Melissa Smith: interning on Love It or List It (week 1)

Back in October our NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students blogged about each day of their bootcamp training. The next step in the course is an eight-week internship on a lifestyle series. We’ve asked our students to write a weekly post about their experiences.

Melissa Smith, Big Coat Productions, interning on Love It or List It


Melissa has been a member of the Big Coat Productions team for the past five years. During this time she’s fulfilled many roles and is currently acting as the on-set producer for the Gemini nominated W Network series Love It or List It.

“The world of production is never boring and that’s one of the things I love about it. Each day brings a new set of challenges and obstacles and, while you may feel like you want to pull your hair out at times, it can also be invigorating and exciting. Especially so when you’re able to come up with a creative solution to whichever obstacle has presented itself. Working on a design/real estate show, it amazes me the array of things I am able to learn about. This week alone I discussed at length: asbestos; septic tanks; horse farms; antique shops; shooting schedules; network promo shoots; network notes; and adjustments to a rough cut. Never a dull day in the world of Love It or List It!

This past week, due to unforeseen construction issues, I had the opportunity to creatively collaborate with the director, host, construction team and our creative producer to integrate construction issues into our story line. This was done under a tight timeline in the on-set environment, relying on the expertise of our host and construction crew.

It’s thrilling when an issue is presented to the team and as a producer you are able to rely on the knowledge base of the crew around you to create a dynamic story point that can drive the arc of the show. I have the good fortune to work with a crew of people whose goal at all times is to create the best possible product (regardless of the time of day or difficulties we may face, and trust me there are always difficulties to overcome!). I have learned that no one can be an expert in all fields, and to never shy away from asking questions of the various experts to gather all the necessary background information to make the right decision for the show.

One of the highlights of the week for me was an impromptu location scouting expedition with our DOP Colin Evans and director Michael Schultz.

While filming we found ourselves concerned about a booked location for the following day’s shoot. I arranged a mini-road trip to scout out the booked location (who doesn’t love a road trip?). Upon arriving at the booked location it quickly became evident it wouldn’t work for our planned scene. After a few moments of frustration and concern for the following day’s shoot I was able to contact Big Coat Productions creative producer Lissa Fraser Kerr and get approval for a location change.

Now the real challenge was finding a new location for the very next day. Finding ourselves in a fairly rural location left us with limited options, who better to advise on shoot locations than our Love It or List It home owners (the family with whom we were filming) who live where we were shooting. The ‘home owners’ as we call them in the Love It or List It world were able to suggest a restaurant location, so we piled back in the car and were elated to discover the suggested location was perfect for the planned shoot. Problem solving on the fly is a skill I have come to realize is invaluable, and with each day of experience this becomes easier and less stressful.

I had the opportunity to review rough and fine cuts with creative producer Lissa. She has a broadcast background and provided a wealth of knowledge about what the network is looking for, the direction of new music techniques, pacing an episode and communicating the tonality of a new series to the production team (Big Coat Productions is currently filming the new series Love It or List I Vancouver). Through these screenings I learned that each person who views a rough or fine cut whether it be producer/executive/editor etc. will focus on different aspects of the show depending on their area of expertise (music, creative, technical etc.), and will provide notes focused on these areas. It’s important to understand the perspective of the person providing notes when making adjustments.

The week ended on a high note with a reveal day. Reveal days are my all-time favourite shoot day: a great time to help out the design team with last minute dressing, tidying up, see some amazing designs and to amp up our ‘home owners’ for what will undoubtedly be a stellar reveal! Reveal day is a great time to provide positive reinforcement to the entire team on a job well done, and it always is a job well done in the world of Love It or List It. The team never fails to deliver on the big reveal.”

About Love It or List It

Love It or List It is a real estate and renovation show featuring interior designer, Hilary Farr and real estate agent, David Visentin. While designer Hilary attempts to win over the homeowners by renovating their current home, real estate agent David tries to find them the home of their dreams. Once all work has been completed and all potential homes have been viewed, couples must decide whether to love their homes or list them.

NSI Lifestyle Series Producer is made possible by Program Partners Shaw MediaCorus Entertainmentand Bell Media; Supporting Sponsors Cineflix MediaPaperny EntertainmentFrantic FilmsRTR Media Inc.Big Coat ProductionsCellar Door ProductionsArchitect Films and Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA).

Leave a comment