My TV Debut on Fox's Domino Masters
Ever since appearing on Fox's new hit TV show Domino Masters, everyone's been asking me, “How did it happen?” “How did you get to be on TV?”
Well, it’s finally storytime.
Caveat: this was my experience and in no way reflects other contestants’ experiences.
In January of 2021, I was in my Instagram DMs when I noticed a notification badge that I had never seen before. Turns out Instagram separates your primary DMs aka people you know from the DM request from people you don't know. It was in my DM request that this message came through. I never checked DM requests but on this day I did. Imagine my surprise and skepticism when I see a message from a casting producer asking me if I would be interested in being on a new TV show being produced for Fox.
Internally I was thinking “this is probably a scam, but who knows”, maybe not? I replied back, said I was interested, asking them to schedule a video call with me, fully not expecting the call to happen. You can see that when I sent my email I purposely added a space just in case this was a bot so I wouldn't get spammed.
About a week went by, and no follow-up from our casting producer. I'd chalked it up to a scam and continued on with life. Just as I did that, she replied back saying she would email me to set up a time and date for the call.
In late January we got on a call to discuss my auditioning for the show. I was still kind of surprised that this was a real person and that this seemed to be a real opportunity, but details around the schedule and name of the show were still kind of vague. My guard was still up, but I decided to play along.
She mentioned that the show was going to be about Domino toppling and Rube Goldberg Machine building. Casting was reaching out to engineers because of their building and problem-solving skills. Now, while I had some prior exposure and experience with Rube Goldberg machines, I hadn't ever toppled Dominos. I was kind of concerned that I wouldn't be a good fit for the show. But I pushed through my hesitations and thought to myself, “This is something I can learn with enough time and practice”.
Side Note: You see, I fancy myself a lifelong learner and enjoy gaining new skills that allow me to have new experiences. And if this really was a legit opportunity then I would be able to learn how “the sausage is made” when it comes to TV and film - an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
I agreed to think about it and have a follow-up meeting regarding my decision. I immediately went to YouTube and started researching domino toppling. I learned that there was a whole subculture I was totally unaware of.
On our next call, I remained interested and we moved forward with casting videos. Given this was in the midst of the pandemic everything was done via zoom and zoom recordings. The casting producers asked me to record myself explaining why I would be a good fit for the show and how my background could lend me to being a good contestant. Now again, they reached out to me, but I decided to play along and I submitted my videos and awaited a decision. And apparently, they were still interested in me.
After the casting video phase, we moved into team formations, where the producers rotated us with sets of other contestants, trying to gauge cohesion. Building a unified theme for the team based on similar attributes. As well as develop a team name.
Once teams were locked in, we were made aware that shooting was set for May 2021. The studio was flying us to LA for an indefinite amount of time - until you were knocked off the show or filming was completed, whichever came first. At this point, I had about 2 months to fully prepare for the show.
Around this time I bought some professional dominos (thanks to my teammate Evan) and vowed to practice every night for a couple of hours on my domino-building skills. I watched YouTube videos and practiced replicating the builds in the videos. I bought a book on different types of domino builds and techniques. I went to work, practicing and preparing for the show (learn some domino skills below).
My two goals were (1) not to look stupid on TV aka look like I was capable enough and belonged and (2) not to get knocked out in the first round.
May 12, 2021. The day to fly to LA came much faster than anticipated. I was still a little skeptical of my ability to compete with some world-class domino artists, whom I had just been learning from on YouTube, but I was determined to capitalize on this potentially, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn how TV is made, not just watch it.
I boarded the plane from Sea-Tac to LAX and arrived shortly after to be picked up from the airport, alongside my teammates, Stevens & Evan. It was a pretty surreal experience meeting these guys for the first time after only being introduced via video so far at that point.
The production team took care of us, picking us up in a minivan and taking us directly to the hotel where we were slated to spend the first 10 days in quarantine as per protocol.
I won't bore you with the details of sitting in my hotel room bored out of my mind but I will suggest you watch The Bubble on Netflix.
Once quarantine was over we were able to finally interact with our team and get ready for filming. Our first day on set was nothing short of spectacular. It was another surreal experience being able to see the amazing set that was built and all the cameramen and women who were behind the on-screen magic.
We filmed in a massive airplane hangar that was near an active runway. What made for really cool background scenery in between shots added some challenges while filming due to the fact that whenever a plane took off the noise would interfere with the shoot.
I've got to give a shout-out to the contestant wrangling crew who took good care of us and did their best to make sure we were having a good experience. Lauren & crew were exceptional.
Filming Episode 3, “Time Travel” was a wild experience. I had never built on such a massive platform before and that was really my first build on such a scale and level. It was also our first time meeting the host & judges. Eric, Vernon, Danica, and Steve were class acts.
At the end of the day, I was proud of what we had accomplished but wasn't sure it was going to be enough to send us through to the next round. All the other teams' builds were exceptional, especially the Dominerds who are some legit players in the domino space!
But with some luck and grace from the judges, we advanced to the playoffs!
Check off goals #1 and #2.
While I can't go into extreme detail about everything that happened on set, I can mention that we all were working overtime - cast, crew, and producers - to make the show as great as we could make it. Long hours of building and toppling definitely took a toll on the body and the mind, as you can clearly see on TV haha. But it was an experience I am glad I had got to have.
Eventually, we finished filming and we went home. Then came the long wait until the show was slated to air in 2022. We were unable to disclose our participation in the show, until the show announced it first, as per our contracts. So for the rest of 2021, I just had to sit on this news.
Jan 1st, 2022. There are a couple of different dates floating in the air as to when the show would finally air and what time slot it would be on. But eventually, things solidified and on March 9th, 2022 at 9:00 p.m. right after the Masked Singer, Domino Masters premiered to an audience of over 1.5 million people. And ever since, the ratings have just been climbing up.
Which reminds me, don't forget to tune in Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. to catch the next episode of Domino Masters.