Home & Garden TV Network Films Cape Charles Episode
Home & Garden Network (HGTV on cable channels) filmed an episode in Cape Charles last week for a new series to be aired in January, and Marlene Cree of Blue Heron Realty was there to record every detail — which she has graciously provided for Wave readers.
By MARLENE CREE
Blue Heron Realty
October 2, 2013
It’s been a pretty exciting last few days for Blue Heron Realty Co. with the Home & Garden network, HGTV, filming here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for a new series entitled “Beachfront Bargain Hunt“ which will air in January 2014!
I say exciting for us because in late August, after seeing some of our great beach listings on our website, HGTV called Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office where Eva Noonan was the Duty Agent that afternoon. I’m sure Eva never dreamed when she picked up the phone that day that the call would be a real estate agent’s opportunity of a lifetime — starring in a national real estate TV show!
But not so fast, because the Location Coordinator for the series wasn’t entirely sure that Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and Cape Charles in particular, would be a location that could really work for them. After all, we’re small, rural, and relatively unknown. In fact, nobody on the actual production team had ever heard of our area, let alone been here. But Eva, who knows Cape Charles like the back of her hand, having been a top agent in Blue Heron’s Cape Charles office for many years, flipped that ol’ lemon right into a super tasty lemonade.
Well, said she, Cape Charles may be a small town, but it’s lovely, truly quaint, and historic, offering charming affordable homes, most built in the early 1900s, which have retained their yesteryear charm and character. It’s really Virginia’s Mayberry, but with beautiful beaches, two state-of-the art marinas, and all the charming little shops, art galleries, and restaurants that make life in this small town so unique and exciting.
Not to mention the two new waterfront signature golf courses, top-rated Palmer and Nicklaus courses, placed side by side. And yes, we may be relatively unknown, but HGTV could have the distinction of introducing to a national audience what is really Virginia’s Best Kept Secret — its truly delightful Eastern Shore.
As for rural, we have gorgeous, wide open green spaces to enjoy that other areas can only dream of, with small waterfront neighborhoods nestled between spacious family farms, neighborhoods with beaches, opportunities for boat docks — neighborhoods offering the type of affordable waterfront homes the Home & Garden channel is trying to introduce to its audience.
Well, the rest, as they say, is history, and HGTV has spent the last three days here on the Eastern Shore, filming Eva and her buyers, Jim and Jodi, touring and discussing some of beach homes they considered.
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So I have spent the last three days shooting the shooting, taking photos for Blue Heron of the entire production as the crew, who arrived with a van crammed to the hilt with equipment, set about filming the show. And I learned a lot. First thing, the hours are long — start time for set-up, about 8:45 a.m., average time for the day’s wrap up, about 7 or 8 p.m.
The friendly-but-all-business film crew works for the independent television production company, Magilla Entertainment. Magilla, headquartered in New York City, bills itself as ”a recognized leader in the field of non-scripted TV,” and is contracted with HGTV to produce this new series of which the Eastern Shore show will be a part.
The seven-member crew headed up by Beth, Producer/ Director, and Paul, Director of Photography, was ably backed up by Tom, Sound Director, and Mitchell, Assistant Director of Photography. The rest of this hard-working group included Set Coordinator Shona, Production Assistant Sam, and Production Assistant Tim.
The second thing I learned is that apparently coffee is absolutely essential to TV production! The first day, Mitchell, who had spent the night on the Virginia Beach side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, arrived on the Eastern Shore side with individual cups of Starbucks for all, plus an 8-cup Coffee Traveler back up — which got emptied in a flash as refills were poured all around. No donuts though — everybody slim and trim; donuts probably never cross their lips.
However, surprisingly, the next item on the agenda each day was — ordering lunch. A laptop showing the on-line menu for the selected restaurant of the day is passed around, and Shona records everyone’s order, which will then be ready when the crew arrives at the restaurant or picked up to be eaten on set, because only a half hour is allotted for the lunch break. You snooze, you lose in the TV production business — TV execs may well enjoy a three hour martini lunch but the production crew better gobble theirs down in 30 minutes!
