Have you noticed there seems to have been an explosion of reality tv programs revolving around homesteading &/or living off-grid? I don’t know about you, but we really enjoy these shows, learning many things at the expense of the trials and tribulations of others.
…and it makes us feel less alone in our own trials and tribulations, which only seem to be mounting, but I’ll explain a bit more about that in a moment.
Last fall, we were contacted by a production company casting an upcoming reality-based tv program related to homesteading. We were intrigued – how in the world did we get on their radar? That encounter felt so random and they wanted so much personal information without providing us with enough of the same to make us feel comfortable, we decided to pass on the “opportunity”.
Fast forward to late February. A different production company contacted us looking to cast for another reality-based, homesteading series for TLC/Discovery. This time the encounter felt more personal and legit, so we began the process of applying.
The Series called, “Homestead Rescue” is a home improvement show, profiling several struggling homesteaders who are put in contact with an “expert” who teaches them the skills necessary to create a self-sustaining lifestyle. It’s actually one of our favorite series as we’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks. If one could deal with all the hoops and the pure invasiveness of it all, it really sounded like a great opportunity for our family.
The process of applying was interesting and gave a unique view into “reality” tv. The casting producer who initially contacted us quickly shifted us over to her assistant, a lovely young lady I began affectionately referring to as our “Handler”. Our Handler was very engaging, excited and effusive with praise, often telling us, in her southern twang, we were “perfect” and our story was “compelling”, “just what they were looking for” – seemingly trying to make her enthusiasm contagious. These interactions began to feel forced and slightly manufactured, making me feel rather uncomfortable…and I say this as someone who spent 20 years in Santa Barbara, where people make a living serving up “reality”.
But, I have to admit, the idea of having a homestead expert help us reach our seemingly unreachable goals was more than enough encouragement to continue jumping through their numerous hoops.
Broll & Hoops
We began the laborious task of taking what seemed like a million photographs of our homestead, along with “B-Roll” or “Broll”, which is secondary footage that would be used to highlight the problems we have with our well and our inability to drink the water due the high iron content, the beavers doing their best to destroy our pond and eating the fish in it, the barn destroyed by a fallen tree that unless we can fix, we can’t safeguard our livestock from predators, and about the many predators we’ve encountered from bears, bobcats, raccoons and possums, which may sound small and cute but they are well known for their egg sucking appetites, and various other dilemmas homesteading has presented us with.
Once we began submitting Broll, they asked us to reshoot the videos, directing us to not only speak to the camera but to show more character and enthusiasm “because the audience wants to see a person they can connect with”, and asking us to pan away from our faces to the issue we were speaking about. Our Handler: “Talk to the video like it was your girlfriend and you were telling her about the orange water coming from y’alls faucet…”
Hoops, I tell you… hoops! But ones we were willing to jump through for the opportunity of a lifetime!
We even had a skype interview with one of the supervising casting directors, who seemed to want to capitalize on certain aspects of our needs. He attempted to get us to say we were in over our heads because we were inept city folk and would perish if they didn’t come and help us. While it may be true that we are in over our heads, the majority is due to the fact we have limited finances and limits to our physical capacities because of injuries and illnesses. When we bought our homestead, we knew there would be challenges, they just stacked up differently than anticipated making it much harder than originally expected.
He seemed myopic in his attempted to try and get us to say we were “terrified” of predators and being so far from the life we had previously known. He would rephrase our statements in an attempt to get us to repeat them, “So, if the beavers eat all the fish in your pond, you won’t have any food to get through the winter, right?” Uhm… no, we already explained we hunt, have chickens, want to run a few heads of cattle. Starve? Probably not, but the truth doesn’t make for “compelling” television, now does it? Ha!
They even spoke with our neighbors by skype, trying to get a better understanding of who we were and how “desperate” our plight was.
Our Handler mentioned a few times they needed us to complete our BRoll, photos, applications, etc. “soon” as they were creating a “package” to present to folks at the Discovery Channel. Unfortunately, before this “deadline”, I had to have an emergency appendectomy and was transferred from our tiny country hospital to a larger hospital over an hour away. We informed our Handler that I might be down for a few days. Less than a week later, when I contacted her to let her know we were ready to go, she informed us we had missed the “deadline”. Rather than connect with Mr. Misty while I was recovering from surgery and rather than give us a more concrete “deadline”, they allowed us to miss this “ethereal” deadline, which was a HUGE disappointment to our family.
The fact they found us worth looking at in the first place, is kind of a kick and more exposure to reality TV than I ever expected to see in my lifetime. Mr. Misty and I have spoken at length and have agreed should the opportunity arise again, we’d be game.
And, who knows? Maybe the third time will be the charm! Marty Raney… we’ll be waiting!
Now, what are we going to do about those Beavers and that barn? If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them. Leave them in the comments below.
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