Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Making of the Mole Hole AOL Interview

The video link for the AOL video "The 'Mole Hole': Price of Living Alone? The Worst Apartment Ever":

A couple months ago, I was fortunate enough to receive an email out of the blue from an AOL producer concerning one of my blog articles that I posted, “The Mole Hole”. Annie Carroll was interested in filming a video interview of it for an AOL series on bad real estate experiences called "My Next Move." It would document the horrible experience and what you learned from it. How excited was I! After “checking out” the producer (of course from the advice of my big sister Sheryl), I determined she was legit and I emailed Annie back saying I was very much interested in it.

For those that don’t remember or haven't read my blog post, “The Mole Hole,” it is about my worst apartment experience. It was such an odd little trashy studio that my sister Sheryl openly sobbed about it when she walked in, quickly asking if I could get out of the lease. I proudly said that I could not. She sobbed again. After months of living there, it gained the moniker the "Mole Hole" for various reasons including the windowless back room which slanted underground.

Annie and I emailed a couple times about the project and I decided I was definitely into it. We set up a phone conference with her and the associate producer, Kelly, and discussed the Mole Hole blog at length.  The AOL gang would come down to Philly, interview myself, then my sister and I, and then film location footage.  Lastly Annie reminded me not to wear anything too crazy or loud as it would not look good on camera.  I would later choose the perfect boring beige shirt.  I knew I saved that boring shirt for some reason.

I called my sister Sheryl who was initially excited but then subsequently freaked out when I sprung on her that we would be interviewing at her house. "WHAT?!?!" I clearly remember her screaming over the phone. The rest of the initial conversation I can't print. Luckily, the excitement of the news crept back in and Sheryl was all for it. 

Annie, Kelly, and camera woman Rhiannon all traveled down for the afternoon from NYC. Once in Philly, they scouted the Old City neighborhood where the studio was located, recording footage to use for the video. Upon arrival at my sister's home, they were offered beverages and pastries by my sister, ever the gracious hostess.  The ladies set up in Sheryl's dining room. Annie would interview me.  Kelly would assist her taking care of sound and Rhiannon would be on camera.

Annie coaching me along in the interview.
Sheryl and I were so impressed with the three women. These young professionals were so on point with their equipment, sound, lighting, and the entire interview process. After set up and several adjustments to seating, lighting, etc, we began the interview. Annie led me through while coaching me to speak about the "mole hole" in response to various questions.

I began to get bored with myself (believe it or not!) constantly talking about this apartment but Annie reassured me that I was doing fine and giving her great material to use.  It  is definitely a lot harder than it looks. I told the same story over and over again but Annie was a trooper, encouraging me and laughing along the way.  She really put me at ease.

I learned alot about the interview process along the way such as how easy sound travels. I was tapping my foot ever so slightly out of nervousness and Kelly would calmly say "I can hear your foot."  or when Sheryl was being interviewed, "The mike is tapping your necklace." And then her mike fell completely down her shirt. Just the little things that one doesn't think about which can disrupt an interview.

Are you capturing my good side Rhiannon?
I fumbled over words, stopping and asking to restart. After a bit, I was started to get more comfortable and would just stop and after a pause begin speaking again, knowing that Annie could edit out the mistakes.
And then there was the sweating!  We had lights on us but they were not THAT hot. My nervousness (What do the commercials call it? Stress sweat?) took over and I tried sitting on my hands to avoid raising my arms. I also sat on my hands because apparently they oddly gravitate towards my neck when I am being filmed.  Uh, don't ask.
Sheryl and I then interviewed together and we felt our banter was great. After all, Sheryl was a major figure in the blog article. We laughed, talked over each other as usual, and completed each other's sentences. This is normal for us. Throw in our brother Adam and sometimes the conversations become so seamless it is scary! I love how close we all are.

I have to say that my sister's house, inside and out, never looked better.  We were also happy to see so many pictures of our family present in the background of the video.  All of the panicking getting the house ready paid off in the end. Although Sheryl became obsessed with the outside footage at one point, trampling her own garden to remove a pot that I swear no one would see! Several lilies fell that day. God bless them. I just stood staring at her grapple with some hanging pot she was forcibly trying to remove from her railing. 

Unfortunately they were not able to use the interview footage with Sheryl and I. They took almost three hours of video and condensed it down to just over three minutes. I can't even have a conversation in that short of a time span! There just wasn't time in the arc of the video to bring her portion in. We were disappointed. I think I was more disappointed than Sheryl but she took it all in stride.

Me attempting to act and look like I know what I am doing!
Sheryl did though, make it into the beginning in a photo of she and I from the 90's as well as in the B-roll footage they took after the interview. Annie wanted us to look like we were "apartment hunting."  I think it came out great, even with the "disapproving sister" shaking her head no at my apartment choices!

The acting part was weird. I felt completely out of my element and self-conscious walking up and down my sister's outside stairs. (Sheryl's house stood in as a potential apartment building.)  Again, our producers and camera woman put Sheryl and I at ease reassuring us we were doing great. Didn't they just see me walking stiffly down Cambridge Street several times like I was wearing a cast on each leg?

Can I try that stiff walk again?
All in all, it was truly a wonderfully eye-opening experience into the world of filming and video production. Annie, Kelly, and Rhiannon's professionalism in the filming and interview process made for a great afternoon and memory for Sheryl and I. And in the end, their seamless editing could make even this monkey look good. Check out the video below through the link. Eventually, towards the end of June, the video garnered over 250,000 views. Not bad for this frazzled and bumbling blogger!

If you haven't seen it, here is the link again for the video:

And by the way, I never realized that they use stock video footage in videos like this such as the art gallery opening and the toilet footage. My toilet was never that quite dirty. My mother would have been mortified! 


  1. Finally, the action shots from the shoot!--Kimmer