If you want to get onto a TV home show, know this: It’s competitive
Are you struggling to sell your house? Did you have a renovation nightmare? Does your dwelling have its own story to tell?
If so, you might be a candidate for help from a television home show.
But it’s not easy. “We are inundated with people wanting to be on our shows,” said Allison Page, general manager for HGTV and the DIY Network. It’s not unusual, she said, to sift through 100 or so applications a week.
And why are so many folks clamoring for a shot to be on a show? Some of the shows pay for the labor and materials that go into improvements, some simply offer free publicity and the vaunted 15 minutes of fame, but simple house pride explains the motivation for many wannabe guests.
A quick scroll through the casting call page on HGTV’s website reveals the types of people and scenarios the shows want to feature. Earlier this week, 22 shows were listed. They were looking, among others, for people who had outgrown homes; people wanting to move to Hawaii, Alaska or the Caribbean; “Property Virgins” in North Carolina; and home owners who want Amish craftsmen involved in their renovation. (The website also includes a warning: “We want to remind you that there are scammers who might want to take advantage of your love for HGTV, so please be careful of solicitations offering free home makeovers,” along with instructions about how to verify that a solicitation is real.)
Carter Oosterhouse of “Trading Spaces” and “Rowhouse Showdown” says it’s getting harder and more competitive, for both aspiring hosts and guests. “The landscape of this type of programming has grown, and even though there are more opportunities, there are so many talented people out there that want to get on television,” he said. “It makes it cutthroat.”
Tara Sandler, co-owner of Pie Town Productions, which she started in 1996 with Jennifer Davidson, has had numerous breakout hits, including “House Hunters Renovation.” Every week the company receives close to 50 applications to get on one of its many shows in development.
But there are a lot of qualifications. First, if you’re applying to be on a home renovation show, the home must really need to be renovated. “You can’t have a kitchen that already looks good; it’s not going to make sense,” Sandler said.
Beyond that, the homeowners must be able to participate in the renovation, and they must be energetic, opinionated and have a distinct point of view. “But really the most important thing is that they are passionate about the project,” she said.
Danielle Harrington, supervising casting producer for production company Channel 8 Entertainment, advises people applying to try to be different. She has watched thousands of video clips, and she usually knows within the first minute whether it will be a go. “Sing a song, dress up in a funny costume, do something really unique to grab my attention,” she said. The family that opened its video with a Broadway show tune was a keeper.
Sandler agrees. “I would encourage people to make the best video they can and really show how excited and passionate they are about their renovation,” she said. “We really want people to be enthusiastic and fun to watch.”
Page said the audience must be able to relate to the situation and the guests: “It’s important that viewers feel like they can be a part of it and that they feel, like, ‘Hey, that could be me.’”