Behind the Scenes at the Hallmark Channel
It’s been a whirlwind two-week period. My book, Live Your Best Day Ever, officially launched June 20. Writing the book took almost two years, and after the bulk of the writing was done, there was editing, revisions, grueling rewrites, and more editing. Now that the book is out, the work transitions from writing to telling people I wrote a book. There are a lot of books out there and getting your book to stand out requires small, incremental daily efforts that sometimes lead to giant leaps forward like the Hallmark Home & Family Show.
It was such an honor to be invited onto the show to talk about creativity as a journey and how creativity has been essential in my life. After all, it’s what gave me both solace and the courage to leave my job as a correctional officer and launch into the world of entrepreneurship. Home & Family loves to celebrate the holidays all year round so we came up with a fun way to showcase the work I do at Bramble Berry and also touch on my new book, Live Your Best Day Ever. You can watch the full clip here.
First, we talked with the producers about a project we could showcase that their viewers would find interesting yet not too daunting to make themselves. The sweet spot is inspiring would-be crafters to make their own soap, not to make them think, “Oh, that’s too hard. I could never make that.” After many rounds back and forth, we settled on a project from 2014: Doughnut Soaps with eco-friendly jojoba bead sprinkles. We knew it would be aggressive to fit that project into the segment and talk about the book in the time allotted, but we were feeling ambitious!
Los Angeles traffic was something amazing to behold. I’m so thankful I flew in the day before filming, because it took me over 2 hours to get from the airport to Studio City, just 14 miles away. I got the last hotel room in a small sweet budget hotel that had a bodybuilder convention and a Japanese anime comic convention there at the same time. The Japanese anime fans knew a surprising number of the ‘famous’ bodybuilders. It was a cool and surreal lobby experience; truly L.A.
The next day, I checked in with the guard on set at 8 a.m., fresh-faced with no makeup on. As I made my way under the famous Universal Studios arch, my breath caught in my throat. This was where all the movies get made! Continuing the surrealness from the night before, I drove past empty, quiet sets on my way to the Home & Family set house. There were entire ‘abandoned’ towns; huge massive fake walls erected to look like towns; cavernous sound studios; and, of course, golf cart buses of people with cameras touring the lots, hoping to catch a glimpse of a star or two (not gonna lie; I wanted to see one too!).
The entire crew on the set was friendly, welcoming, and kind. They directed me to my trailer (squeeee! a trailer!) and I set down my suitcase with its multiple outfits and wandered down onto the set to make sure all the ingredients had arrived. Before I knew it, I was in rehearsal, and then there was a camera on…and that’s when I learned that you should never (ever) leave the safety of the trailer without makeup on. If you’ve seen the clip, you’ll notice there was some footage shot ahead of time. I look decidedly not polished and a little disheveled in that b-roll footage. Mostly I was thinking, “Oh my goodness, I’m not wearing any makeup! I hope they don’t show this!” Of course, that footage did make the final cut. Haha.
We were busy all day. I had time to grab a quick bite to eat from the (amazing) catering truck they had set up for the cast and crew, but other than that, it was very go-go-go. I was part of the ‘audience’ during the show and very much enjoyed seeing how much work, energy, and effort goes into making a show as well done as Home & Family.
Because Home & Family is a ‘live to tape’ show, which means that they film the entire thing as though are live the entire time. So between each segment, the cast and crew move locations, and they do it as though they only have the 2 minutes for the commercial break to get set up again. This also means that if earlier segments go even a squosh longer, they need to cut it from the end…which ended up being my segment, just a bit. When it came time to roll camera, it was 3 p.m. and my segment was down to 4.5 minutes. We didn’t have time to rehearse or talk about the new game plan. It’s so great that hosts Debbie and Marc were amazing on their feet (they’re such pros) and were able to go with it on the fly for the newly shortened segment. I’m delighted with how it came out and am so thankful for the opportunity.
If you ever get an opportunity to tape a quick, live segment, learn from my experience. I have some tips based on how it went for me to help make your time on-air a success.
- Come up with phrases or talking points in advance, ones that you can always fall back on. For example, I wanted to be able to say two things that I deeply believe: that creativity is essential and that handmade is best made. So, no matter where the interview went or if I completely flubbed everything else up, I knew I had those two things to fall back on. So if you, have a small business that makes handcrafted products, two key points for you could be around the quality of ingredients and how your business supports the local economy.
- Be happy, smile, and roll with it. Being on TV can be stressful. There’s a lot going on and it’s really fast-paced. Always remember to smile, no matter what. Be genuinely joyful about what you’re there to talk about. In my case, it was a project I had invested two years of my free time to – penning life lessons in the Best Day Ever book – and I also got to showcase my favorite activity at the same time. Even with that, the shortened segment heightened the stress. So taking a deep breath, remembering the “why” of why you’re on the air, and smiling comes across much better on camera.
- The host is the expert; let them shine. If you’re on a talk show, or on any medium that has a host, that host will be better than you at the actual TV part of things. Yes, you are the subject matter expert, but the host keeps the entire thing rolling. Take your cues from them and don’t try to control the conversation. They’re watching the clock and they know what they want to talk about.
- Always be camera ready if you are on set. You never know when a camera will be on you so arrive on set with your game face on, some make up and your hair done. As I alluded to earlier, I didn’t do this and I learned my lesson.
- Rehearse. If you get the opportunity to be on camera, rehearse what you want to say with family, friends and the producers of the show. I felt silly, alone in my trailer reviewing the 90 seconds of “here’s how you make doughnut soap” in front of the mirror but I believe that’s one of the reasons that the segment went as smoothly as it did. The segment went so fast that I didn’t remember one single thing about it until I watched the show on the next day. Thank goodness I prepared!
I had a wonderful time on-air. The hosts of the show, Debbie Matenopoulos and Mark Steines, were true pros. I was so thankful for their graciousness on set and their ability to move things along gracefully. They were delightful and I hope I have the chance to work with them again. In the meantime, if you made the doughnut soap, be sure to tag it on social with #brambleon so I can see your creativity in action. Until next time, happy soaping! =)