Behind-the-Scenes on the Show and a Goody Basket
by Jen Hatmaker on August 21st, 2014

Well, let me be the first to say that TV IS INCREDIBLY GLAMOROUS. The fanciness just can hardly be described. What could be better than filming for five solid months to produce 176 minutes of television? (If you think we are so funny and charming on the show, it is only because we managed that skill set .04% of the time and that’s what they put on TV. The cutting room floor includes such gems as, “Where is the coffee?” and “Hand me that level” and “I’m tired of filming today.” RIVETING!)
How about some insider info, yes?
Most things are live but others are kind of not live. When “our realtor Jenny” (also known on the show as “Jen’s painter” in episode 2 and “Jen’s best friend” in the rest of the series) called to say you got the house, I was at home, but without the crew. Apparently these people are allowed time off to sleep and eat. But, it was an important moment in the story so we had “back produce”—a fancy way for them to tell us to act it out.) I didn’t just accidentally have my phone laying on the kitchen counter and, you know, a cameraman in my living room to catch this thrilling, spontaneous moment. I know this is shocking.

In the final reveal shots when you see me looking like I just completed a marathon with my pale face, red eyes, and exhausted hang-dog look, that is because it was 11:30pm and we’d been working like a chain-gang to get that room “good enough” for the shot. Twelve seconds before we started filming the reveal, we were still hanging pictures and blowing construction dust off surfaces.

The faucets? Not attached. Don’t touch them. They would clunk right to the floor. The oven? You could nestle a newborn baby in there for a nap with no concern. We didn’t even have electricity. Hi. The floors? Still sticky from staining them at 3:30am the night before. Half the paint was wet. The art was hung with two-sided tape. The adjacent unfinished room looked like a construction war zone. Despite our attempts to appear “cozy,” we were actually freezing because the house had no heat and it was January. Good times.
This is not actually a home-cooked meal and we are not actually warm.

I believe this pic sums up the functionality of our home during the reno. That is a crowbar, hammer, and stud finder in my silverware tray. I cannot explain this.
(Don’t worry. It all got finished and we’re in love.)
One of our funnier moments involved our neighbors. Pretty much the second we moved into the farmhouse, we started filming and demolishing stuff, so there were 20 cars a day parked at our house for five months with cameras, boom mics, and shady canvas things (what are those called?) everywhere. We filmed OTF’s (“on the fly” interviews) constantly by the street, in the alley, in plain view of the neighbors. After a few weeks, one of our neighbors told Brandon he heard this long, dark-haired girl and some motorcycle guy with tattoos were always talking to a camera, so they all guessed Sandra Bullock and Jesse James were filming some movie at our house.
I mean, the resemblance is clearly uncanny.
I wish we had access to the outtakes. I would guess 94% of all footage included foibles and hijinks. We laughed on camera so often, it is a wonder we ever got anything decent. And when we weren’t laughing, we evidently lost the power of speech. By the end of the day, you could no longer make good words. We were trying to tell the camera what we did or what was happening or what was coming, but we ended up saying, “For the…place in the room…for…we were…what had happened was the wall…and the power saw did a thing…such as.” Our producer Adam would just smile nicely and pretend he did not have a train wreck on his hands. Bless him.
This is our producer sitting on a toilet in our yard speaking into his microphone.
I don't know what to say.

Speaking of Adam, he would tell me about every four weeks that it was time to color my roots. This was a delightful exchange that I looked forward to with relish. Almost as much as I loved the daily instruction on wearing bright colors and not wearing hats. Since my entire wardrobe is black, gray, and brown, I would stand in my closet and despair every single morning. Who wears cheerful red shirts with blown out hair while demolishing an attic? This girl. Please note my snappy colors and fancy hair. I was under duress. (The earrings though? All me. Ain’t nobody gots to tell me to wear big, dangly earrings.)
Other fun facts:
  • Our producers kept the kids out of their rooms so we could surprise them by telling them we installed GoPro cameras everywhere and were watching them. This was both creepy and effective.
  • Our lead cameraman Kevin would regularly come back from LA and say things like, “I had Thanksgiving at Robert Downey Jr.’s house.” He received many blank stares from those of us who, say, just went to their parent’s double-wide at the ranch.
Hi. My name is Kevin. I am very fancy.
  • If you are still looking for the ceramic gray squirrel and fox Adam and I hid in every room reveal, here is your hint: look for the “after shots” when none of us are in the room. (Those pan-from-the-ceiling afters took half a day. Every time. What in the world?? TV is so fast except the opposite of that.)
  • I forgot to pick up my kids from school at least 10 times on film days. It got so bad that the crew set their alarms for me. This is one of the many effects my children will need therapy for. (See also: GoPro’s.)
  • In the living room episode, it took us so long to load in and accessorize the room (the schedule was pretty inflexible and that was our last day for that space), we pulled Ben and Remy OUT OF BED to film it. Adam, not producing his first rodeo, got hot chocolates from Starbucks at 10:30pm to wake everyone up. Please watch Ben in that episode: he looks dead asleep because, you know, he actually was. (Also, apparently now I use the word "space" to describe a room. I am so HGTV and possibly annoying.)
This is approximately the middle of the night.
  • One of our producers worked on “Bret Michaels: Rock of Love.” I can’t even with this. We managed to mention it at least once a day for five months. He also worked on Amazing Race, so redemption and all. But still.

  • Our production company was based out of Minneapolis, and our team moved to Austin for the duration of the show. Our producers were total gamers. After one of their first weekends here, they reported on Monday that they found UT shirts, wandered downtown, joined some random tailgating party, and went to the game. They knew more about Austin in five months than most of us who’ve lived here forever. Nobody crying in their apartment up in here.

  • I’ve mentioned we loved our crew. Over the course of the show, their friends, sisters, cousins, parents, girlfriends, fiancés, dogs, and babies graced the farmhouse. It was so fun. Brandon is officiating one of their weddings. I mean, LOVE.
So great, right? Love these folks. Our producer Nicole flew down for the premier party, and when Brandon tried to introduce her, he got all choked up which is so weird for him (sarcasm font…he is a big sentimental baby…don’t let those tatts fool you).

At the premier. I'm sure I've mentioned this, but she is smart, sassy, and single, gents.

Giveaway time! I will pick one random commenter to win a little gift basket of several items I wore on the show that are near and dear to my heart:

Leave a comment to enter and win all three! And while you’re at it, I have one last blog saved for next week in which I will answer some of your questions about the show. So let me have ‘em: what have you always wanted to know??

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