deadline. Glue guns, craft paper, ribbons, faux cakes, ingredients for all kinds of recipes and fresh flowers were usually spilling from boxes in the back of my car as we rattled down the road from one destination to the other. I was like a kid on Christmas morning as I anticipated the next adventure. There was simply no time worked into the schedule to be tired.

Most of our segments came together without so much as a single hitch but when you are filming in real time, unexpected visitors and unforeseen obstacles can pop up without warning. And pop up, they did. Instead of freaking out, we tackled each one of them and, most of the time, even included them in the series.

Sweltering heat, thunderstorms, uncontrollable animals and rising rivers were just a few of the obstacles that greeted us head on. In just a little more than a week, I was in a boxing match with my son, slid down a wet slide, had my dog lick whipped cream from my face, was bitten by a pig and chased by a mule, made real cakes and fake cakes, and was thrown out of Market City Café. And that was only two of the days.

Right slap dab in the middle of the week, I took to Macon Little Theatre’s stage for my one-man comedy show. There were about 400 people present who could not have been a better audience. Of course, we filmed the entire thing, including a tailgate party a group of ladies enjoyed in the parking lot prior to my show. Unfortunately, I missed it along with a reception that was held prior to the show because I was sequestered backstage filming behind-the-scenes footage. That was probably the hardest part of the week for me because you all know how much I love to attend a party. To be that close and not be there was awful.

During the week, we challenged several of my guests to get out of their comfort zones and try something new that they would otherwise probably never do. These were some of the funniest segments for me. You all know how I love to have a little chuckle at someone else’s expense and even more at my own.

I challenged Brad Evans and Tony Taylor to create a wedding bouquet. I asked Carolyn Crayton and Kirk West to create delicate paper camellias in the ballroom of the Hay House. I invited local radio and newspaper personalities Liz Fabian, Kenny Burgamy and Charles Richardson to join me at Art on the Avenue for an art class complete with a nude model. Personal trainer Dwight Sanders took me through a relentless boot camp regimen at the Wellness Center, which left me totally exhausted and sore for three entire days. Finally, Tina at Ingleside Village Pizza tried to teach me how to throw pizza dough. I think she was the one with the last laugh with that challenge.

As I write this column, my mind is a blur with all the adventures we had filming “Mark Being Mark!” Even though I cannot remember each and every detail, I am quite certain the cameras will. I would like to thank everyone who played a part in my new series. Now we have to get it all edited and packaged to sell. I hope everyone else is as interested in me making a fool of myself as the people watching us film were.

As I recover from the frantic week, I am very sad that the filming is now over. But deep down inside I am sure that I will be filming many more episodes of “Mark Being Mark!” As you know with my crazy life, I will never run out of ideas!


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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208 or fax them to (478) 474-4930 or call (478) 757-6877.