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Ken Rodgers

April 29, 2011

Film producer Ken Rodgers likes to tell behind the scenes stories. Just mention TV programs such as Inside the NFL; America's Game and the more recent Hard Knocks and you see his handy work as a Senior producer of NFL Films. He's a man that likes to translate ideas into action packed images and Emmy winning programs. Rodgers says his inspiration often comes from the most unusual places. Ken Rodgers is senior producer of NFL films and an EMMY Award winner. He lives and works in New Jersey.

I believe in hallways.

Most people walk up and down them without a second thought. Nearby, life's big issues are waiting to be addressed. Contracts negotiated. Hearts broken. Which is why I prefer the corridors that connect these rooms. Narrow as they may be, hallways provide a chance to breathe. To brainstorm. To analyze where I've been and plot out where I'm going.

In junior high, they were a place of flirtation, away from the disapproving eyes of adults. In my 20's, they were a place to calm my nerves before a big job interview. When I grow old and sick, I expect hospital hallways to serve as a place for family members to gather their courage, just as I did a generation before.

For the last ten years, the main hallways of my life have been at my workplace; NFL Films, the production arm of the National Football League. Here, hallways are where ideas are born and creativity is shared. My fellow filmmakers and I are always looking for the humanity behind the box scores and more often than not we discover new ideas during casual conversations in the hall.

My boss, NFL Films President Steve Sabol, tells a story about a young producer working on a brand new idea back in 1970. These days it's called a "blooper film." It showed all the worst plays imaginable; botched snaps, fumbled balls and players tripping over their own two feet.

As the producer was putting this film together, a man by the name of John Hartman, who was the company janitor, was mopping the hallway. Seeing the footage through the doorway, Hartman spoke up with an idea: why not use classical music as the soundtrack? The result was a brilliant juxtaposition and has helped define the genre of sports follie films ever since.

The idea wasn't proposed by a filmmaker or even a classical music aficionado. In fact, Hartman's first suggestion was a composer whose name he pronounced as "Tit-shi-kofsky." Hartman was just a guy who stumbled upon inspiration in the hallway. Forty years later, we are all trying to follow in his footsteps.

So I recently made myself a promise. When I'm stuck in the throes of creative procrastination, which I admit is quite often, I'll open my office door and head out to the original social network. More likely than not, I'll find whatever it is I'm looking for.

Speaking of which, if you'll excuse me, I believe... it's time for a walk. The hallways are calling.