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Saturday, October 24, 2009

More About My Life as a TV Designer - Upcoming Episodes

Many of you have emailed and asked me to please post more about my tv work on the blog. I was talking to a friend about Carter Can tonight and she said she saw another of my episodes this morning, and also informed me that you can watch several of the episodes online. So, I decided to do a little research and see what I can find. I had no idea there was so much on the HGTV website from the first and second seasons. Seems like eons ago. I normally don't write about this because it's a time gone past, but since I've gotten over 40 emails asking for more info, I thought that while some reruns were being aired, and my friend told me where to find the other stuff, this would be the perfect time to post about some of my work.

Here's a long list of information:
Upcoming Episodes:
(one of my favorite)

(Not my style at all, so this one was a stretch for me.
I do love the way the way the linen tower turned out though.)

(It's really not as gaudy as this picture makes it look)

(My almost favorite makeover. I say that because it's a toss up between this one and our first episode for my favorite.)

(These are projects from the show that I designed.)
Specific Categories and Projects:
Dark Basement to Bright Family Room Video

Rolling Tables

Art Tables (love these!)
Coffee Table (love the plexiglass art display on this one)
Dog Crate Cover

Upper Cabinets
Vegetable Stand
Bench Chest
Copper Doors
Linen Tower
Pantry Drawer
Shower Tiling

Composite Decking
(the second one)

TV Cabinets, Shelves, and Mantles:
Ply Boo Entertainment Center

Walls, Floors, and Surfaces:
How to Resurface Countertops
Concrete Hearth

I was the designer for Season 1 and a few episodes in Season 2, listed here.

Now, to answer some of the most popular questions I get:
The most popular questions I get are personal ones about Carter, but contracts prevents me from spilling any beans about him, so we'll move on to the next set of questions that are actually about the show itself.

What did you actually do as a tv designer?
I was responsible for working directly with the construction crew to plan the entire makeover for each home. We went out to each potential home, talked to the homeowners about what they wanted for their makeover, viewed the home in depth to see if it was a good candidate for the show, and if it was, we took before pictures and the construction team measured the areas of the home that would be involved while I interviewed the homeowners one on one.

We would discuss the job as a team and decide if it was something we could do in the time limit alloted, and if we felt we could get materials in time for filming. If the project was a go, we then submitted a report to the directors for their approval. Once the homeowners were approved, the casting department called to let them know. After that, their project was scheduled for filming and the planning began.

As a designer, I developed a plan for each project, submitted my plan to the construction team, and they had final yay or nay on the projects. Since they were absolute superstars, they rarely turned anything down, but their were a few. All projects had to fit within filming times for the home, which was almost always 2-3 days.
What you don't see is all of the extra hands working behind the scenes in addition to the ones on camera, so we had the ability to plan work for more than just the three of us that were on the show.

Once all of the planning was finalized, it was time to make shopping lists and wish lists. Our wish lists were things we wanted from vendors. Those lists usually went to the show assistants for them to call and ask for donations. The shopping lists were our responsibility. Shopping took up more time than anything! It was common to be shopping for 2-4 projects at a time, which meant it was easy to get confused!

When it got close to show time, we had a meeting with the whole show team and discussed what would take place on each day as far as filming. The director gave everyone the show rundown, with the hour by hour filming plan, who would be doing each project, and what the homeowners would be involved in on camera.

The day of the shoot, I made sure every project was organized, and all of the materials required for each of them was in place for whichever crew would be working on them. The main construction crew met with Carter to brief him on the scope of the makeover, and the details of each project, and then filming started. For 2-3 days, it was12-15 hour, hard labor days for everyone.

When filming was done, we had hours of clean up, and then it was on to the next job the next morning.

How do you select the homes you do?
Homeowners submit themselves to the production company's casting department. The casting department calls the ones they are interested in and interview the homeowners on the phone. If they choose to proceed with them, they go visit the house and take a short video of the people.
When the crew approves a homeowner (explained above), the casting department then sends a write up on the job and/or a short video to the development director at HGTV assigned to the show for approval.

How much is the homeowner involved in the design plan?
I always did in depth interviews with the homeowners so that I'd have a clear picture of what they wanted for their home. It was important to our team to give the homeowner a makeover that fit their lifestlye, and especially one that they wouldn't have to change when we left the house. After they were approved, I would again discuss what we had planned for their home. Most were okay with whatever we wanted to do, and then others said they were okay with it, but when filming began, they suddenly wanted to change everything after all of the planning and shopping had been completed for the projects they had previously approved. When that happened, they got the treat of a private conversation with the director. There were two homeowners that we approved, and then in the planning process, they'd get demanding, and keep trying to add things or change things to the point of messing with our filming schedules. In those two instances, we decided to drop the makeover all together.

Then there was the one that kept poo-pooing everything we did as we were filming the show. It had everyone so upset that we decided not to give them any of the really good big dollar things for their makeover. We did the bare minimum that we could get away with for tv. That episode did make it to tv, but if you have  keen eye, I bet you could figure out which job it was. It was the only one I wasn't proud of, and didn't even take pictures of when it was finished.

You'll notice in my episodes that we never did anything bizarre to a homeowners house. I just couldn't bring myself to do something drastic that didn't make sense in another person's home. All of our homeowners were happy with their makeovers because we really did try to give them what they asked for.
Whew! That was a lot of typing. I hope I didn't bore you with all of that detail. Next time I'll try to keep it shorter, I swear.

1 comment:

  1. I found that very interesting. I always wondered how those shows were set up. I am glad to hear that you took such care in giving the home owners something that they really wanted.

    I know from experience that most people just can't visualize what the end result will look like. So I sometimes wondered if all those OMG remarks were real...


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