In one form or another, I’ve worked in mass communications my entire life – and 99 percent of that as a print journalist.
Never, I repeat, never, did I have the ambition to work for a single, solitary moment in broadcast journalism, especially television.
At best, I’ve always had a face much better suited to radio.
So there’s a quirky irony that for the next three days Dana and I will work with a film crew from New York to produce an upcoming 30-minute episode of House Hunters International set to air on HGTV this fall.
Here’s the short story of how it happened.
On December 21, 2012, we left Jonesboro, AR bound for Puerto Cayo, Ecuador, in search of an adventure we’d remember a lifetime. We were looking to put down some roots here on a part-time basis that would allow us to pursue a different kind of lifestyle several months out of the year. One where, above all things, we could immerse ourselves in a different culture, broaden our horizons a bit, and live out a life on mission in a place where circumstances don’t exactly hand you a dozen roses each and every day.
We’ve been here almost 100 days now.
But a month or so into our stay, I received an email from a friend whose family was featured on House Hunters International about six months ago. HGTV was looking for new families interested in filming, and was soliciting the help of their alumni.
So she forwarded the information to me, including a casting contact based London and said we should drop her a line if we were interested.
For years, Dana and I had spent time watching the show, living vicariously through the featured couples who pursued crazy dreams in far away places. We didn’t even think twice about giving it a go.
So early that evening I fired off an email to an HHI casting director, told her our situation, background and a few other details, pretty sure I’d never hear another word. Early the next morning my inbox contained a reply that said, “Let’s talk.”
Honestly, that was pretty exciting.
A few days later, we orchestrated a Skype session from our home base in Puerto Cayo to Michelle James in London. We discussed our goals, our interests, our cultural philosophies, etc. Mostly, I’m pretty sure she just wanted to get a good look at us. By the end of the conversation, Michelle said she’d like to move forward with our story, but we’d need to produce our own four-minute “casting video” to give the producers better insight into our personalities.
We told her we’d have it ready in a week.
Did I mention I am a print journalist?
The next day, Dana and I sat down and drafted a rough film script outlining where we’d film ourselves and doing what exactly…
We filmed ourselves from the top of Puerto Cayo’s overlook, where we’d first seen this picturesque fishing village and its beautiful coast. Took shots on the beach riding our moto-scooter. Shopping and relaxing in Puerto Lopez, and several other special locations. Going into the self-made casting video, the producers told us they really wanted us to express our personalities and give them a glimpse of what we are really like.
We’re not shy. So we let it all hang out and went for broke.
Dana downloaded it all to Vimeo and the producers said we’d hear back in a few weeks. I put it all out of mind, and life went on.
Just a few days later I had an inbox email from London.
I’m quite sure they say this to everyone they bring on, but nevertheless, Michelle said the producers loved our story, and they invited us to come on the show.
Dana was cooking breakfast when I looked up from my computer to tell her.
“House Hunters wants us on the show,” I said.
“What?!” … was her reply … and I think the eggs and toast burned at this point.
Dozens of Skype sessions and a plethora of emails later, we have our casting call today and filming begins at sun up tomorrow. Ten to 12 hours a day for the next three days, and a full day of filming back home in Arkansas on April 4.
The show should air in late July or early August.