Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Open the Door

Cheese tasting/filming in the Leiden market
  After months of agonizing anticipation (kinda-sort of, but let’s just go with the dramatic flair – it suits this post), we finally have our House Hunters International episode air date!  Set your DVRs America, for Tuesday, December 3rd at 9:30 p.m. CST (or for any of those night-owls out there, it also repeats later the same evening at 12:30 a.m.)  A Lengthy List of Demands in Leiden is the title of our episode (Seriously, we wanted 4-bedrooms with a pee-space for the dogs. If you call that lengthy, fine. There are worse titles out there. I checked.)  Consistent with most big events in my life, I haven’t actually absorbed the fact of what is going to happen.  Maybe it will hit me the day-of/night before.  Am I seriously going to be on international television?  Nah, that it just too crazy to comprehend.  
  Considering the Netherlands does not have HGTV, we originally were going to have to wait until the network will sent us a copy of the DVD 3-4 weeks after the original airdate.  V is much more motivated than I am, and recently posted a S.O.S. to our friends in America for streaming options.  I think we’ve got a solution.  Considering he (we) stayed up until 2:00 a.m. last weekend to watch the LSU-Texas A&M game, we’ll probably be able to manage a 4:30 a.m. wake up call to check out our debut. 
   I have no idea what to expect.  The film crew was here for four very long days the weekend before Memorial Day. It seems like forever ago.  (Cue icy strong wind, dreary rain-soundtrack, and blurry picture – prompting flashback). 
   May 2013. We received our very intensive schedule a few weeks before the film crew arrived.  (Wardrobe 1, 2, 3, 4. Switch back to wardrobe 2. Wardrobe 4. Introduction scene. House tour 2. Meet & Greet. With kids. Without kids. House tour 3. Switch to wardrobe 4. Etc., etc. etc.) After my initial I excitement, I realized that I was in serious trouble. I had been “making do” with my American-imported wardrobe for a year for a few reasons: A. Business for profit, considering the customer, and other fun commerce-driven habits are seriously lacking in the Netherlands, thus shopping an absolute chore.  B. the Netherlands has a target-market of 6-foot tall women. C. Confusing European sizes. D. A double-stroller in tiny European stores. E. Two kids in the double-stroller.  I realized I was in trouble.  I needed clothes.  My daily wardrobe of an Abominable Snowman t-shirt I stole from my sister 8 years ago was not going to cut it.  Neither was my dusty Corporate America suits and heels.  My husband gave me a handful of cash with a promise to keep the kids entertained, and I set off for Den Haag/The Hague.  Thank goodness for Lady Sting.

  Next, we all had to get our haircuts.  Again, I had been avoiding the issue with my children.  After failed attempts at cutting her bangs, Baby Girl’s bangs were grown out.  Little Man’s hair was a disaster, and although it suited him, record goes to show that his first haircut was prompted by a film crew.  My Mom was visiting us and witnessed the occasion.  His beautiful blonde curls didn’t fall to the ground as the Dutch woman snipped.  His curls became tighter and more pronounced.  The first haircut photos showed a happy (and confused) Mama.  Perhaps the curls are a tribute to his Dutch genes.   

