A photo on a video production set shows two people standing and talking to three people sitting just behind a desk.

Q&A: Behind the scenes of ‘The Look Back’, PBS Wisconsin Education’s new history series

March 26, 2024 Tawny Morrison Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin Education recently launched The Look Back, a new video series that explores artifacts and their context to learn about eras from Wisconsin’s history. Hosted by five historians, the series brings history to life by revealing what artifacts can tell us about the lives of the people connected to them.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the series, PBS Wisconsin Education spoke with education producer Ian Glodich along with host Kacie Lucchini Butcher, who is director of the Center for Campus History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A photo of two actors on a video production set. In the foreground, a cameraperson films the scene.

Director of photography Ryan Hendricks (left) and hosts Sergio González (center) and Taylor Bailey (right) on set.

PBS Wisconsin Education: The Look Back is PBS Wisconsin Education’s first production with a dedicated studio set. Tell us about that experience.

Glodich: I had a lot of fun working on The Look Back set. Our director of photography, Ryan Hendricks, was able to design a set with so much energy that it transported me into the world of history. My favorite part about the set is that the old TV actually works! It was a lot of fun to play with while we were filming. I also liked hiding little curios in the shelves at the back of the set. For some episodes we filmed, we tried to hide an artifact from a different episode into the background of the set design. See if you can find them all!

PBS Wisconsin Education: This is also the first PBS Wisconsin Education video series featuring hosts. Ian, what was it like working with the five historians?

Glodich: I think our hosts were perfect for the role. I loved how they brought their personalities into the videos and played off each other both on and off the set. Check out the bloopers at the end of each episode! They’ve also helped me change my idea of what it means to be a historian, and I find myself thinking like a historian more in my day-to-day life.

A photo of two people facing away from the camera, looking at a large historic building. Just behind them, a camera person films the scene.

Director of photography Ryan Hendricks (left) films Cat Phan (center) and Kacie Lucchini Butcher (right) outside the Dousman Stagecoach Inn in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

PBS Wisconsin Education: Kacie, what was it like working on the project with the PBS Wisconsin Education production crew?

Lucchini Butcher: The crew is great! Working with the team has been such a fun experience. Everyone comes to set prepared, meaning filming days fly by, and everyone is so nice and supportive. Even if we have to do 10 takes or we forget our lines, they’re all still cheering us on. As we’ve all gotten to know each other better, we’re also more comfortable around each other, and we’ve all gotten to be more creative and contribute to different parts of the episode-making process.

PBS Wisconsin Education: Did you have any acting experience prior to working on this project?

Lucchini Butcher: No! When they asked me to be a host, I said “Are you sure? I have absolutely zero acting experience.” I think my love for Wisconsin and my passion for history make up for my lack of formal or experiential training.

Two people in a tent smile out at the camera.

Hosts Nick Hoffman (left) and Sergio González (right) between takes.

PBS Wisconsin Education: How did you prepare to be a host for The Look Back?

Lucchini Butcher: When we first started, I took filming days too seriously and prepared too hard. This may be counterintuitive, but it made the content worse. Thankfully it was all pilot material. I’ve realized that the more fun I have on set, the better the final product turns out. So now I prepare by being silly and goofy! Oh, and caffeine.

PBS Wisconsin Education: Was there anything unexpected you learned about Wisconsin history through this project?

Glodich: I was amazed by the age of the Ho-Chunk canoes found in Lake Mendota. I knew we had First Nations history before Wisconsin was a state, but I didn’t realize it went that far back. It really put things into perspective.

Lucchini Butcher: I was surprised to learn that Wisconsin has a team of marine archeologists! It might be the coolest job ever.

Two people film with cameras just above a tank of water. The tank contains old dugout canoes.

Director of photography Ryan Hendricks (left) and producer Ian Glodich (right) capture footage of preserved dugout canoes.

PBS Wisconsin Education: New episodes are already in the works. What’s next for The Look Back?

Lucchini Butcher: More history and even more fun! I’m excited about the new objects we’ve chosen, and my personal goal is to be even sillier and goofier. And costumes! We’re definitely going to wear more costumes!

Glodich: We’re really hoping to branch out in season two with bigger storylines, a more creative approach to history, more guests and more adventures!

Catch all episodes of The Look Back on the PBS Wisconsin Education website.

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