Five Questions with Chicago Recording Company’s Mark Wilkening

What do Tom Hanks, an NBA legend, and The Flaming Lips have in common? They’re all right here as Chicago Recording Company (CRC) Senior Audio Engineer Mark Wilkening stops by for a thoroughly entertaining round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!

SCREEN: Thanks for stopping by, Mark! So tell us, what is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

MARK: An in-person ADR session with Tom Hanks and The Wachowskis. Working at CRC for 18 years I’ve seen the full range of how celebrities can treat the down-the-line crew. Tom pretty much stands alone for how well he treated everyone around the session. I was an assistant at the time, but you wouldn’t know it from him. He remembered my name and made small talk with everyone in the room. He asked others’ opinions and listened. So later when I routinely encountered the other end of that — some day player on a terrible TV show that’s about to be cancelled acting like an entitled toddler — it didn’t rattle me. If Tom Hanks doesn’t act like this, why should you?

SCREEN: What are you looking forward to in 2024?

MARK: The election! No, not that one. For a new PTO president at my daughters’ school. My wife has been running it for 7 years. She needs a break!

SCREEN: Your go-to karaoke song?

MARK: “She Don’t Use Jelly” by The Flaming Lips. My wife is a karaoke hustler so it was a bit intimidating doing karaoke with her when we first started dating. This song is great because it’s fun and you don’t have to be a great singer to get through it. I love the band and the album was mastered at CRC.

All right, Mark, sing it loud and proud!

SCREEN: Your greatest athletic achievement?

MARK: Beating my Dad at HORSE in 5th grade. I’ve never wanted something as badly in sports. It took many, many games and he never let me win. I had to earn it.

SCREEN: If you could be a member of any musical group in history, what would it be?

MARK: The Walkmen. They consistently put out great records, play exclusively vintage instruments, dress better than everyone else, are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and have remained true to who they are the whole time. They probably wish they had gotten bigger for financial reasons, but I think it’s kept them fairly grounded. When they broke up in 2013, my friends and I threw a “Walkmen grieving” party once a year until they reunited last year and we went to multiple nights of their shows at Metro. I’d probably settle for simply being on stage during a performance of “Thinking Of A Dream I Had” or “In The New Year”. Enough energy to last a lifetime.

Let’s sit back and enjoy this live performance with Mark for a minute, friends…


SCREEN: What’s that TV show you’re a little embarrassed to admit you love to watch?

MARK: All the shows my kids have watched that I’ve gotten sucked into over the years. Gravity Falls, Bluey, Tumbleleaf, Hilda.

Ok Mark, here’s a full episode of Gravity Falls for ya!

SCREEN: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Growing up I went to Doug Collins basketball camp every summer. One year, Joe Dumars came and spoke at the camp. He told us that when you throw a bad pass, take responsibility and say “my bad”, but also, when someone throws a bad pass to you, you do the same and tell them you should’ve had it. It creates an environment where no one is blaming their teammates and everyone is working towards the goal. An NBA player saying that to kids was very powerful and always stuck with me.

Thanks for playing, Mark! For more from Mark and the fine folks at Chicago Recording Company, click right here.

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