Flower purchasing/filming
The morning of the first day of filming, V and I dropped the kids off at daycare at the end of our block.  (For all those parents out who beg the question – where are the kids during all these house tours?  They’re with the daycare/sitter, for four days straight.)  We headed to the hotel to meet the film crew.  It was a freezing cold, blustery day.  We saw a friend struggling, leaning as close to his handle bars as possible and squinting against the wind as he pedaled by on his bike. “Hi, Vincenzo!” we waved.  He was on his way to work and waved back.  That’s one thing I love about Leiden.  I only know about 20 people, but it’s small enough to run into my friends on a daily basis.  Our waving hands clasped each other’s and V and I headed into the hotel to meet “the crew”. 
They were scoping out locations for the ‘interviews’.   The interview is part of the show where they ask you about how you met, why you’ve moved, etc.  I liked the entire team, instantly. The cast consisted of (In my accountant-lingo):  a sound guy, a video guy, and the on-scene-director-lady.  There was also a local-liaison guy.  He was responsible for talking Dutch to everyone we had to deal with, scoping out restaurants for lunch and/or filming, and buying snacks to keep our energy level up.  They were all friendly, personable, and relaxed.  More importantly than all of this though, was that most of them were parents of small children.  They understood naptimes, bedtimes, dinner times, etc. – which, as silly as it sounds, helped immensely.  I had to pick my kids up by 6. I couldn’t be filming around town at 8:00 p.m.  While the people in London proposing and changing the schedule may not have understood these little fun facts, the people I was working with did. 
V with the Go-Pro camera
After scoping out ‘the specs’ we moved our entourage from the IBIS to the Golden Tulip in Leiden.  It’s an old-school-looking location.  The management had promised cooperation. (Fun fact: when filming, you have to have total and complete silence – if you’re outside and a plane is flying overhead, you have to stop filming)  In the middle of our “interviews” in the restaurant, background music suddenly starts playing overhead Another Fun Fact: in the Netherlands background music in any store is nearly non-existent. I’m sure we’re known around Leiden as the woman with the lion-imitating children. Everyone has heard them with piercing clarity. (Overhead music is yet another marketing tactic stores haven’t embraced.)  But nevertheless, we’re in the middle of filming, and the background music for lunch starts playing over the speaker system.  The director’s jaw drops in disbelief.  She signals liaison-guy to go have a chat.  Liaison guy, who is Dutch, comes back with no solution.  There are rules.  The rules are, the music starts at 11:00 a.m. in preparation for lunch.  Everyone shrugs (including me and V – we’ve been here long enough to understand the stubbornness).  The British director-lady is irate.  We go to a very long lunch, complete with happy dance to get the waiter’s attention to take our order.  After lunch the liaison-guy is run down and ticketed by a bike-riding policeman.  Liason-guy had walked through the crosswalk when the light said ‘do not walk’.  There are rules.    
For the next few days, we walk all over the Netherlands. We view multiple houses. We film in lots of locations. We learn how to get ‘miked-up’, the inside secrets like – how they actually get those scenes when people are driving their cars, and lots of other fun truths about the show.  We act naturally the first time, but then they say, in their lovely British accents “Alright – that was brilliant but now can we get it again so we can get the opposite camera angle.” And then it’s questionable acting (I mean, come on, we’re two business majors).  They took about 10 hours of film and condensed it down into 22 minutes – we’ll see how it goes.

V and I with the crew outside our house
After the final edits, we received an e-mail.  Our casting director in London called our episode “a cracker”.  My American response was “tee-hee-tee-hee-OMG-what-does-that-even-mean?!?!? “ Nervous, I looked up the term on-line.  Cracker: “insane, bonkers, and unhinged”. Huh.  At least my ‘authentic self’ has been documented appropriately for all of the world to see.  Enjoy, America and I hope our sling-box option works okay.       


  1. SO COOL! I have a friend of mine DVRing it for us so we can watch. I might make some puppy chow in honor of the event :-D

    1. Yea for puppy chow! I made some for my friends here (substituting "honey loops' for Chex-not-to-be-found-in-this-country) Still a hit, though. Fun!

  2. Yay I can't wait to see it! Why do they call it "wardrobe" if there are NO FREE CLOTHES? And I assume they did your makeup? *HAPPY SIGH*

    1. Oh my goodness - NO. I was shocked/totally bummed about that as well! My 100 different shades of (at least 18-months old) Mary Kay eyeshadows were what I had to work with. The extent of the direction was - "Oh, Vinny is shining a bit!" And then I'd produce my oil blotter tissues I had received as part of a MK Company party gift bag years ago. BLAH. Of all the things to be "realistic" on "reality t.v." . . .

  3. Aww - thanks! I had another British friend tell me it meant "brilliant" but then again, that's not a super-common word (although more easily translated) We'll see!

  4. Im glad to read you again. Thanks for this post. Best for you Buddy!