Searching the USA for Tiny Homes

Shooting scenic video of Boston Harbor in 2015, part of my job as a cameraman on “Tiny House Hunting” as seen on the FYI Network – Photo: Mike Nolan

Exploring tiny spaces with a small video camera can result in successful TV. That’s the winning recipe for “Tiny House Hunting” on the FYI Network.

Imagine you’re inside a 300 square-foot apartment in an up-and-coming Boston neighborhood. Sure there’s not much space, but the price tag isn’t bad either. Maybe it’s just the place for a young couple or a successful young entrepreneur. Homes in Boston sell for an average of $542,000. This one comes in at $299,000. That’s just over half what most people pay.

A tiny footprint comes with a smaller price. So goes the building trend in tiny homes.

My goal as a cameraman is to make these small spaces look inviting while showcasing their unique features. Most tiny homes have built-in storage, compact kitchen appliances, and space-saving furniture, so capturing these aspects of the home is very important to my job. The goal is to shoot video of every possible angle. Move the camera using jibs, sliders, and gimbals. Set up lights and interview the potential buyers. Are they interested in a historic brownstone closer to downtown? How about a recently renovated flat in the warehouse district?

Our search for Tiny homes brought the crew to Flathead Lake in Montana in April, 2016.Shooting a scenic video near the Skykomish River, Washington. 
Capturing video of ceiling beams in a Tampa tiny house, just one part of the job – Photo: Kevin McKeever

Now, get on a plane and fly to the beautiful shores of Flathead Lake in northern Montana. Here, you’ll find several modern mountain getaways. You meet the couple interested in buying. You spend three days shooting video of three homes. You spend one day shooting scenic footage of the area. Then the process starts all over again, with new homes in a new city likely hundreds of miles away.

Check out my short, scenic video called “April in Montana,” shot during one of these trips.

To say that property hunting shows are formulaic is correct, but to assign negative connotation misses the point completely. These shows are brain candy at the best, and real estate porn at the worst. Give me a job making a beautiful TV show about homes in the mountains or near a beautiful beach, and I’ll give you a great piece of camerawork.

String several of these shows back-to-back on a major network, and you’ve got a binge-worthy block of entertainment that keeps demand for this genre of TV going.

Historic brownstones, a.k.a. tiny homes, are prolific in the downtown Boston area.

Director Kelly Ulmer and Director of Photography Mike Nolan shoot a scene in San Diego.

My trusty Canon 5D and I relax after a long day shooting architecture.

The crew conducts an interview in the backyard of a Kansas City tiny home.

Algiers Crop3The New Orleans skyline along the Mississippi River is an amazing timelapse location.