Martin Perry, a Brownwood native who is production manager and director of corporate productions for Phillips Productions in Dallas, says is work “is almost like not having a job.”
But that’s because he enjoys what he does and the people with whom he works, not because the days aren’t long or the deadlines demanding.
The company produces, syndicates and distributes the long-running television show, “Texas Country Reporter,” but also has a second, less public part of its operation: producing film and high-definition video for corporate communications, television programs and television commercials.
“We have a great time,” Perry said during a recent visit to Brownwood, at which he spoke to members of the Brownwood Women’s Club. “We get the best of both worlds.”
Perry’s efforts typically find him working more with the corporate clients, but he said he can still “push for the stories we want” on “Texas Country Reporter.” One example was last year when he returned home to help film a segment on Brownwood sportscaster Dallas Huston at a Brownwood Lions football game. Huston was already a radio institution in sports broadcasting here when Perry got his first media job at KBWD-KOXE in 1977 while attending Brownwood High.
“Bob Phillips is a great storyteller and a great TV host, but he’s also a great entrepreneur,” Perry said.
While he’s held the title of production manager with the company for 17 years, Perry said it’s pretty much exactly that — a title.
“You do everything there is to do,” Perry said, noting that his staff numbers about 10. “We fill all the roles, from producer to editor.”
Perry graduated from Abilene Christian University and worked at three Abilene televisions before joining Phillips Productions in 1991.
He said the “Texas Country Reporter” audience is a very devoted group.
“We are grateful,” Perry said. “Although we go around the state, it’s not a travelogue show. Primarily, the TV shows is about people — ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It’s a little bit down home, but that’s OK. Sometimes that can come across as a bit schmaltzy, but it’s stories about the human spirit.”
Many of the ideas for the “Texas Country Reporter” segments come from viewers, Perry said, who send e-mails or letters to the show or through its Web site, www.texascountryreporter.com. Local newspapers also generate ideas. Producers follow up on the ideas, and the question they ask is, “Does this person or group have passion for what they do?”
If so, “a two-person team goes out and spends most of a day doing the story,” Perry said. “Sometimes, we’ll overstay our welcome. We tell them, ‘You may hate us now, but you’ll love us later.’”
Back at the office, the tape is logged and a script is written.
“This is where the storytelling comes into play,” Perry said. “We try to look into their heart and find out why they do what they do.”
The team has a term for what happens then, Perry said. They “Bob it up.”
“We try to use a pacing formula that takes the viewer on a journey,” Perry said. “People have to watch to see the stories we create. That’s part of the success of the show. People tell us so.”
Each story has about 40 man-hours of production in it, Perry said. About 30 shows a year are created.
Despite the volume, Perry said he doesn’t think the show will ever run out of material.
The show airs in 26 Texas markets and reaches about a million people a week. Perry said it’s carried nationally on RFD satellite television network, a service that targets rural America.
Perry said he enjoy working with the Phillips corporate clients — ranging from Fortune 250 companies to community colleges — because they all have a passion for what they do. Among those clients are First Ag Credit, and Perry showed members of the Woman’s Club a video of how a short commercial was made with behind-the-scenes secrets.
“We have small stable of loyal clients, and that makes our job a pleasure,” Perry said. “We have had clients we had to fire because they didn’t have the synergy. We had to tell them, ‘We don’t want to work with you any more.’”