Aurora couple takes house hunt onto TV
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News September 11, 2012 4:58PM
Realtor Brian Ernst shows Robert and Sarah Richardson a home in Aurora for the filming of an episode of HGTV's "House Hunters" to be broadcast Thursday evening. | submitted
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:05PM
AURORA — For years, Robert and Sarah Richardson have “trod the boards” in community theater productions from Yorkville up to Elgin. In fact, the couple met while performing in “Romeo and Juliet” with Batavia’s Albright Theater four years ago.
On Thursday, they’ll step onto a national stage by being featured in the HGTV hit show “House Hunters.” The episode, which chronicles the couple’s recent purchase of an Aurora townhome, is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. and midnight.
“When we were first looking at houses, we watched the show religiously,” Robert said. “It’s a great show for homebuyers to watch together so they can talk with their partners about what they want in a house in a safe environment. We applied just for fun — it was a real surprise when they picked us to be on the show.”
Their Realtor, Brian Ernst of RE/MAX Action in Aurora, joined the project with an actual TV performing credit — as a 10-year-old studio audience member on Bozo’s Circus who was chosen to help Wizzo the Clown perform a magic act.
“‘House Hunters’ must be a really popular show, because I can’t believe the number of people I know who are excited that I’m on it. It’s a bigger deal than being on ‘Bozo’ was,” Ernst said.
“I act somewhat because I’m a salesman, but being inside a TV production was really educational because it’s so different than I expected.”
Both Ernst and the Richardsons commented on how much time, work and organization go into filming an episode of “House Hunters.”
“We spent five days shooting enough footage for 22 minutes,” Ernst said. “Every scene was shot multiple times at different angles, which caused some problems because it’s not scripted, so I had to remember everything I said the first time word for word so I could repeat it the same way for all the other takes.”
“The producer was very happy that we’re actors, because we’re used to saying the same lines over and over again,” Robert said.
Sharing the stage with cameras and technicians also took some getting used to.
“The strangest thing we had to adjust to was not being able to look at the camera,” Sarah said. “You’d think that they’d want you to look right into the camera, but they told us to pretend that it wasn’t even there.”
The three had to work to make their on-camera interactions look natural, even when they weren’t.
“The way they wanted me to act on-camera is not the way I sell houses,” Ernst said. “I have a much more laid-back style when I’m showing a house: I pretty much just let people in and answer whatever questions they have. On the show I’m showing Sarah and Robert where everything is in the houses, which felt kind of silly to me.”
And while Ernst first met the Richardsons at an open house, it wasn’t the same open house viewers will see Thursday night.
“I staged the open house for the show at a rental townhouse that I own,” Ernst confessed. “My tenant has decorated it really nicely and she’s a huge fan of the show, so she was happy to let me use it to film that segment.”
Now that the Richardsons have settled into their new home, they’re not planning to use their “House Hunters” appearance as a springboard to stardom.
“I would love it if a Hollywood scout saw us on the show and put us in the movies, but I’m not holding my breath,” Robert said. “We’re not planning to apply to get onto any more reality shows.”
“Except maybe one of the remodeling shows,” Sarah added. “That might be fun to do in a few years.”