October 13, 2014
So as Allan Keyes explained yesterday, he had a bunch of comics on eBay and a producer reached out to him and asked if he’d like to be on the show. After he recorded a demo tape (in which he held the comics with their backs to the camera and I recorded him upside down) we were asked to come down to the store.
So for all you reality TV fans, including Hardcore Pawn, this is how they get those weird items. Most of them DO NOT just walk into the store, the producers seek them out. And the weirder the people, the better chance they’ll make the show. Why do think that in a busy store like the one on Hardcore Pawn people walk in the front door and straight up to one of the owners, who is not working but looks like he’s standing there waiting? That’s because he is waiting. The producers set it up that way.
But at least the owners appear on that show. Kevin Smith is nearly never at his store. (In his defense, he is busy with other things.)
We went to the Comic Book Men production studios, located right across the street from the store. You can walk right past it and never know what it is, since it looks like an old, closed restaurant. But inside, it is a hive of activity. In addition to doing all the production and editing work on the show, the podcast is recorded there too. If you are a comic book fan dreaming of seeing the inner workings of the show, I’m about to throw some cold water on you. This is a working TV studio, not comic geek heaven. Other than the comic book posters on the walls, this could be the production studios for General Hospital or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. It was cool to us in the sense that it is something we never get to see, but it isn’t cool as in you’d like to hang out there. And trust me, we did hang out there in the microscopic green room, in which there was a basket of Sun Chips and a couple of bottles of water for us. It was not fancy- two folding chairs and nothing else but the snacks. While we were waiting for our turn to shoot, periodically the camera man would pop in (for a camera test), a producer (to get us to sign forms) or an assistant (to take the comics away for some close-up and insert shots.)
Then it was time to go to the store and film.
Despite how they make it appear, the store is NOT open on filming days. Only pre-selected people get to enter. They pretend on TV that the store is open and people just randomly walk in with items to sell, but the truth is that the guys have already been prepped on what is coming in. They have done research online, they know what things are selling (or not selling) for, and have already researched the history of the item. The guys seem like know-it-alls on the show, but they’ve already done their homework on the items days before. And the banter while they are hanging behind the counter? Well, it isn’t scripted, but they’ve already discussed what they are going to discuss.
On way they make it seem like the store is open is by having paid extras in the background. On the day I was there, one of the extras was actually the mother of one of the guys, two were extras hired from a company, and one was me.
I was told to stand in a particular area (which was, luckily, near the counter where the filming took place so I had a good shot of getting on camera.) The only directions were 1- flip through the new comics on the wall or the old ones in the bins, whatever I felt like 2- don’t talk and 3- don’t look into the cameras. I more or less obeyed that one.
Before I go on, a note about the store. As you’ve seen on TV, it looks very cool. They have a ton of toys on display, and posters, and recent comics on spinner racks in the back. But when I was there, I got the impression that the store had been shut for filming for awhile. The new comics were in reality a couple of weeks old and bent and creased as if they had been badly handled by all the extras who had come before me.
So I was in one area and the two company extras were across from me. One was a business suit type who couldn’t care less about comics, this was just an acting job to him. The other was an old hippie with a pony tail wearing a Hawaiian shirt. He hadn’t seen a comic since he was a kid and was in such child-like rapture that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
“Whoa, whoa man, the Fantastic Four! “
“Hey, Batman! I didn’t know they still made him!”
“Justice League? Hey, hey, I remember that man, I remember that!”
The producers had to remind him to be quiet.
So filming got started and I flipped through the back issues because that kept my face toward the filming, otherwise all you’d see would be my back. Then Allan Keyes walked in and I had to keep myself from laughing at how stiff he was. While he filmed, as he described in yesterday’s column, I kept creeping closer and closer. The filming took maybe half an hour, with retakes and inserts, close-ups and better quips. Keyes had one funny line I cannot repeat not because it is unsuitable for television, but because his wife may not have the sense of humor we hope she has.
And then it was over. Keyes didn’t sell his items to the guys, but after filming the producer bought them from him for a pretty good number.
Then we waited for the show to air and we never saw our segment. I didn’t find out why but two funny things happened since then. Right after the third show of last season (the one we expected to be on) aired, the casting director called, said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be on the show? We told her we just filmed it over the summer and she never got back to us.
Then, just a few weeks ago, the same casting director called and said she saw our demo tape, would we like to be one the show?
Sure, love to!