The following is a guest post from Cara Ameer, a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
There is something about orchestrating a video shoot for real estate. The minute the camera comes out, traffic stops, heads turn and all eyes are on you, the agent, as you are trying to get through the shoot. People immediately stop to see what is going on, trying to figure out who that person is in front of the camera. Nothing gets people talking to you faster than when they see filming in action. Is HGTV here? Are you making a movie? Is this a commercial? Now perhaps in California or New York, this is an every day occurrence where passers by hardly blink without noticing, but in the market in which I live and work in Northeast Florida, this is a pretty big deal. Once you’ve encountered this phenomenon a couple of times, the nerves shake off and you learn to do your stand-ups with cars stopped, eyes peering through blinds across the street and even golf games being put on pause.
Gawkers, Stalkers and Fame Seekers
During one video shoot I did for a home situated on a busy fairway, there was a non stop flow of golfers, which made doing take after take pretty interesting. I was located on the home’s balcony over looking the golf course which seemed somewhat secluded and far enough away so as not to be distracting, or so I thought. Apparently the camera, tripod and my standing there was enough to stop golf traffic. This would have been the one time I wished the ranger would have come by! During those moments, the groups of golfers seemed mesmerized, but not by their own game. I remember several groups that had come through that seemed particularly interested in watching the shoot vs. teeing up their shots on the fairway. I was hoping they would get back to their game vs. listen to several of my takes, retakes, etc., but no such luck. Unfortunately, it was one busy day on the course with no break in the action, so I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for things to slow down. My cameraman/producer/director (i.e. husband) was growing rather impatient and motioned for me to get on with it, so I just smiled and waived and went through the stand-ups trying to act as if I didn’t notice. Understandably, they were chomping at the bit to know what we were filming. As if all of this excitement was not enough, I received a call from an agent who was sending an offer on the property! It had only been listed a couple of days. Maybe that’s the secret to getting a home sold so quickly.
Not Al Franken with the Weather Satellite on Your Head
Invariably, on these video shoots, Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Just as you are about to do the ideal “take” a helicopter flies overhead, the lawn guy shows up or a huge gust of wind decides to ensue. Mother Nature never seems to be on your side during these gigs. I remember walking in one home in which I was going to do a video shoot in which the thermostat showed an inside temperature of 89 degrees! The owners were away and the A/C had been turned up and the thermostat was locked – only programmable via a secure code. Of course it was 95 degrees outside. I was just hoping neither the cameraman nor myself were going to faint. Nevertheless, I felt myself quickly wilting and we pushed to get through the shoot as quickly as we could. No matter how much planning can go into what you are doing, that sunny morning suddenly turns dull and cloudy, or storm clouds roll in with rumblings of thunder and rain drops ensue as you are doing your walk and talk around a pool.. Where’s the make-up and hair person?
Video shoots can also cause the most relaxed of people to become tense, particularly when you want to put them in a video. While I was at the local news station for my monthly appearance on a lifestyle show, I was asked by the morning show host if I was available to do a news story on the improved housing market. The reporter wanted to film me showing homes to customers. Seems like a simple enough request. I thought I could work that in as I was actually going to be showing a buyer several homes later that day. Problem was that was going to be too late by the time the reporter needed the video for his piece, which was scheduled to air on the 5:00 pm news. So, after doing some quick thinking, I thought that he could film a walkthrough that I was going to after I left the news station with buyers that were going to be closing on their new home later that day. While that seemed like the perfect solution to the dilemma at hand, not so fast. I frantically called both buyers – one initially said yes, the other was not as comfortable, but agreed to do it. I then had to call the listing agent to get permission from the seller. They were ok with it, but were worried about the moving truck in the driveway and the Department of Agriculture that was there inspecting plants that were going to be moved! I had to call the reporter back to ask if that would be an issue to which he said not to worry about it, they could shoot around that and a moving truck would add good visuals for the piece. So, in a matter of fifteen minutes, I had stirred the pot with a plethora of phone calls back and forth, phone tag and text and voice messages. I then received a call from the buyers saying they weren’t comfortable going through with it for a variety of reason, so that idea was nixed. On to plan C (a good agent is always ready to pull off the impossible and has a plan b, c, and d). I immediately called a seller who was always primed and ready to show their home. They were thrilled at the thought of the news station showing up and promptly chased their carpet cleaners out of the house (they were just finishing up anyway) so as to be ready. Of course seeing the news truck in the driveway had the neighborhood all abuzz – especially in the middle of the day and when you consider most of the neighborhood consisted of retirees. We were able to do the shoot in about a half hour. The reporter asked the seller and me some questions about the improving housing market while literally putting the camera so close to my face I was afraid I was would be breathing on the lens! Hence the fishbowl shot. While I wasn’t thrilled about my close-up, I was pretty excited as I was able to arrange all of this in less than an hour, all the while by driving back from the news station and was still able to make it to my walk through and closing in time.
15 seconds of fame (if that)
I was showing property by the time the piece aired and although I did not catch it in the first run, I immediately starting receiving text and Facebook messages from people who saw it. Luckily, the piece was posted to the news station’s website so I was able to see it later and post for the owner and all of her family and friends to see.
Be Sure to Make Friends With The Neighbors!
One thing you can count on with real estate videos is the proverbial neighbor (or two) that stop by. During a recent shoot I was doing for a property, I was doing the stand-ups in the courtyard with the pool and summer kitchen serving as the back-drop. The challenge was that the pool pump and cleaner were running (noisy) and the camera was showing shadows of me due to the time of day and angle. So, the stand-up was taking a bit longer to get through. We had to play with a couple of different angles in the courtyard, but still ensure that the pool and outdoor space could easily be seen and that I could be heard. I was also trying to do more “walk and talk” for the video vs. standing stagnant (it was my pretend I’m on HGTV moment). In the course of trying to sort through all of this, playing back the takes with my cameraman/producer/director/husband critiquing and coaching, I heard some rustling as if someone had gone outside from the house next door (and the homes were VERY close together). I immediately thought to myself, oh great, someone is going to wonder what in the heck is going on over here as they probably heard take after take of “Hi, I’m Cara Ameer with Coldwell Banker and welcome to… “ Sure enough, there was a knock on the door. Turns out the neighbor thought the seller was home when they saw a car in the driveway (ironically I had the same car as the owner) and were apparently trying to get in touch with them. All a bit awkward, as I explained I was listing the property for sale and was in the process of shooting a property video which is why I had a microphone on me and the camera set up with the tripod in the background. Of course this sparked an entire conversation about the property and how much the asking price was, where the sellers were, did I have their new phone number, etc. The neighbor thought the price was attractive and in good agent fashion I asked him in the event he knew of anyone, to please keep it in mind.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3 and Ghosts in the Machine
With any video shoot comes planning, practice and preparation. On the eve of a big shoot that involved local celebrity homes, my husband and I were testing out the brand new wireless microphones that we had just invested $1K to purchase. After much back and forth, we got the audio channels synched and ready (or so we thought). We headed out to the shoot the next day excited to try out the new equipment which was sure to deliver higher sound quality as promised. We progressed through the entire shoot only to return home to find out that Houston, we indeed had a problem! We had video, but no audio. What to do? We sheepishly had to go back to said local celebrity and ask if we could do another take. They most graciously agreed, to which we thanked them with a very nice bottle of wine!
On another shoot involving a high profile property, one of the microphones somehow picked up the sermon from a nearby church! This was only discovered when we were loading the audio and video into the editing software getting ready to put the piece together. Somehow the frequency of the church’s microphone and one of our microphones were tuning into one another.
Note to self: check, recheck and test again and again before setting up the next scene as you never know!
Despite all of the above, incorporating video is a fun, dynamic and exciting way to tell a home’s story and bring a property and neighborhood to life. In this age of digital and social media, and things going instantly viral, video is an essential tool when showcasing a property for sale. The possibilities are endless. So, count down with me, 3, 2, 1… action!
Check out Cara’s outtake video from Ponte Vedra Cribs
Cara Ameer is a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and serves as a regular contributor on the local lifestyle show called First Coast Living where she covers a variety of real estate trends and topics of interest. Click here to view Cara Ameer’s profile.