"I was always working on things as a young kid - like treehouses and stuff like that. I always had an interest in those things," said Borntrager. "My dad was always a do-it yourself man, so I always tinkered as a kid."
Tim's mother remembers his treehouses very well.
"As a young child, Tim went through a treehouse stage. He built multilevel treehouses on all the trees in our yard on which it was possible to build. It was almost embarrassing - looked like shanty town in the trees," said JoAnn Borntrager. "Even his friends got him to help them build treehouses at their homes. He did meet with a bit of disapproval once, when he and his friend, Paul Miller, got into Leo's (Paul's father) supply of wormy chestnut and used it to build a Paul a treehouse."
Borntrager lives in Chicago, while his parents still reside in Harlan. Borntrager's mother is a teacher at Harlan Middle School, and his dad, Milton, is a professor at Southeast Community College.
"When Tim was a child, he was always around me when I was working on do-it-yourself projects. Even then he often had opinions on how something should be done," said Milton Borntrager. "He was not afraid to tackle new territory and is now skilled in many areas. I am not surprised that he has chosen an occupation which is unfamiliar to me. He leads an interesting life."
According to Borntrager, "interesting" sums up his life quite well. He graduated from Harlan High School in 1993, where he was a member of the Harlan Boys Choir (president as a senior) and photo editor of the yearbook staff. Upon graduating high school, Borntrager attended Goshen College in Indiana for two years. He then decided that he wanted to see more of the world, so he purchased a motorcycle and traveled throughout the United States. He also took time to explore Latin America and Southeast Asia. After his traveling stint, Borntrager attended Indiana University and graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts.
"Whatever Tim experienced or thought, it was with his whole heart. He took time off after two years of college at Goshen because he said that it was too expensive to be there if he didn't know what he wanted for a major. He wanted to major in something that he felt passionate about," JoAnn Borntrager said. "When he did go back to Indiana University and majored in art, he was successful because he enjoyed his studies and put all his effort into his projects. He found something about which he felt passionate. I believe he feels the same way about his work in Chicago."
After graduating from Indiana University, Borntrager began working in Chicago. Borntrager describes his working experiences as "serendipity."
"I was working in Chicago for a filming company as a 'grip.' A 'grip' is someone who works on the rigging and the lighting on the set of films. I was also interested in theater, so I volunteered a lot of time on making props for the set design for these films," said Borntrager. "One day this lady came in, who was shooting a documentary. The producer of the show (From Junky to Funky) was going over her footage and noticed me."
"They started asking about me, and they told them that I was creative and a hard worker. She was looking for a carpenter, and I was a carpenter. They wanted someone who had a good camera presence, a creative personality and who could build things. The producer gave me a call and asked me to come in for an interview," Borntrager said. "I went to the interview. I wasn't nervous because I didn't think I had a chance. There were a number of people in the running for the job, so I had a low stress level. They had a lot of odds and ends and wanted to see me build something. Me and Samantha Gleisten (fellow co-host) pulled out a bass drum and some old guitar necks and built a coffee table. Two weeks later they called and said they wanted me."
Borntrager began filming the television show in October of 2006. He said he signed a contract with the network that lasts through two seasons. Though Borntrager never had aspirations of being on television, he said he enjoys his work on the 30-minute show. He said when the two seasons are over, he hopes to sign an extension, but added that one never knows in television.
In addition to "From Junky to Funky," Borntrager operates Midwest Camera Car, a company that creates specialized equipment for trucks, cameras, lights and various filming accessories can be mounted on the vehicle. The truck films action shots.
"The trucks are made for moving shots, so the work is very exciting," said Borntrager. "We have worked on many different sets. We work a lot on the set of "ER" because it is shot here in Chicago. We also work on commercials and stuff like that."
Midwest Camera Car is based in Chicago. Borntrager said he has worked on many successful films, the most recent being "The Breakup." He said he will be working on a major film this summer, but due to a contract agreement, the name of the film had to remain undisclosed.
Due to long work hours, Borntrager said he rarely finds time to return to Harlan to visit. He said that he loves to come back as much as he can and hopes to make time in the future.
To find more information about "From Junky to Funky" visit www.diynetwork.com/diy /shows_dfjf. Also, Borntrager offers more information about Midwest Camera Car at www.midwestcameracars.com.