This week we meet Casting & Build Researcher, Abbey Kaye, in the highly anticipated return of the rebooted ‘Changing Rooms’. With new presenters and designers, Abbey tells us how they approached the making of such a well known format in a new way as well as how they dealt with casting in the middle of a pandemic.
What did you learn?
Changing Rooms was a great learning curve in a number of areas for me, in both roles of Casting Researcher and Build Researcher. Due to the nature of the programme, we were searching for great character types who were up for the challenge against their neighbours, so it was a lot of fun trying to find these people and then finding their neighbours to do it with them, but this also came with a lot of challenges. This was my second casting job during the pandemic and it really did make things more difficult when the world was still so unsure about what was happening, a lot of people weren’t interested in applying to large productions.
What was great, but also sometimes hindered the casting process of Changing Rooms, was that back in the 90’s/00’s when the show was originally on, it gained a bit of a reputation, which people still remembered… ‘that awful purple room’ or ‘that ghastly black dining room’, so it certainly took some convincing to do to ensure them that this revamp was going to be so much bigger and better – which of course it was SO much more stylish!
Being a Build Researcher on the series, part of my job was to work with the amazing Design Producer and Art Director to order the products that bring the interior designers’ vision into reality – which was a never-ending battle with stocks, budgets and availability of items, which were still being affected by the pandemic. However, it was a great opportunity to think creatively and come up with alternative ways of making products that fitted the beautiful designs of both Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Russell and Jordan. The beauty of Changing Rooms is that audiences want to see designer’s think outside the box and not just furnish rooms with flatpack furniture, so being a part of this process really made me think creatively in a way I hadn’t before… now I’m fully equipped for when I renovate my own home!
One huge part of this production that was evident throughout, which also applies to all home makeover shows, or any TV shows for that matter, is that they can only exist with team work and communication. When trying to make the impossible possible and flip rooms in such little time as we do, to the standard that we do, it takes huge amounts of effort and planning (and paint spilling), which viewers at home don’t necessarily see or understand, this is something I will definitely take with me onto future productions.
What was it like to work for the channel/production company that hired you?
This was my first job working with Channel 4 and Shine TV and I really loved the experience. Taking on the reboot of such an iconic home makeover show takes some guts and comes with so much risk, but the way that everyone pulled together, in testing (pandemic) times really made the experience special and I cannot wait to see the finished results of it!
How did you get the job?
I applied for this job through Talent Manager and had an interview with the Series Producer, James Kane. It was a slight hybrid of a role as I had just started to dabble in casting but I also had previous build show experience, so I was lucky enough that I was offered a Casting Researcher role that would then progress onto Build Researcher on location.
Why do you love your job?
I love my job because every production brings with it its own challenges and experiences. I have worked on a few home-makeover shows now (which I love!) and it never fails to amaze me how quickly the transformations come together and I’m always blown away by the Interior Designers creations… especially Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s! I particularly love home makeover shows because you work with so many different people from presenters to designers to tradesman and everyone is working together to achieve the same end goal. On one day you could be pulling your hair out trying to find a specific chair that is stuck in a delivery lorry somewhere and the next you are hanging curtains and re-upholstering a chair, it’s so unpredictable but so exciting.
What is your top TV tip?
Be prepared to take risks and trust your instinct! One thing I have learnt over the last year is to take risks in the TV industry. I left a long-standing production contract that would’ve seen me through the pandemic, which was great security wise, but I decided to take a leap and accept a month’s long contract with a company I had never worked with before and it was hands down the best decision I have ever made… I certainly wouldn’t have ended up on Changing Rooms if I hadn’t.
‘Changing Rooms’ airs on Wed 18th Aug, 8pm C4 and All4