A production crew from the HGTV (Home and Garden Television) series “Lakefront Bargain Hunt,” a spin-off from the “House Hunters” series, was in Aroostook County over the last several days filming an upcoming episode. Crews followed Greg Doak as he looked at four different waterfront properties in the area with Jane Towle, real estate broker for RE/MAX Central. Here, crews film a segment in Portage Lake Monday. The episode is expected to air either in late December or January.
By Scott Mitchell Johnson
PRESQUE ISLE — Filming wrapped in Aroostook County yesterday for a future episode of the “House Hunters” series spin-off “Lakefront Bargain Hunt.” A production crew from the HGTV (Home and Garden Television) series was in the area over the last several days following Greg Doak as he looked at four different lakeside properties in the area with Jane Towle, real estate broker for RE/MAX Central.
“An obvious question would be ‘Did you apply for this?’ ‘Did you send your name in?’ or ‘Did you send in an idea?’ and my answer to those questions is ‘Absolutely not,’” said Towle. “There’s no way — that I know of — that you can do that.
“The producers contacted me out of the blue about a month ago, and at first I thought my husband was playing a joke on me,” she said. “Their answer back was, ‘We hear that a lot.’”
After additional discussion, Towle realized the conversation was legitimate and the show wanted to film in northern Maine.
“During the pre-interviews they told me they loved Aroostook County. They have Google Earth and Google Maps … they had been looking at the area. They knew what they were coming into before they even got here as far as the beauty of The County,” she said. “The lakes really made them do a double-take, and then the prices of the lakefront properties impressed them.”
Doak, who is the coordinator of Campus Center Services at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, said he was lucky to be chosen for the show.
“How often are you fortunate enough to be part of something of this magnitude here in beautiful, small Aroostook County?” he said. “It’s a bit surreal.
“The crew was already interested in coming to do an episode because of the time of year … they wanted to come when the foliage was at its peak and really showcase what Aroostook County has to offer,” he said. “I happened to be in the market and fit some of their criteria. We had a Skype interview with them and they liked what they heard and saw, and the rest is history.”
Based in New York City, the production crew arrived last Thursday and began filming the next day.
“They’re used to having 12-hour days to shoot,” said Towle, “but they quickly realized they had about 9.5 hours to shoot because it gets dark here earlier. That threw a monkey wrench into everything right away. They went into overdrive when they got here. Their cameras are so highly technical that the minute the light changes they have a difficult time, so that created some challenges.”
Towle and Doak visited waterfront properties on Hanson, Echo, Scopan and Portage lakes.
Though Towle has spoken on camera before for the local television station, this was the first time she’s been involved with such a wide-scale production.
“I’m both surprised and a little bit awestruck at the process to film a national show,” she said. “The demands for TV today are so incredible; I had absolutely no idea. When you look at shows like ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ for example, they didn’t have to fuss because that’s all there was to look at. Even if it was a little bit rough around the edges [from a production standpoint], that was OK. Today, they have to have perfection or else people are turning the channel.
“I can’t tell you how many times we had to stop filming because there was a plane — a big, high one — going overhead. They couldn’t even tolerate that background noise,” she said. “A dog barking in the background, they would say, ‘Cut!’ Somebody hammering a nail into a board 500 yards down the street, ‘Stop!’ A truck with a trailer driving by, ‘Stop!’ There was a guy with headphones, and every little piece of noise, he would yell ‘Cut’ because of the background noise. They say ‘sound is king, not sight.’ It was interesting.”
Both Towle and Doak said the crew was wonderful to work with.
“I can’t speak enough about how professional, yet warm these people were. They’re a tremendous group of people. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew,” she said. “I would definitely do this again. This was such an opportunity and I’m grateful for it.”
“It was an incredible journey to go through the process,” said Doak. “Initially before we even met the crew I think everyone involved was nervous … ‘Am I going to look the part?’ ‘Am I going to say the right thing?’ ‘Are they going to be able to edit when I make a mistake,’ but they came a couple of hours early without any work going on whatsoever — no filming or recording — and just hung out. We spent two hours getting to know everybody on the crew, laughing, and getting a little back story on everyone. They put us at ease, and they were great people to work with.
“Everything was done in multiple takes, so you had the opportunity to say, ‘You know I really didn’t like the way I said that’ or ‘Could I have said that better?’” he said. “They were wonderful about prompting and scripting a lot of what we did. It was amazing to see the amount of footage that they were shooting that they’re going to condense down into a 22-minute episode. The program is 30 minutes long, but there’s eight minutes of commercials. Four-and-a-half days of shooting gets condensed down to 22 minutes. It will be neat to see how they put it all together.”
Doak wishes to thank UMPI for giving him the time needed to film the episode.
“The University was incredibly gracious about allowing me time to prepare for the crew coming and giving me ample time while the crew was here filming,” he said. “There was a lot of time involved, and the University and my co-workers were fantastic. They picked up the slack while I was out and I appreciate it very much.”
Towle said she heard from the production crew that having national exposure can have a huge impact on an area.
“A lot of people are drawn to lakefront properties,” she said, “and the affordability of waterfront is so rare anywhere across the country, which is part of what drew them here. Their hope is that after this episode airs that people will say, ‘Wow! You can buy a lakefront property for that price? We have to look into this.’ There are people that are very transient that will go to a place just for an adventure; they don’t need to have family or friends there, or even having had visited there before. If they see this, it might trigger something. We could see an uptick of interest in our area after this show runs.”
The episode of “Lakefront Bargain Hunt” featuring Towle and Doak is expected to air either in late December or January.
Attempts to reach a show producer were unsuccessful.