A month or two before we moved to Scotland a lady reached out through one of the immigration Facebook groups I’m in and was looking for people who were moving to Scotland. She was casting for HHI. In a message I told her about our situation and that I was fairly certain we weren’t what they were looking for and she responded indicating that we were exactly what they were looking for. After some back and forth she told us to get back in touch once we arrived in Scotland and found a flat. I talked to my husband about it and while it wasn’t anything we would have ever previously considered doing we figured why not. We’re moving across the world, why not film a tv show as well. It seemed like another adventure to us and it would also pay us enough to cover a month of rent and bills (it pays three times more than regular House Hunters). In a perfect world we would have been able to just film the show but never have it air on tv.
Fast forward a few months, we found a place and the assistant producer asked us to fill out an application and do a short video so that she could present it to her team for approval. She was a total sweetheart and very enthusiastic about our story and if it weren’t for her we probably wouldn’t have gone through the effort. It took us a while to get around to getting the app and video clips done (she did the editing on her end to make it pretty) but eventually we did, the team liked us and we were scheduled to film in December.
Filming was five very long days. It was chaotic at times and things didn’t seem to go quite to schedule and that drove me nuts. It was also initially weird having a camera constantly around but we got used to it. It’s stressful having a team of people around all day for five days in a row but we couldn’t have asked for a better crew. They were all so much fun to be around.
I’m struggling with what to cover here because there’s so much. They wanted us to wear bright colors and we didn’t since we’re not bright color people. My wardrobe was very limited at this point in time, so I basically wore some tops from the local charity shop and a coat that’s two sizes too big for most of the filming. The tops looked pretty bad on TV, I was practically swimming in one of them. They wanted me to wear lipstick because I’m so pale and I wasn’t comfortable with that so we compromised on me wearing the assistant producer’s blush and her scarf for some scenes for a “pop” of color. I wasn’t trying to be difficult, I’m just not a colorful person and I NEVER wear lipstick, even when I wore heavy makeup to perform on stage I still never wore lipstick. I had to select a few outfits and depending on which scene we were filming I would have to change into the outfit to match that day. For example, say in the morning we were filming a scene where we were looking at homes, then I needed to wear “wardrobe 1,” and in the afternoon we’d be filming a scene that’s supposed to be the “reveal” and I’d change into another wardrobe for that… we were changing clothes a lot.
Our realtor was a great! He was so so so very nervous when he did his first scene where he’s describing what we’re looking for and what he expects we’ll find. We were all standing there staring at him, poor guy, but it was nice to have the camera facing someone else for a moment. I’ve seen some realtors on HHI that I thought seemed awful, so I was excited that we ended up with someone who was friendly and fabulously Scottish. He even bought us a bottle of whisky! They showed him making a lot of faces in reaction to our comments; however, most of those were cuts from faces made between filming scenes. Actually, a lot of commentary shown was not related to what we were filming but rather pieces of things going on while we were waiting to record a scene.
I’m really assuming if you’re reading this that you realize reality tv is not reality and you are well aware that HHI is a staged show, especially considering how many articles there are about this on the internet. I wouldn’t be “spilling the beans” here if there weren’t already numerous articles and blogs that have already done this over the years. If you didn’t realize this then I do apologize for being the one to break the news to you. Neither of the other two homes that we looked at in the episodes were actually on the market. One of them, the cool house with a garden, was recently sold by the realtor and the other was an Airbnb. Now the positive side of all that is that, knowing what we know about Glasgow, had all three of those truly been our options we still would have picked our current flat. The “villa” that we looked at was located in an area of Glasgow that is getting safer but is still not an area I’d walk around after dark. The Airbnb was located in kind of a crummy complex and filming didn’t show the condition of the hallway leading to the door, it looked like someone had attempted to break into the mailboxes. Also, neither of those two locations had the same ease of access to the subway as our current flat.
I will mention that technically nothing in the show was scripted, most responses were genuine; HOWEVER, if you heard us complain about something in viewing a home then chances are we were told that we were being too positive about the home and HAD to find something to complain about. When we first saw our flat in real life I was amazed and loved it, didn’t complain about anything, but the director of our episode wanted us to throw in complaints here and there so that we didn’t give away our final choice. The difficult part of filming was that every scene was repeated over and over and over, so when you see us talking in the episode know we repeated that scene about a million times. This was due to the need for various camera angles and also due to random mistakes or sound interruptions.
The most stressful day was the day we viewed our flat. We literally had to move out of our home. Movers picked our stuff up and parked around the corner for a while, then came back once we finished filming our viewing and then we had to unpack everything and run like hell to City Centre for the Mars Bar scene which was moved up in the schedule. The movers left a few pieces of furniture, so the flat looks partially furnished in the episode; however, that is all our actual furniture.
I have finally watched the episode a few days ago and I have mixed feelings but I’m all in all happy that we have this little memento. I see it and laugh at scenes because I know what was going on, where the viewer won’t have the same background info, so I laughed a lot. The editing was poor in parts… For example, the trapeze scene, every one of those clips is from a different part of the lesson. They only show me taking off from the platform and then landing in the net, nothing in between and the feedback my teacher was giving wasn’t in context with what was going on. Or when they show a scene from the park in front of our home, notice they accidently used the wrong park, or they used the clip of Ryan discussing the East End flat when we were supposed to be discussing the West End flat (note the West End is not a ground floor flat)… also, pieces of unrelated conversations were edited into random places in the show. Ryan didn’t like that they used the clip of me mentioning his mom’s death, that was part of a bigger conversation; however, knowing his mom I really think she’d support it and say that life is short, grab it by the balls and live. OH OH OH AND they cut out any mention of dog agility. They even filmed a dog agility practice and that got completely cut out. So disappointing. And a funny tidbit, they cut out the part at the end where I told them our neighbor gets up at 5am and works out loudly and I will never live under someone again. Oh well, overall I’m still ok with how it turned out, it makes me laugh, and I’m not worried about 1.8 million people seeing it because there are so many episodes that people will forget it as soon as the next program comes on.
My favorite thing about the whole experience was hanging out with the crew between scenes. Our lunches were covered so our fixer, now our friend, brought us to some fantastic spots and lots of good food was had. They were such lovely people! The whole experience was truly a unique once in a lifetime opportunity for us and makes for a cool memory. They paid for me to go have a few swings on the flying trapeze. We got to try deep fried Mars Bars, which Ryan couldn’t finish because they were so sweet… I thought they were ok but also kind of gross. We had one of those old school red busses all to ourselves for the decision scene. We also got to film in the University Café, which is a place I had to go to even before we moved to Glasgow because Anthony Bourdain filmed there and it looked awesome. How cool to get to film in the same place that he once filmed! Though we are significantly less cool.
Welp, I’m officially outta steam. If I’m leaving something out, or you have questions, feel free to let me know. I’m realizing I’m due for a one-year update post! How have we already flown by the one-year mark?! I’ll get going on that this week and hopefully get it up over the next week or two. I hope this post finds you well. Take care, my friends.