Our good Mulloverthis asked for details concerning my statement that you should not let a home makeover show into your house. Currently I am the props crew at a regional theatre, but at one point I worked on six episodes of a barely known home decorating show which shall remain nameless. Here are a few reasons to do your home projects on your own.
T.V. is Fake.
This is a hard thing for people to comprehend. Even really smart people. Oh, you may know that actors aren’t really the people they play, but you probably don’t realize that pretty much EVERYTHING else is fake too. The script calls for chocolate and you’re sitting less than 20 feet from the stage so it wouldn’t even occur to you that it’s not chocolate. It’s not, it’s a grape (chocolate is messy). On a home make-over show, they only show you what they want you to see. It may look like we emptied out someone’s garage and reorganized it with the use of (novel idea!) shelves, but in fact all the stuff we couldn’t fit on the shelves is sitting in the driveway outside the shot. And when the producers have all the shots they need, they WILL leave all that crap on your driveway. Well, the crew will help you put it back in the garage, but it won’t look like what runs on the episode.
This sounds like the people working on the show are heartless. That is not the case. As individuals we are trying to do the right thing by the homeowners. But as a group we are there to make a T.V. show and we have to work towards the goals of the show and abide by the decisions of the producers.
Also, people who write in to be on home make-over shows partially don’t know how to do home projects themselves, and partially don’t understand why their houses don’t look nice. Hmmm, I wonder if it is all their stuff. Their piles and piles of stuff. Even the most talented television team cannot stuff 10 pounds of plastic crap into a 5 pound plastic bag and have it look good. They whittle it down to 3 pounds of plastic crap for the camera and show you what it could look like.
What are some other fake things we did?
1. We moved the furniture around in a living room to show how you don’t have to buy everything new. Meanwhile, the furniture we didn’t like is sitting in the kitchen. It’s your problem fitting it all back in the living room later.
2. We had a contract with a big box store and a cleaning products company so we filmed the homeowners happily using the disposable products to clean. Except the products don’t work worth crap so beforehand the crew had used the tried and true method of a bucket/sponge/soap/water to get it actually clean. I had to do that on the sly with a look-out standing guard while the cleaning product rep was in another part of the house as we weren’t supposed to be seen using anything other than approved products. Yes, that was my glorious show biz job – furtively cleaning a stranger’s floorboards.
3. I personally took a bunch of cheap black-and-silver end tables from K-mart and combined them to make one large very cool looking L-shaped table for an enclosed back porch. But the caps and legs didn’t quite fit that way so I hot-glued them together and stuck them in the shot just beforehand. With 5 kids in the house I’m guessing the table made it maybe two days before falling apart. But by then I was on the other side of Florida.
It is possible this would not happen with a more well-known, bigger budget show. Or… it just happens on a larger scale. That’s what I’ve learned crawling up the ranks of the theatre world. Same sh*t, bigger budget.
Moving on, lest this segue into a rant on hoarders.
They Can Talk You In To Anything
We will take over your house. There will be a minimum of 10 people, including camera people, lighting, carpenters, production assistants and producers/directors basically living at your house for three or more days. We will put that sticky carpet protector in all the doorways to show you we care about your floor, but then will drill holes in the ceiling to hang lights. A catering company will take over one side of the house. Everyone will hope it doesn’t rain.
You will have seen stereotypes of film and television people (in film and television) and will be pleasantly surprised at how normal and nice everyone is (of course we are; you don’t get a gig like this if you can’t act nice and look normal enough to not scare the locals.) The producer will spend time gaining your trust and learning about you (some of which is genuine; it doesn’t do the show any good if the home-owners don’t look happy at the end). You will be lulled into trusting us and trying your best to seem calm in the face of unusual stress. Then there will be something you’re not sure about, but the producer take you aside and talk you into it. Now, it may be that we are right and you should take a chance. After all, we do this all the time and you did ask for our help. But it may also be that you should follow your instincts and NOT PAINT OVER THE WOODWORK. For example.
The thing is the show has to come up with a new trick for every episode. So while whatever we did in episode 3 might be a really awesome solution for you, it’s now episode 12 and we can’t repeat. This problem is compounded by the glut of home makeover shows, all competing to have the niftiest new idea. One might be inclined to think the best talent in this genre has already come and gone.
My good Mulloverthis, if you think you can draw a firm line then more power to you. My firm line would be not letting anyone in my house.
You Have To Pay Taxes On It
Ooooh, didn’t know that did you? The money the T.V. show spends on you is carefully accounted and the receipts are turned over to you and then it is your responsibility to pay taxes on it. That may not be a big deal if the episode has a $1500 budget, but what if it’s $5000? Or $25,000? Are you prepared to pay those taxes? Some of the shows have it worked out to give you money to cover the cost of taxes (more likely if it is a charity situation, like you have a disabled child).
Yes, you are essentially paying taxes on materials only and are getting free labor. But is that worth the trade-off of labor that doesn’t actually work for you? Just be very careful you understand ahead of time what the contract says and what the tax law is where you live.
And, depending on where you live, you may have to pay increased property taxes on your improved home. Google search “extreme home makeover family loses house” for many sad and infuriating examples.
You just don’t get something for nothing. T.V. will not save you or give you an amazing life like the ones you see on T.V.
Well, that’s my two cents on the topic. For the record, I really enjoyed the show I worked on and would jump at the chance to do it again. Better to be an employee than a recipient of such services.