When we were kids, we all had aspirations of what we wanted to be when we grew up. We were influenced by our friends and family, by movies and television and by our mentors. We all had dreams to do big things, perhaps become famous, or maybe even change the world (for me it was to be a teacher or a singer on the musical stage). For some folks, like Mike Bickerton, that path wasn’t always clear. Mike grew up in Ottawa, Ontario and went on to post-secondary school at The University of Western Ontario in London Ontario, but when he graduated, Mike wasn’t sure how his skill set would add up to become a career, but eventually he found his song, so to speak, working on the staff of Canadian Idol where he started out as a production assistant.
Since his Idol days, Mike has found himself moving from production to production, honing his skills whether it be writing copy, shooting footage or even editing. Mike has worked on a number of reality TV shows including, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Masterchef Canada, Real Housewives of Vancouver, The Bachelor Canada and many more. This allowed Mike to travel all across Canada over the years as well as establish himself in the TV industry. His career path has also led him to work on Asian Idol in Jakarta, Indonesia as well as the Summer Games in London in 2012.
These days, most of Mike’s time is devoted to Amazing Race Canada where he is a Senior Producer. His job includes casting the show, and follow the racers through the various legs of the race, and co-ordinating with the production staff to figure out which stories to tell. And Yes, I said casting! When I talked to Mike about that, his best advice to wanna be racers looking to audition is “Just to be themselves. The most interesting auditions are people who simply tell us why they want to run the race with this particular partner and how winning would change their lives. No Gimmicks, No Tricks”
The show is not scripted and no specific teams are directly asked to audition for the show, I’m assured by Mike, but what makes it compelling is the magic that happens between the producers, casting crew, the location crew and the challenge crew. Now top that off with 11 pairs of racers. On this season of the Amazing Race Canada, the various teams got a chance to race outside of Canada for the first time ever. Their first destination abroad, had teams following clues which led them to China. In this week’s episode, the racers leave Canada for a second time for an trip to Normandy, France. With a location with such strong historical significance for Canadians and people all over the world, this is the beginnings of a formula for emotional, compelling TV.
Like me, Mike likes being creative, and excels at storytelling. Despite, the amount of travelling he has done over the years for work, he has finally decided to call Toronto home, recently buying a condo in Liberty Village. But even with his home base set up, Mike isn’t the type of guy to stay still for very long, when asked where he would like to work next, he tells me that he would love to shoot in India. Perhaps, he’ll see that happen on The Amazing Race Canada, or maybe he’ll land another gig which will lead him there. But of course it would be great to actually be somewhere, while he isn’t working.
For Mike, it took him a long time to turn the things he enjoyed into a skill set for a career, but when he started producing and directing he realized his place was in television. In 10 years, he wants to still be telling stories, whether it be locally or abroad, for television or not. Mike is talkative and fascinated by people and he has found a way to make a paycheque out of it. What more can you ask for?
The Amazing Race Canada airs on CTV on Tuesday nights at 9pm. Catch the racers tonight as they head to Normandy, France. Who are your favourite teams from this season and where would your ultimate Amazing Race destination be?