‘American Pickers’: Mike Wolfe Got a Wake-Up Call from Cameraman That Helped Show Succeed

by Amy Myers
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There might be two “i’s” in American Pickers, but Mike Wolfe knows there’s no “i” in team. Back when the show was in its beginning stages, the host and national picker was struggling to create on-screen content that would capture the viewer’s attention. Thankfully, though, he had a cameraman that helped him tell his story in the most entertaining and authentic manner.

But Wolfe’s journey to the big screen wasn’t glamorous. For many years, he worked slowly and methodically to make connections and gain a willing ear. Along the way, he dealt with plenty of rejections. But finally, friend and executive producer Sara Kosak helped him get the attention of Cineflix Production. The company gave the future American Pickers star a cameraman to join him on his picking adventures with former co-star Frank Fritz, and the three embarked on a cross-country journey together.

There was just one problem – the footage was a total mess. So, the cameraman asked for some past tapes from the American Pickers star and added a crucial key component – a simple, 90-second interview with the stars.

“When he calls me and says the picking footage sucks, I give in and send him the old tapes and they send me back a reel, and it looks like everything else I had done for the last four and a half years except it has a one-minute interview of me and Frank that he dropped in the footage,” Wolfe shared with Script.

“I’m like, this is the same shit I’ve been pitching, and he says, ‘It’s different because it shows you and Frank. You’ve been showing everything else. You’re showing the journey, the item. You never show you guys hardly at all. This shows your personalities.’ They showed it to History and at first pop, they wanted ten episodes.”

‘American Pickers’ Star Admits That He ‘Dropped the Ball’

Of course, through hardworking and plenty of mistakes, the American Pickers star’s journey ended in success. Once he had a chance to reflect on the process of creating the show, Wolfe was able to see the error in some of his ways. And for the most part, this revolved around the same critique that he received from the Cineflix cameraman.

“The biggest mistake I made was in the proof of concept,” the American Pickers host admitted. “Can this guy do this? The idea looks great, but can you do it? That’s where I failed. I had tons of footage of picking, but nothing on us, and that’s where I dropped the ball. But I think what helped me was being so naïve to the process, I wasn’t going to let it fail. I didn’t care about anything on the backend of it, I just cared about the show.”

Outsider.com