‘Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas’ Premieres March 1 – Read a Q&A With Executive Producer Laurie Gorman

February 27, 2021 Alyssa Beno Leave a Comment

Laurie Gorman. Photo by James Gill.

PBS Wisconsin invites you to take in the sights and sounds of southern Wisconsin’s most beautiful natural places with Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas.

Premiering 7 p.m. Monday, March 1, Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas is a visually stunning trip through the skies and across the landscapes of southern Wisconsin’s forests, prairies, valleys and shorelines.

In advance of its premiere, we spoke with Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures producer Laurie Gorman about creating this stunning celebration of southern Wisconsin’s land, water, flora and fauna.

PBS Wisconsin: What inspired creation of Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas?

Laurie Gorman: We had to shut down our facility due to the pandemic, and that included stopping all field production, which we did back in mid-March of 2020. But then there was a feeling of, what could we do that could be produced in a manner that was safe for everyone involved? We have a long legacy of producing programs that really celebrate the scenic treasures here in Wisconsin, such as Birds of Wisconsin, the aerial programs that we’ve done and Wisconsin’s Rustic Roads. We thought, why don’t we try to do something on Wisconsin’s state parks and state natural areas?

PBS Wisconsin: How did COVID-19 impact the production of this program?

Gorman: We were shooting mid-June through early October. Unlike normal field productions, we didn’t all meet at the station and travel together to go to locations and talk about them on the way. We had to all show up in our separate vehicles, wear masks and shoot in a socially distanced manner. That put an extra layer of challenge on the production for everyone involved, but it was also a great opportunity to be able to get outside, to be able to do your job and to be able to produce something that would have value to our viewers.

PBS Wisconsin: Why did you focus on southern Wisconsin?

Gorman: One of the reasons we wanted to focus on the southern part of the state goes back to the pandemic. We didn’t want anyone on the crew to have to stay in a hotel, so it had to be locations that were within a couple hours of our base in Madison.

PBS Wisconsin: How did you settle on the featured locations?

Gorman: The actual list of the locations we featured was created in conjunction with Thomas Meyer of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who leads the state natural areas program. It was really valuable to have him on board for this to help select which locations would give us the most bang for our buck when it came to the state natural areas. When it came to the state parks, I spoke with each state park manager before I went to their site just to get their insights and an insider’s perspective.

PBS Wisconsin: There is very little narration in this program. Why?

Gorman: We wanted to provide more of an immersive experience. We know everybody’s watching at home, but to be able to visually be in the space without narration – to hear the birds, to hear the buzzing of the insects. I think the sparse narration really provides more of an opportunity for the viewer to feel like they are there.

PBS Wisconsin: What do you hope viewers take away from this program?

Gorman: I hope they can see that you don’t have to travel beyond Wisconsin’s borders to really take in some amazing sights. We have the bluffs along the Mississippi River, we have the crashing waves along Lake Michigan’s shore, I have a new appreciation for fungus – it comes in so many varieties and so many colors! There’s a lot to see if you take the time to look, and there are so many state natural areas and parks across the state that there’s bound to be one nearby. Go out and take a look across Wisconsin because there’s really a lot out there to discover.

Funding for Wisconsin’s Scenic Treasures: Southern Vistas is provided by the Bitzer Family Legacy Fund, in honor of Lloyd and Jo Ann Bitzer, Greg and Carol Griffin, Elizabeth Olson, Colleen and Ron Weyers, Eleanor and Thomas Wildrick Family, the Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, Roger and Lynn Van Vreede, Alliant Energy, the Cherish Wisconsin Outdoors Fund, Jim Slattery, the Focus Fund for Wisconsin Programming, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.

Ferry Bluff. Photo by Emily Julka. (Top photo: Coldwater Canyon. Photo by Laurie Gorman.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *