While other people grew up wanting to be fireman or doctors, Fresno's Markus Hill knew from a young age he wanted to be part of the entertainment industry.
The only question was which part.
After working in front of the camera on reality TV shows like "Bad Girls Club" and "Tanisha Gets Married," Hill was offered more reality work. But by then he had realized that his passion was working behind the camera, so he decided to concentrate on that part of the industry.
His successful transition includes working as the production coordinator on the made-for-cable movie "The Wrong Woman," scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime. It's the story of a housewife (Danica McKellar) falsely accused of murder.
A production coordinator, according to Hill, works with the producers and director as a liaison to the cast and crew.
"They are the point person for the entire shoot. You are dealing with everything from an actor who has overslept because their alarm didn't go off to dealing with upset neighbors who think we are making too much noise," Hill says. "I just got done working on a horror film that shot in the Pennsylvania woods. An actor called to say he'd missed his flight and he was in a scene that night. I had to call the airlines to see what flight we could get him on."
Working on "The Wrong Woman" was a real trip down memory lane for the Buchanan High School graduate. He was a big TV watcher and this movie gave him the chance to work with McKellar, best known as Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years," and Jaleel White, who played Urkel on "Family Matters."
"Working on this film was a total '90s flashback. Here I am, having a conversation with Winnie Cooper from 'The Wonder Years' and Steve Urkel, and they are trusting me for guidance in their daily routines. It was as if my childhood had come full circle and everything had led up to this," Hill says
Hill also got the chance to work with "Party of Five" star Lacey Chabert on the recent Lifetime movie "Non-Stop."
While growing up in Fresno, Hill appeared in stage productions in junior high and high school along with shows at Roger Rocka's and at The Peoples Church.
Those performance gave him a little understanding of how many hours go into creating a show. It wasn't until he shadowed producers on the films "Lovelace" and "The Bling Ring" that he learned working 16 hours a day was the norm.
Hill closely watched every crew position on the set, particularly the production coordinators. Once he realized they were the ones responsible for every successful film shoot, he knew what he wanted to do.
The decision meant giving up work in front of the camera.
"You might not be able to tell it from talking to me, but I'm extremely shy. And I'm my own biggest critic. Anytime I see myself on camera, I always cringe. You always say what you want to do when you grow up, but it isn't until you are out there that you realize exactly what you want to do," Hill says. "I was never really proud of being on reality shows because they can be edited in so many different ways.
"That's why I didn't tell a lot of people back home I was on the shows or did a lot of publicity. I didn't want to let myself or my family down."
He's proud of the work he's doing now.
Hill's taking a little break from the long work days to visit with family and friends in Fresno. He has such a soft spot for Fresno that one day, when he's the executive producer of a film, he wants to hold a special screening here.
The pursuit of that possibility continues early next year when Hill returns to Los Angeles to work on another Lifetime movie.
Back to the "Abbey"
The fourth season of "Downton Abbey" begins at 9 p.m. Jan. 5 on ValleyPBS. To get the season started, KVPT (Channel 18.1) is holding a "Tea at the Abbey" at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at The Painted Table, 1211 N. Wishon Ave. This high tea event will feature traditional English tea with all the trimmings.
Tickets are $75 and include reserved seats to a sneak preview of the new season following the tea. Period dress is encouraged.
If you just want to see the preview, ValleyPBS will present the early preview of the first episode from the fourth season starting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave. Complimentary tickets to the screening are available at Mercedes Benz of Fresno, 7055 N. Palm Ave., while they last. There is a limit of four tickets per visit.
For more information, call (559) 266-1800 or go to www.valleypbs.org/downton.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.