It’s been nearly a month since we “wrapped” shooting. Long enough to make me wonder if it really happened at all. We have photos, so … that’s proof. Right? It must have been real.

Scene I, Take I

Part of the surrealism is how fast it came about. It seems like things which are special should have a big buildup, even if they end suddenly. Kinda like pregnancy, I guess. Nine months of anticipation and preparation (and then suddenly, there she is … Baby!). But this dropped out of nowhere, completely unexpected.

It started with a message on the telephone answering machine. It was the real estate agent who represented the sellers of what was to become Willow Creek Estate. A television producer was preparing to pitch a new show called “We Bought The Vineyard.” He was looking for a property which had a certain “look.” He found the right property, our property, while scanning through listings on the Internet. The listing led to the agent, which in turn led to us.

Within a couple days, paperwork was signed. Within a week, we finished conference calls and Skype sessions, making sure everybody understood the process. There was even a “casting” session. You know … making sure we were relatively photogenic and could speak clearly.

Before we really knew what was happening, the schedule for shooting was set. The producer / director preferred shooting in roughly chronological sequence. So, our introduction to show business was a shoot at the house where we lived six months earlier. The house where we had lived for 20 years. The house where we raised two kids. The house where we had so many memories. The house where somebody else now lives. Yeah, it was weird.

And the house was so much nicer than when we lived there. But … I digress …

The first scene we filmed was us, standing awkwardly in front of a camera, feeling (and, I’m sure, looking) completely uneasy. These shows aren’t exactly “scripted.” We talked with the director about the goals of each scene. These things are about moving each idea from point A to point B. In the opening scene, we tell a story about wanting to transition from our former lives into something new. Once the basic concept was hashed out, we took our places and started babbling in front of a rolling camera. And we just kept talking until they got enough footage so that they could piece together something coherent.

Making Magic

The second day of filming was at “Property Number 1.” It was a lovely home on a beautifully kept vineyard in San Miguel. The owners, Larry and Nona, were awesome hosts and lovely people. If we were looking for a new home, Property Number 1 would have been a strong contender. But in Hollywood, things don’t always turn out like you might expect.

The third day of filming was in and around our new home. Except, it wasn’t our new home. It was “Property Number 2.” It goes without saying that we really liked this “candidate.”

The next day we filmed at “Property Number 3.” It was a beautiful house with a true “gentleman’s vineyard.” Depending on how things turn out at Willow Creek Estate, we may end up living at Property Number 3.

After the third property, we hit the road to film our “Big Decision.” The folks at Brecon Estate were gracious enough to let us stroll around their vineyard as we agonized over which or the three properties we would choose. This was a huge thrill for us because we’ve spent many hours at Brecon Estate, drinking their fantastic wines. And months earlier, we stopped there to review properties with our real-life realtor, Kevin Klein. The shoot was more of an event, but it felt like the story had come full-circle.

On the last day of shooting, we were joined by great friends. The idea was that this was some number of weeks after we had moved in. On film, as in real life, our lives had changed. Art imitated life.

Each scene at each location followed the same basic pattern. There was the main shot of walking or talking or sitting or standing or drinking or whatever. Then there were secondary shots, either from a distance or close-up, usually with dialog similar to the first shot. Then there were longer shots, typically with more and similar dialog. If we were walking in the scene (through a house or a vineyard), we’d shoot tighter footage with a Go-Pro because they allow more mobility than a larger camera. Then there were aerial, drone shots when we could say any crazy thing we wanted because sound couldn’t be recorded without the drone buzz. So much redundant redundancy!

It’s A Wrap!

Unlike the previous days, the final day of filming flew by. Before we knew it, everyone was gone. Vanished.

And the next day, we went back to work. Back to normal lives.

We don’t know yet when our episode of “We Bought The Vineyard” will air. Or even what network. But it will be a fun to see. Cringeworthy, I suspect, but fun nonetheless.

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