One morning in the late winter of 2017 I got an email from my buddy Shane Reilly that read simply, “Hey man! Let’s get on this show together!” and included a link to a Google doc form. The form had a bunch of questions about crafting and making stuff and asked for some photos of our work and a little video of us talking about what we make. I had all the stuff available so I filled it out and sent it in and then didn’t think about again. Then one day, about a month later, I got a call from a casting agent asking me some follow up questions. I didn’t really remember what they were talking about but we had a nice chat. This call was followed by a few more and then eventually a Skype interview. After the Skype interview and sending so more images of my artwork I left with my family for Italy. While I was in Southern Italy, with little to no internet service, I got some more emails from this mystery show. Eventually they started sending some legal forms and my wife asked, “You’re going to do this TV show aren’t you?” I wasn’t sure yet, so we finished out gelato and left the palazzo for the beach. When we got back I had the big meeting where I met a bunch of the producers and network people. They taped this meeting too and I brought artwork to show them. I remember making a joke that I hoped this would be a TV show that would inspire people to turn off the TV. Despite making this joke in front of a room full of TV people, things seemed to move forward. I had a few more meetings and pre-production stuff and next thing I know a black town car pulled up to my house and took me away to the set. We were put up in an extended stay hotel and they took us out to dinner to meet each other. As if things couldn’t get more surreal, this is the first place we went to:
We all survived that guys sweaty leather shorts. It turned out to be a great way to meet everyone. I remember bonding with Khiem over a shared love of beer and Amber getting up in front of the whole restaurant and belting out a song with the sweaty leather shorts guy. I feel like this dinner really set the tone for the rest of the experience. We got to know each other and have a few beers and bratwurst at a really weird and intense German beer hall. This actually continued throughout the making of the show, we got to go out together and have dinner and a few drinks, minus Captain Stinky Shorts. Where ever we went the people at the restaurant would try to guess how we knew each other. We were too familiar to be workmates and we didn’t look like family. Nobody ever guessed “crafting competition show on NBC”. After this rather strange beginning we arrived at what would be our real home for the next few weeks – THE POD:
People think being on a network TV show is very glamorous, but really it entails an unbelievable amount of hours spent in a dull grey trailer like this one. They put down some artificial turf and some art up on the walls which was very sweet but really didn’t cover up its cramped trailer-ness. This was the place where we really got to know each other. Turns out on a big TV show they need a lot of time to set up cameras and do production stuff that takes forever. Also its hard to know how long all this stuff will take so there are many false starts where you get your make-up and hair done and ready to go but then you end up waiting longer in the trailer. Luckily someone had the idea for us to get some self care before actual shooting began:
That was the first time I’ve ever gotten my nails done. I hadn’t been on a network TV show either so I guess there are first times for everything. I think we were told we needed to get a manicure so our hands would look good on TV but really I think they just wanted to take our minds off the fact that we would be spending many more hours back in the Pod.
Speaking of back in the Pod, right before we faced the cameras for the first time there was a crazy emergency! The network decided that Nicole needed to remove her nose ring. Luckily she was in the right place! The crafters sprung into action. Jo fashioned a pair of pliers out of wire and hot glue and Amber utilized her jewelry making skills to deftly remove the ring just before we were escorted out of the pod. Upon exiting our cramped grey womb, we entered the barn, a fascinating space that was totally overrun with TV production people and their giant, scary camerabot.
Coming Soon: Making It Behind The Scenes Part 2