- The on-screen personalities spend a lot of time actually building stuff for the house: FALSE. Everything they did was planned and scripted. They grabbed some of us blue-shirt volunteers as extras, and told us what we should be doing (sweeping, pretending to measure something, NOT looking at the camera, etc.) I'm no stranger to being an extra (see my blog post from a few months ago), so this really didn't phase me. But we were in big crowds for it, so that was new for me. I did learn the term "cinema veritae" as a few people were asking about the whole "don't look at the camera" deal.
- The scenes are shot in order: FALSE. We shot what the production crew calls the "Braveheart March" (lots of volunteers running in to start working on the house) on Day 3. The house already had windows, drywall, and a roof at this point. We did the March up the street.
- Ty is talking to the family directly via live-feed satellite when using the Ty Cam: FALSE. We did a few scenes of Ty talking into the Ty Cam with us in the background, and while it is a working videocamera and I'm pretty sure it was on for some of it, he definitely was not via satellite with the family at Disney World simultaneously. Ty is close to a one-take wonder, but not quite. All of the on-screen personalities were pretty good at ab-libbing though.
- They only film one location at a time, and Ty and the crew are around it the whole time: Probably FALSE. I'm pretty sure Ty flew to another location on either Day 3 or 4, to be back in time for the reveal on Day 7. Also, in some of the pictures I took of him with the megaphone, I could hear him yelling into the camera addressing a different family than ours.
- The family really doesn't know they were chosen until Ty shows up to surprise them: SORTA TRUE. I believe the family knows that they're "finalists" for the show. Nobody in town knew which family or the location of the build until it was officially released, but rumors certainly abounded!
Wanna get in on the action? Here are some Tips for volunteering:
- Pay attention to the news and the ads on broadcast TV in your area. If the construction company has even a slight clue what they're doing, they should be putting the word out and running ads a month or two before the scheduled build date. Once you have the company's name, take to the internet and see if they have any volunteer info up.
- Try the middle-of-the-night or super early morning shifts. This really is a "round the clock" build, so spare hands are needed any time of day or night.
- Don't expect that all (or any) of your volunteer hours will be spent actually working on the house. There are so many other ways they need help, and the house is pretty much built by professionals (subcontractors, professional roofers, electricians, brick layers, etc.) The most I really did on site was pick up trash and move some bricks. Otherwise, I was just in the way. Expect a lot of standing around and waiting.
- Bring a camera, put it in your pocket. Take pictures, and try to find a celeb without being to intrusive. But if the television cameras are rolling, keep it in your pocket.
- Don't be afraid to be a walk-up volunteer.
- If you are a skilled construction worker, let them know and get on a crew. Most were sent by their company, but random drywallers did show up to do that part.