Friday, April 17, 2009

Life behind-the-scenes

Acting and being on TV may seem glamorous to some, but not to me. Not after the experience I’ve had filming our how-to DVD series and this upcoming $30,000 Style My Room TV show. Don’t get me wrong, it can be fun and exciting but it’s also a lot of work and takes a REALLY long time. And for a person like me who doesn’t like to wait around and wants everything done yesterday, it’s difficult to hurry up and wait.

Here’s what I mean.

We had an on location shoot for our Style My Room Makeover show at American Carpet One a few days ago. Call time was 8 a.m., that’s when the crew needs to show up. It generally takes about an hour-and-a-half to set up the lights—you don’t want shadows on faces and people looking green under commercial fluorescent lights, right? So while that’s happening, it’s time for us to get miked up, do a sound check and have our coffee and donuts.
This is also a good time to look over my lines. There are no cue cards, no teleprompters, so I can’t remember word for word what’s on the script. At the same time, I’m trying to be spontaneous and make the Agenas, our fantastic Style My Room Contest winners, comfortable on camera. At the end of the take, sometimes I can’t remember what I said! That’s why we have an assistant producer who makes sure I’ve covered the important ideas. After all, the show chronicles the Agenas as they learn how to decorate their own home and the show needs to unfold in a way that makes sense so our viewers can learn along with them.
Then we do a run through of the scene so that both cameramen and the lighting guys know how to block the shot. Blocking is where the director lets everyone know where their marks are, including the Agenas, me and the cameramen. We do a couple of dry runs and then it’s action.
WHOOPS! Not so fast! Someone hears a popping sound in someone’s mic, or the lighting isn’t quite right or the battery on that camera just went dead. You get the drift? It all adds up to being a long day.

But you know, this is the nature of the business and that’s partly why major motion pictures can cost over a hundred million dollars.

Fortunately, we have a great crew to work with, starting from the top with our director James Brennan, our two camera guys, the grip and the lighting guys, the sound guy…you’d be amazed at the number of people on board for this shoot. Everybody gets along and has a lot of fun. It’s a family environment and we’re all working toward a common goal—to get the show over with! Just kidding! To turn out a really great show, I mean.
Location shoots like this one at American Carpet One are a little more difficult because we’re mindful that we’re in a place of business. Customers are coming in, phone calls are being made, business is going on as usual. Every distraction adds to the delay, but everyone at American Carpet One was so easy to work with and so accommodating that it wasn’t that bad at all.

Our day ended right on time, just before five o’clock. We filmed two sequences—our flooring and window treatment segments—and a little teaser tip for our website. And by five sharp we had cleaned up and were ready to go. It’s a wrap! …until our next shoot!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What a great Easter!

For many people Easter is a very spiritual time. But for all children, Easter is also a day of bunnies, eggs and chocolate—lots of it! Our kids are no different.

We had our family over yesterday and we wanted to do something special for our girls. Nicki and Megan have been so patient with us with our crazy work schedule. Weekdays, weekends, it’s just work, work, work, especially with the Style My Room Contest in full production mode. But not on Easter!

We promised the girls a fun day and we did not disappoint. We invited Nicki’s friend Charles over and started the morning with decorating Easter eggs. Boy did they have fun! The mess on the newspaper-covered table and floor proved it. They dyed their Easter eggs, painted, colored, and stickered all over them. They had a ball.

We were on a creative roll so we baked some cupcakes and let the kids go to town decorating them. Talk about sweet! We had chocolate frosting and cream cheese frosting, and on top of all that the candy sprinkles! Thankfully, no one got a tummy ache even though they ate as much as they decorated.

The highlight of the day, which they of course pestered us about all morning, was the Easter egg hunt. We secluded the kids in Nicki’s room. The grownups, including Grandma and Papa, hid the plastic eggs near the trampoline, under the bushes, under the hose. Then we unleashed the kids into the yard.

OK, we kind of went nuts. For only three kids, we hid 250 eggs with everything in them from candy to loose change to small toys. And we hid three special golden eggs that each had a $10 bill in it, and an egg with a wind-up chick.

They just had the best time running all over the place! It probably took about 10-15 minutes for them to find all the eggs. There were so many of them and so well-hidden, too. The last to be found were the golden eggs. Nicki, fierce little competitor that she is, found the most. She had a little over 100 eggs in her basket.
The day wound down with them opening their loot, eating and counting as they went. And if that wasn’t enough, we ended with a family game of Wii bowling.

Boy, these holidays can get exhausting! But it sure was fun. Hope you had a happy Easter, too!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The highs and lows of our contest makeover

Let me just start out with the highest of the highs. The Agena family has been an absolute dream to work with, sincerely. They truly deserve this $30,000 living room makeover. They’ve risen to every challenge, they’ve done the homework I’ve asked of them, they’ve been learning and applying what they’re learning, and making time for our schedule, all while working full-time and managing a busy household with four young, active kids.

As for the lows, being overwhelmed pretty much sums it up. For six years I’ve remodeled and fully furnished homes, so I know what it’s like to juggle schedules, act as a general, and keep the job and crew going. But boy, has this one been challenging!

Not only have I been acting as project manager to keep job and crew going, see that things get done on time and all the sponsors are happy, I’ve also been cramming a top-to-bottom living room remodel into seven weeks, mapping out a script, and coordinating the job schedule with a shooting schedule in order to turn this entire makeover into a one-hour TV show!

Aaaarghhh! What a nightmare! One person’s ready to move to the next step, but we can’t, because we haven’t filmed or photographed it yet. And by the time we’re ready, they’re not.

And throughout it all, I’m teaching the Agenas design and d├ęcor lessons to help them achieve their dream space.

But when they’re telling me how much they’re enjoying it and how much they’ve learned already, I know it’s worth it. And in the end, when the show airs on KITV, I know you’ll agree with me.

But until then, I. Am. Stressing!