Thursday, January 3, 2013

Massive Moves: A Massive Hit

I started watching Massive Moves on HGTV in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.
After an episode of seeing an entire house get moved across a busy city or over a giant body of water and I really was awake.
It's good news Massive Moves is now back for a second season of massive moving --there are 26 new episodes packaged as two half hours every Sunday night at 10 on HGTV.
"We've really been startled by the reception so far," Clare Fisher of London-based Windfall Films is saying on the phone. "It all started with a previous series called Monster Moves which entailed moving an entire library or the last great batch of Spitfires.
"And then we wondered about humanizing the project. Why not the excitement and the sheer fear of moving one's own house. And all seen through the eyes of the owners. That added a different element, I feel, and the only problem seemed to be finding enough owners in this situation."
Fisher says the culture of moving a house is unique to certain sections of North America and Europe and  not to others. She lives outside London where it simply is not done much.
But the first three episodes which I've screened all take place in western Canada where that kind of super human project doesn't seem to faze people.
I mean why wouldn't someone simply build a new home from scratch?
Fisher points out in some situations it actually is cheaper to move an existing home.
Take the first new episode titled Lottery Home. An Albertan farmer has won the lottery and wants to build his family a new home.
Trouble is there's nothing actually wrong with his rambling home so he sells it for $25,000 to a charming young couple, the McKeens, who have been living in a trailer on a 20 acre spread a fair distance away.
Every hiccup along the way gets laboriously documented --you'll be on the edge of your seat with every lurch and unanticipated twist. And all the while CGI animation  from Fluid Pictures is showing the conceivable ways the house could be smashed to smithereens.
By the time the house's foundation has been dug up, the entire building placed on a lumbering truck bed and carted across the province and gently deposited on the new foundation the total bill is still only $130,000, far less than it would cost this family to build from scratch.
In the second episode, Titanic Townhouse, a 3,200 square feet home has to get trucked across Calgary because the previous owners have built a newer structure next door and need the land for a garden!
Think busy city traffic, agonizingly low power lines, tight city streets where the room for maneuvering is at a minimum. And watching tensely all along the way there's the nice couple hoping their new dream home doesn't wind up as a patch of match sticks.
Aren't viewers secretly hoping for that great catastrophe? Fisher says her four-year-old nephew claps when the animated shots of destruction come popping up.
The third episode, Coastal Cruise, takes a 100-year own beautifully crafted cottage and sees movers transport it through Vancouver and out over the water to Vancouver Island. The ferry captain has three located homes on his barge that day and he's fighting a huge wind problem from the get go.
Fisher says the first season one mover bet the owners he could place a glass of water in their kitchen and after the move it would still be standing. "And it was!" In another home the builder said to leave the cats inside and "they were fine except a bit put out by the motion."
Fisher says she wound up with a data base of 700 movers to rely on and it's ever growing. "They are telling me they can even move brick homes provided the foundation is strong."
This season MM will also follow the meanderings of a church and a historic house.
You want human inters?
 In Episode 3 a vigilant old doll stands by her twisted tree on her lawn and just dares the movers to cut it down --the moving home needs a few more feet of space to ease down the street.  Finally there's a compromise: some branches are sawed off but the tree and its protector are still standing.
The project is a Windfall Films/ Cineflix (Massive Moves 2) international co-production with Shaw Media.
Already a hit in Canada, Australia and France, Fisher says MM has "so far" has eight offers from U.S. networks. British TV prefers massive episodes--with the number now at 26 there might be movement.
"We get to know the movers, they are certainly characters, nothing fazes them. Their language is something else.
"Basically these are stories of how to overcome great obstacles. My background was nature series. Here I am dealing with a different form of wildlife."
MY RATING: *** 1/2.


Anonymous said...

I just caught the actual moving of the "Titanic Townhouse." I can't envision a scenario where it would be cheaper to move that house than it would have been to have built it on the property where it ended up. All the costs that had to have gone into shutting the streets down, taking down power lines, just doesn't make sense. Can you explain why they did it? I missed that part of the episode. Cheers.

Clare Fisher said...

Thanks very much for your comment about the recently aired Titanic Townhouse. The house that was moved was on the market for $2million in 2009. It was built to the highest of specs, quality fittings throughout with solid wood floors, marble fireplaces, luxury standard bathrooms and kitchens. This is one of our more expensive house moves, but I dont believe you could build a four bedroom, four bathroom house of this quality for cost of the move, and in such a short time span. Plus, the added bonus is that they have 'saved' the house which would have been bulldozed. Recycling at its very best dont you think?
Throughout the series we have filmed a huge range of moves from millionaire floating homes to some much cheaper moves - $30K-60K for a whole family home... amazing value. And I hope along the way we can entertain and show you what's possible for anyone's budget. Many thanks.
Clare Fisher.
Series Producer
Massive Moves