We’ve been getting heaps of questions about our experience on HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters. It was a crazy #nuventure! If you haven’t seen it yet, there are more airings of our hunt to find our tiny house as Backpackers Go Tiny. The next one is:
For folks wanting to watch the show online, you can get it on Amazon below.
Like I said, we’ve gotten tons of questions and some friendly harassment of Adam’s “truck stop” shower solution and “Choose yo battles, Shuga!” And folks have told us, “Ya’ll are crazy! I would’ve picked the other one!”
We wanted to share the experience with you. It was one full of surprises and not what we expected at all. We signed up for a brand spankin’ #nuventure without having a clue what we were really getting ourselves into.
Take a peek into our Tiny House Hunters experience. Here goes!
What was your most embarrassing moment while filming you were hoping wouldn’t make the final cut?
That’s easy! The very first scene.
The first morning of filming, we met the crew at a campsite. We’ve never been on TV before and had no idea how things go.
For the first scene, our producer placed us in front of the lake. Then she handed us a cast iron skillet, eggs, bacon, and a metal grate. The grate was intended to put the skillet on over the fire. Then, she said, “Now, build a fire, make breakfast, and talk about New Zealand.”
“Okay! Lights, camera, ACTION.” Then, the crew fell silent, the camera was rolling, and all eyes were on us.
Cricket. Cricket. Blink, blink. We stood there like two deer in headlights.
What she didn’t realize is asking the Nuberns to make a fire is a tall order, without the breakfast or talking requests.
To understand the complexity of this, you have to first understand how we function as a couple. First, Adam and I are pretty outdoorsy and camp all the time. We even lived out of a tent for five months together when road tripping the US. However, we each have streaks of competiveness. Over the years, we’ve learned to build campfires in silence.
We approach building fires differently. I start with the teepee. Adam starts with the box. So if the fire being built isn’t successful, the other person always has critiques to give. Did I mention we were competitive? So after years of the fire causing arguments and snapping at each other with “I got it! No- I got it!” silence and giving each other space has become our golden ticket to enjoying the campfire.
So, we were already being tested with the first request.
Second, how were we going to build this fire? There wasn’t a fire pit. We were standing on flat, pine-needle covered ground. Thoughts started racing in our heads. "Where’s the kindling? We don't want to catch the whole forest on fire! How are we logistically going to lay this metal grate over the fire to cook the bacon?” Adam's mom was with the crew motioning to us, "Rocks! Rocks! Make a fire ring!" Well, we didn’t have time to talk it out. The camera was rolling and New Zealand was our topic.
Oh, New Zealand. Where do we start talking about New Zealand? We were there for five months with so much to say. Where do we begin?
My coping mechanism with the overload of requests was finding the path of least resistance. So I stood there and just started talking. Adam followed suit and started sniffing for some fat lighter to get this fire going.
What a bomb! The scene failed with patchy conversation of me talking and talking and then asking Adam questions without a reply. He wasn’t hearing me. He was focused on not looking like an idiot in front of our Colorado friends and getting this fire built right.
Sounds like thrilling entertainment, eh?
First scene: FAIL.
I guess the editors knew how bad it was, so they tossed it! Whew! Thankfully that never saw the light of day! You can only see snippits of the campsite in the very first 20 seconds of the show.
How was it? What was it like?
Exciting! And totally exhausting.
We had no idea how hard it would be. We were on set filming for five 14-hour days totaling 70 hours of filming. All these hours of filming resulted in an episode of only 21 minutes! That’s mind blowing!
We totally have a new respect for folks working in the television industry. They have to wear so many hats at once. The creativity was constantly flowing on set. They have to think on their feet, constantly communicate their ideas, and collaborate with each other to problem solve and capture each scene just right. Lastly, they had to work with us. Three rookies who smile and shrug, “Uh. We donno what we’re doin’.”
Our producer, Tiff, said, “My friend describes my job as a circus director babysitting kittens while spinning plates on my head.” I see the parallels!
We couldn’t keep up with the crew’s endurance, but their high energy was contagious and kept us going.
What were you most surprised about?
1. How hard our crew worked.
On the show, everyone always seems so relaxed while looking at the houses. Behind the scenes, the crew is working hard, long hours to get the right angles, making sure the story flows, and is constantly listening for barking dogs and planes overhead. We were amazed by all the hard work that goes into a 21 minute episode.
2. The waiting game to get perfect audio.
We had never thought about background noise when watching TV. We bet a quarter of our time filming was—“Wait, wait. A dog’s barking. Hold on- the motorcycle. Oh, here comes a plane. Oh, wait. Another plane.” For the clips to work smoothly in the editing process, the background noise has to be consistent. This means you have to stop filming to wait for the random fits of barking to stop. We didn’t know this! We’re always a-learnin’.
3. We didn’t realize how long it takes to film a tiny house.
For example, we spent 4.5 hours filming the outside of this cute shaker-shingle cottage. In reality, it only takes 20 seconds to walk around the whole thing.
However, if you think about watching the show, you're constantly seeing different angles of a scene: A wide angle of all three of us walking up to the house, then a view of our faces as we talk in front of the house, to a close up of Adam’s hand hitting the shingles, then back to a shot of all of us together, then onto one of me listening to my mom. One camera man has to get all of those angles. It’s amazing!
4. How many outfits we needed.
This was the most stressful part for us. We came from living out of our backpacks while traveling. Adam only had two t-shirts in his backpack (you can see our packing lists here). So, we had to be creative to have new outfits for each new scene of the show. I had to re-use my shirts and made a new "outfit" by changing my scarves. We had to get creative, because when living tiny, your wardrobes are tiny!
How did we get on the show?
We applied. We were sitting in our apartment in Thailand dreaming about finding a little camper to live in when we got back to the US. We were ready to return home to the states, but we wanted to keep traveling. Adam dreamed big and thought, “Hey! Maybe Tiny House Hunters can help us research what’s out there.” So, we filled out an application and pitched ourselves as going from “teeny backpacks to a tiny house.” We sent in our application on a Sunday night in Thailand and by Monday morning LA time, we were contacted and started an interview process. Our expectations of getting help with the research didn’t pan out, but we were pumped for a new adventure!
What were the coolest parts of the experience?
1. Working with the production crew.
Everyone from start to finish was so friendly and relaxed, but super on-the-ball and worked their tails off on the details. Their professional experience blew my mind. Our producer, Tiff, had worked on the Amazing Race, the Bachelor and on different Travel Channel series. The camera man, Shawn, had worked on COPS and National Geographic. I was star struck feeling like I was amongst television legends. So cool!
2. My mom’s decorating skills being showcased on HGTV!
My mom's an amazing interior designer and a HGTV fanatic. The first part of the show was in my parent’s house. It was pretty awesome to see her decorating work on HGTV!
3. Sharing the #nuventure with our families.
My mom was our real-estate agent and my dad jumped in with his “Oh, you are planning to have kids?” Baha! Dad, you're still embarrasing me!
Adam’s mom traveled to be on set for the first day with us, too. She was there watching us fail at building a campfire. And, Adam’s extended family threw a party to watch the show together.
After traveling for two years, it's been so special to spend time with our families.
How do we feel after the show aired?
In the moment of crawling into the loft with my butt towards the camera, all I could do was hope for the best. I had no idea what the final product would be like. Yikes!
The editors did an amazing job. We feel like the production team really captured us as us- our imperfect selves.
We hope you have a good laugh at our expense and have fun watching the show! You can get it anytime on Amazon.
We'll continue sharing our adventures of life living out of a 100 sq. foot camper. Stay updated below.