Although any discussion of the individual houses the buyers considered is strictly verboten until after the show airs, I can discuss and include photos of the locations where the general segments like the “Meet and Greet,“ the “Reveal,” and “The Interviews” were filmed.
“Meet and Greet” obviously is a re-enactment of when Eva and her real-life clients met for the very first time. This segment was shot out on the spacious patio of a lovely waterfront restaurant in Cape Charles, Aqua, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and beaches.
The day itself was simply gorgeous, could not have asked for more beautiful weather — clear blue skies, wispy white clouds floating by, about 75 degrees, absolutely perfect.
This is a non-scripted show, so Beth, the Director, discusses briefly what they want to say, then it’s just filming extemporaneous conversation between buyer and agent after that. Take, after re-take, after re-take of extemporaneous conversation because someone slips on a word, or has too long of a pause or loses their train of thought, etc., etc. Which is why it takes several hours to film what I’m guessing will actually be less than 4 or 5 minutes during the show. Not to mention noise interruptions from boats cruising by, unexpected talking from a passersby, delivery trucks, etc., all of which require re-takes because of the high sensitivity of the mics.
“The Reveal” — the point in the show where the clients let the agent know which house they have decided to purchase, was shot on a Cape Charles beach. A different location, on one of the Shore’s private beaches just south of Cape Charles, had been planned originally. But because of the technical difficulty of having to wait for the sun to get a little higher in the sky get the best light to shoot the portion on the restaurant patio, it was decided to save the breakdown and re-set up time required to move to the private beach location, and just shoot ”The Reveal” right there.
So down we traipsed to the beach, Paul and Mitchell on camera to the landward side, shooting towards the beach and the Bay, Tom holding his shotgun mic on a long boom overhead.
(I also learned a teensy bit about TV sound. Tom has a sound mixer strapped to the front of his body, like a baby sling. The equipment itself has about 6 or 8 different channels which record the sound from each individual wireless mic, called a lavaliere. The buyers and the agent each have their own mic and the process of getting fitted up, with wires running down back or front of shirts, is pretty funny. The shotgun mic also has its own channel. All of this sound gets mixed at the end, and in a very complicated process, gets layered on top of the video film, the music then gets added, all of which, together, create the crisp, clear sound we hear on TV programs.)
At any rate, many takes later, Eva and the Outlands having strolled up and down the beach at least a dozen times, discussing the selected house, Beth was satisfied. By then, the sun had risen to the correct angle in the sky, the crew went back to the restaurant to begin shooting the ”Meet and Greet” segment, and Shona zipped off to the Cape Charles Coffee House for an urgent coffee fix for everyone.
Saturday’s scheduled shoots included ” The Interviews,” the segments where Beth interviews both the buyers and the agent, engaging in wide-ranging discussions of the area, the various homes they considered, their personal real estate preferences, etc. These interviews were conducted in the backyard of a lovely beachfront home listed by Blue Heron Realty, located on a dramatic bluff overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, use made possible by kind permission of its owners. The bluff was such a great setting to portray the beauty of the Eastern Shore outside the town of Cape Charles — little waves lapped the shoreline, and seabirds flew overhead. Unfortunately, the day was a little grey and cloudy in contrast to the perfection of the 2 prior days of filming.
Nevertheless, with only a few interruptions, “The Interview” segments, which had begun set-up at 10 a.m., finally wrapped up about 5:30 p.m. I’m sure everybody was tired and glad that the show basically “was in the can.” Eva certainly looked great for her interview, dressed in white slacks, a gorgeous deep teal blouse with stunning matching jewelry on loan from Moonrise Jewelers in Cape Charles. Thanks Moonrise, who had kindly loaned several of their original creations to coordinate with Eva’s outfits. (And congrats are due Eva on another front, as she just qualified to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon! And at Blue Heron we are all so proud of Eva for convincing HGTV that the beachfront bargains on Virginia’s Eastern Shore would make a terrific show for their network!)
So, in January 2014 you will be able to watch the show and see the great affordable Eastern Shore beach homes the buyers had to choose from, and contemplate whether their choice would have been your choice!
UPDATE: Click here to see the beginning of the show.