Written by Erin
From the crappy catering to the big reveal, below is Erin’s first-person account of taping her episode of the TLC show Trading Spaces.
Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)
Erin: Diary author and flirtatious helper #1
Jess: Neurotic homeowner #1
Corinne: Giggly homeowner #2
Doug: Hottie Trading Spaces designer
Fast Eddie: Behind the scenes carpenter, it might not be pretty, but it’s done quickly
Daniel: Flamboyantly gay, magnificent sewing man – this girl is different!
Paige Davis: Girly-girl Trading Space hostess
Randall: Makeup artist with no time for makeup fangirls
Regan: Production assistant
Mark: Hottie production assistant with the best ass I’ve seen in a long time
Amy: Fellow makeup fiend, helper #2
Wednesday June 11, 2003
I gave myself plenty of time to get ready this morning. A last-minute white tank top purchase worked well. It wasn’t as see-through as another top I was going to wear and it was a bit shorter as well. I tried to stay natural with my makeup but really, when aren’t I in a push up bra and full makeup doing home improvement projects?
Jess and I both arrived at Corinne’s house a little before 8:00 am. There was some awkward silence as we waited for the crew to arrive, which was about 8:15. Catering set up our meager breakfast in the kitchen – sad little muffins, bagels and yogurt. They expect me to survive on this? Good thing I had a bowl of cereal before I left home. At least they brought coffee.
Apparently Doug does his laundry at the homeowner’s house at every shoot. This I did not know, but sure enough, down to the basement he went and all we heard the first day was, “Did someone put my laundry in the dryer?” I stayed away from the laundry because I didn’t want to be the one who shrunk his favorite pants.
A bit of background on the crew: There are three producers – one for each house and a lead. Our house had a production assistant (PA), sound guy, cameraman, and a grip. Floating between the two houses were the runner, the location coordinator and a floater PA. Carpentry World and Sewing World were both over at the other house although Fast Eddie and Daniel both made appearances at our house Day 2. This made our house rather quiet but also meant we had less gawkers so it was all good.
We shot things a little out of order. Our first shot was the “meet the designer” scene, then loading out the room, then the key exchange. The load-out scene we obviously only did once, but the other two we shot three times.
We also shot “cutaways” where you don’t talk, you just nod your head or look or do whatever you were doing when another person was talking. These were awkward to do, mostly because I didn’t realize what they were for until later in Day 1 when I had my A-Ha! moment, and figured out how they use them. Do you know when you’re watching a scene and the people are talking and you can hear the guy talking but you’re looking at the girl nodding her head? Chances are, they filmed the guy talking but then later filmed the girl just nodding her head. That’s the cutaway. The little things that happened during the scene that they couldn’t catch with one camera so they film them after. Things like facial expressions, closeups of the paint can, prop, whatever. They were weird to shoot because you have to keep your facial expressions going for a while to give them enough footage and I could never remember what I was doing when Doug was talking.
I didn’t meet Paige until the key exchange. She’s so cute! And not so thin that I wouldn’t stand next to her on camera. To me, she didn’t come across as perky so much as playful. I liked her, but then again we talked makeup and shopping and bras and girlie stuff like that. She also had a makeup guy with her. Normally she does her own makeup but she was trying out different colors and so had brought Randall with her for the first three episodes. Poor Randall. I think I scared him. I kept wanting to go through his makeup bag (it was all MAC) and musing with Paige about how fun it would be to have someone following you around touching up your makeup. I saw Nymphette and Pop Mode lip glass in one of his side pockets and squeed a bit. I told him my Nymphette was upstairs and he gave me this little nod that said “covet all you want but you’re not touching my makeup, now run away little girl.”
Our producer had all of the scenes he wanted written out, along with who was going to be in them. Some scenes both Jess and I were in, but most of the project scenes would feature just one of us plus Doug. They also work in which scenes they want Paige to be a part of.
Conversations that happen off camera often have to be recreated on camera, which was where the “Paige Cam” came in. After we put the base coat on I commented that the room looked very clean, Jess said it looked sterile. Out came the Paige Cam and a whole scene resulted from that one. We had really no idea where Doug was going with the room and the paint technique. He didn’t explain it very well, something we constantly reminded him.
Once we started painting they shot some scenes with just Jess and I where the producer would ask us questions and we’d talk and answer them. These were really awkward. Jess was playing the feisty, dirty bitch and would make a lot of comments that I just had no idea how to respond to. I tried turning the topic back to something more natural for us to talk about but that didn’t always work.
A lot of people told me “You don’t really do all of the work” before I came on the show. This is true and not true. If we didn’t have to break away from a project to set up and film something else, we probably could do all of the work by ourselves. But the projects take time and you’re always waiting for something so the production assistants and producers help out. But believe me, we still were constantly working. We did a fairly elaborate paint technique in our room. We started about 2:00 in the afternoon. At least two people were constantly working on it, at times there were five of us in there painting and we didn’t finish until midnight that night. The exception to the rule was sewing. We didn’t sew a stitch except for sewing shut the pillows, Daniel did all of our sewing.
The mood in our house varied. There were times when things were a little tense and times when everyone was laughing. Most everyone on our crew was sarcastic, but it was nice when the sarcasm was put aside (or the really snarky people left to go to the other house for a few hours) and everyone just relaxed and had normal conversations.
