(CNN) — What Morgan Fallon, director, cinematographer and producer of “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown,” misses most about working with Tony is the pressure.
In a recent phone call with CNN Travel, Fallon described Tony’s exceedingly high expectations in awe. Indeed, he may have been smiling on the other end of the phone when he explained the editing process for “Parts Unknown.”
“You could get absolutely gutted in a rough cut,” Fallon said.
In other words, Bourdain didn’t sugarcoat it, and this approach was appreciated by Fallon and other crew members.
The celebrity chef and star producer “was never going to accept anything mediocre,” said Fallon, who was pleased with the workflow. “I felt good when Tony was happy with the show,” he added.
Tony was the kind of leader who challenged people. He had high expectations for the production of his show and cared about a certain level of aesthetic. “It’s why we had a composer” and didn’t just rely on stock music, Fallon said, explaining Bourdain’s tremendous oversight.
You might say that Fallon, who directed “Parts Unknown” episodes Ethiopia, Montana, Oman, West Virginia and Kenya to name a few, was discovered by Tony on the set of The Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” Egypt episode.
Professional and courteous, Bourdain had a stellar work ethic and strived for perfection.
David Scott Holloway
When one of the producers bailed on the trip to Egypt, Fallon was asked to step in, and step in he did in a most physical way — riding across the desert on top of a four-post bed strapped to the top of a car. Oh yeah, and there was a Bedouin named Ahmed up there with him as well.
A self-proclaimed physical shooter always willing to take risks, Fallon says he caught Tony’s eye. Following Egypt’s wrap, Tony sent an email to higher-ups at Zero Point Zero Production and specifically mentioned Morgan’s name, something which Fallon says wasn’t typical.
Bourdain wanted to work with Fallon again, and eventually Fallon found himself pitching places and story ideas. West Virginia, where Fallon spent some of his childhood years, was one such idea he took to Tony after after the 2016 presidential election.
Bourdain went to West Virginia with fresh eyes, hoping to understand the place and the people living there.
“I went to Tony and said we need to do an episode here, and he agreed.”
Fallon says both he and Bourdain were happy with the final resulting episode, which Fallon calls positive and balanced. And West Virginians seemed pleased as well. One fan wrote in to the website Explore Parts Unknown to say that Bourdain “beautifully captured our humanity.” “He showed the people of West Virginia not as stupid, helpless victims of poverty, but as human beings who are working hard and getting by despite decades of being taken advantage of by big business.”
Anthony Bourdain Travels to the uniquely beautiful state of west virginia to experience its culture and customs. Watch Parts Unknown Sundays at 9PM ET/PT on CNN.
Many behind-the-scenes photos from various “Parts Unknown” shoots clearly demonstrate his gracious and attentive demeanor. “It should be noted,” Fallon said, that no matter how exhausted Tony was, no matter how spent from a full day of shooting, “he always gave.”
While he might not have been a celebrity who relished being a celebrity, he handled the attention with grace and instructed his crew to do the same, Fallon explained. And he was nice to everyone he met along the way.
From the people who invited Bourdain and his crew into their homes to the restaurant employees cooking and serving food where he dined with guests, Tony demonstrated a humbleness and demanded that his team of people do the same (or risk termination).
Anthony Bourdain posing with the Budapest crew for a group picture.
Zero Point Zero Production
He had an incredible work ethic, says Fallon, who bristles a bit at the idea of calling him a “celebrity chef.”
I guess he was, he acknowledges, but above all else, he was “one of the best television producers ever.”