The Roller Coaster of Construction in Television: An Old Oak Story

April 7, 2018

When it comes to knowing how to build a home, we know exactly what we’re doing. We can renovate, construct, demolish, electrify, design, and refurbish just about anything with land underneath it. At Old Oak, we take immense pride in our successes.

But sometimes, no matter how hard we work or how many hours we spend on what we love, success just doesn’t come to us.

Last year, we had a chance to do something incredible that had the potential to put Old Oak and Wendell in the national spotlight. This opportunity started with a normal evening in the office, wrapping up some paperwork for one of our many projects and catching up on reaching out to clients with status reports.

It was business as usual – except for one email.

A producer from a major network found us through one of our social media feeds and wanted to know if we would be interested in being considered for a television show. Our own TV series. She left her number and told us to contact her if we’re interested.

 “We’re being catfished.” That was our first thought.

However, we all have that voice in the back of our head that fixates on an idea and just won’t quiet down. If this was a scam, then we could just call, figure out it’s a phony offer, then just move on. But what if it wasn’t?

Having an Old Oak television series wasn’t part of our original business plan. Even though friends and family saw what we were doing and told us that we should have a TV show, we always dismissed it to some extent. But with our growing family, two businesses in town, and responsibilities on the town council, we were trying our best to simplify. Any daydreams we might have had of being the next TV home-renovating dream couple were pushed down.

But what if it wasn’t a scam?

The call was made. It was legitimate. The roller coaster began to roll.

The next few months were spent doing phone and video interviews, testing our screen appeal. Eventually, a Los Angeles production company was scheduled to come in to create a five-minute-long “sizzle reel” – a short promotional video meant to gain the interest of network executives.

If the execs liked it, they would air a 30-minute pilot episode on the network to test audience reactions. If the pilot tested well, then boom – Old Oak, Wendell, our fellow local businesses – we would all be seen the way we’ve always wanted to be seen. The country would know how incredible our home is, and why we’re so proud of everything we’re a part of.

Between each interview was a late-night conversation. Each development in production brought more developed dreams. We’re not used to the spotlight, but if this shot at prominence could mean what we thought it would, we would get used to it.

Small Town Big Charm. That would become the working title of our show. It finally started to feel real.

The production company scheduled to film our sizzle reel came to town in mid-summer and had 72 hours to try to capture a lifetime of personality in a five-minute video. If you ever find yourself on a production schedule, you’ll see that the process is nonstop. A producer, a director, two cameramen, and a sound guy – all meticulously organized, scheduled down to 30-minute blocks at dozens of locations.  Don’t forget the presence of that sweltering, humid, North Carolina Summer heat to add to the stress of trying to look and act better than ever.

At the end of filming, the crew wrapped up all of their equipment and sped off back to their facility for editing. After months of anticipation leading up to the shoot, we were now faced with around eight weeks of more anticipation to see how this piece turned out. The whole experience is reminiscent of the “hurry up and wait” mentality experienced in the military. Get it done right. Get it done quick. Wait for further directions.

Despite the stress of production, we felt incredible about the whole process. We felt like we nailed it. We had more late-night conversations, built bigger dreams, and we absolutely got comfortable with that feeling. Those eight weeks passed with us trying to do what we do best – business as usual. However, we’d be lying if we said that we weren’t a little preoccupied with what the results would be.

The day came. We got an email from the production company with a link to the sizzle reel. We’ve watched a million shows with a husband and wife team renovating old homes, and up until recently, we never really planned on seeing us or our town on a show like that.

But there it was. Beautifully executed. Charisma up to the ears. All of our favorite projects, on the screen, as glamorous as we see them with our own eyes. Our incredible town showcased for everyone to see. We were informed that it would take about three more weeks until the network execs would see the reel, and we’d get a final answer on what will happen then.

How could the execs not love this? Back to business as usual.

Here’s the thing: we are a family of gut-trusters. We take pride in instinct and tackling our challenges head-on. No matter how much pride we have or how hard we work, at some point we will experience that one thing that has the capacity to tear us down.

It’s late summer, we’re on-site with a customer, and an email gets sent to our inbox.

We didn’t get it.

The market is just too saturated right now with husband-wife home renovation shows.

All that anticipation, all of those talks, all of the planning, all of the dreams. In that moment, they felt like they were pulled right out from us. It hit our confidence, our intuition, our pride. We built the idea up so high that, when it came down, it felt like the biggest blow we’ve ever experienced both professionally and personally.

But here’s the thing: we’re still standing. We’re still proud of everything that we do as a company, as a part of our community, and most of all, as a family. It might sound crazy, but if we were given this chance again, we would take it again in a heartbeat – roller coaster and all.

If there’s anything that we’ve learned over the years in this business, it’s that nothing always goes according to plan. We have to accept our failures, and we have to take our chances when we get them. Nobody is invulnerable, and nobody always gets it right the first time around. All we can do, and all we want to do, is keep doing what we love.

For now, we’ll keep building, we’ll keep making people smile, and one-by-one we’ll keep making people proud to call someplace home.