Catering sucked. For lunch they brought us soup. Soup! By the time we sat down to eat, it wasn’t even hot anymore. I ate my bowl, looked around and said, “I’m still hungry” which was followed by a lot of head nods. We sent location boy out to get some sandwiches. A girl has to eat! It kind of became a big joke because the meals were so crappy I was constantly begging people to find me more food or making myself another sandwich.
Our homework for the evening wasn’t too terribly bad. Both of our PA’s – Mark and Regan – stayed to help as did our producer and the sound guy from the other crew. Word of advice – be cool homeowners! I personally didn’t ask anyone to stay, they stayed out of the goodness of their hearts and mostly because we were cool, fun girls to hang with. It also helps to offer them beer.
Doug went shopping and came back to check on us. Our helpers had left by then and the house was really quiet. I think he put more laundry in the wash because that seemed to come up the next day. Anyway, he dropped his stuff off and we worked until midnight.
Thursday June 12, 2003
Both of us had trouble falling asleep. We didn’t know security was sitting in front of the house and we were nervous about someone doing something. Turns out I should have been worried about the fact that I felt like an 80-year-old woman trying to get out of bed. Painting involved a lot of kneeling and ladder climbing and I don’t think going barefoot was perhaps our best idea ever. Advil was definitely in order.
Breakfast sucked again and this time, I hadn’t had my backup bowl of cereal. I turned into whiney girl and starting begging people to get me food. We shot a scene outside and when I came back in, Daniel was making eggs. Why didn’t I think of that? One scrambled egg later I was a happy camper.
I expected Day 2 to be project after project but it wasn’t. We spent a lot of time waiting for Paige or fabric or something. We never seemed to have everything or everyone needed for the shot. We ended up shooting five or six scenes back to back and then pretty much stopped filming for the next few hours to work. This part of the day was incredibly chaotic. There was work outside, work inside, projects half done and fans of the show everywhere. Most of the fans congregated at the other house, but we had our own group of hardcore Doug fans hanging with us. Most people seemed to wander back and forth between the two houses. Doug was really good about signing autographs or taking pictures. We filmed a few scenes in the front yard that people were able to watch and as a fan, I think that’s what I would have wanted to see.
There were two young girls who were far more dedicated than any other fans. I remembered seeing them Day 1 and they were there all day for Day 2. Doug bought two couches from the Salvation Army and we were only going to use one. They took the extra couch home. It was ugly. Very ugly. But it was from the show, so they talked their mom into it. They wanted Doug to sign the pillow but he was busy inside. At one point we thought they had left but no, they were waiting by his truck for him. Poor guy. We could hear them asking him questions. My personal favorite was, “Is that your real truck, Doug, or is it a rental?”
We loaded in the room and shot the last scene about 6:00. At this point I was exhausted but I knew the reveal was coming up soon. We had found out that our reveal would be last, which meant we wouldn’t get to see Amy and Corinne’s reactions to the room we had done for them and that we had a lot of waiting around to do. The “after” shots of our room took forever to do. We cracked open a bottle of wine but I didn’t want to drink so much that I was sleepy or stupid for the reveal. To get out of the way, Jess and I went to sit on the front steps. We chatted with the fans and with Regan and slapped away the mosquitoes. Daniel came racing up in his car and dropped off a coffee to Doug, who was sitting in his truck. Apparently we said something to Daniel about wanting coffee, I honestly don’t remember what was said, but 15 minutes later he was racing back with two coffees for us. Much screaming and kissing happened and I was now the proud owner of a huge mocha. God bless caffeine. I was a hyper, hyper girl after that.
About this time the crew from the other house came to our house for Amy and Corinne’s reveal. We headed to the back yard for some privacy. The PA from the other house walked up and Jess asked who he was. As soon as she found out she yelled “Paint!” The crew was really good about covering up any paint they get on themselves so as not to spoil anything, but since he didn’t float between houses, he hadn’t put tape over the splotches on his clothes. Of course I turned to look, so I saw the paint color as well. He felt so bad about it and I tried to tell Jess it could just be an accent color, we had no way of knowing.
It was time for the reveal. Jess and I were put in a vehicle with our PA and producer. Jess didn’t want her first words to be “Oh my god!” when she saw the room so she had decided she would say “Holy shit!” Producer man was not happy about that and told her just to give her honest reaction.
When Amy and Corinne’s reveal was finished, Paige came in the truck with us and explained what would happen. The only thing they really care about is that you keep your eyes closed. We drove towards Jess’s house and waited half a block away until the crew was in position. We then had to shut our eyes so we wouldn’t see anything. It felt very cloak and dagger and was kind of fun. Since we had steps to get up they had us look at the ground instead of closing our eyes until we were just inside the house. Then surprise! They only shoot the reveal once so your reaction is your reaction.
We had champagne in Styrofoam cups for after because we are just that classy. It’s weird because you feel like you’ve been separated from your friends forever, when really it’s just been a day and a half. We had so much to tell them! Quick stories were whispered back and forth and then it was time to celebrate.
The whole crew came to the bar with us. Have I said before how fabulous they all are? Doug, Corinne and I were first to arrive so we snagged spots at the bar. It was so fun to watch people realize who Doug was. Even funnier was watching guys make fools of themselves getting Paige’s autograph. We took a ton of pictures and laughed and drank and it was a fabulous way to end the experience. The executive producer asked us if we would do it again and we all replied “In a heartbeat.”