Back in the summer of 2017 hanging out with some friends having a few drinks and laughing about how funny we are and that we should have a tv show. Fast forward to the next morning and we got an email from a TV producer wondering if we would be interested in taking part in a reality show based on custom terrariums and reptiles. My first thought that this must be a joke, but after doing a little research Matador Content turned out to be a legit company with a few well known shows one of them being Lip Sync Battle. I replied to them saying we were interested not knowing what might happen. I had an initial call with the producer to see if they were in fact interested in us and from there, we were set up to do a skype call with them. It must have went well as they decided they were going to fly out and film us working at the shop and the intent was to present a sizzle reel to Animal Planet in the hopes that they would buy the rights to the show.
About a month went by to set up who I thought would be good employees for the show. At the time I only had myself, 2 production employees, and a book keeper. I had brought on my good friends Jim Dyke and Chris Stinson as part of the Skype call and had also asked Jason Clevett, Lucas Neter and Tyrone Smith, and my family to be part of the pitch. All had different aspects that we felt would be a good fit for the show. None of us really had any experience on TV and even less of an idea of what they wanted from us or how to prepare. It was really nerve wracking knowing that we had this one in a million chance, but no idea on what it would take to make this dream a reality. The production crew came all the way from California, and the intent was to film us working in the shop, interacting with each other and show our genuine love for reptiles. The later part was easy! We are a fun loving crew and don’t try to take life too seriously. We also needed to showcase our cage building skills so we had decided to build a huge naturalistic terrarium for the shop to showcase our abilities. Most of this pitch video was interview based with us as well as building caging at the shop. Once that was done it was up to the production team to polish the footage they had got and take it down to about 5 minute pitch video. That took another month, and we were amazed to finally see it, and realize how much footage went into a 5 minute clip. From there it was pitched to the network, and they were initially interested but wondered if we could put our money where our mouth was and actually build a crazy one of a kind build. Weeks earlier they had tasked me to come up with a few renderings of money is no concern crazy builds that we could showcase as potential builds. One was a Game of Thrones pool table terrarium, and the other was a Jurassic park themed build.
A month or so later we were contacted again and were told the network was interested in funding another video to showcase the crew and our skills. This meant we needed to up our game and really prove that we could do what we said we could. We tweaked the people who were involved to now include Rachel Bergsma, and Chance Johnson who was initially hired to help as a production assistant, and Kyle Macdonald who was my production employee at the time. Of course the one build I threw out but really didn’t want to do was the pool table build. I’ve never built a pool table so this was going to get interesting. It took many hours, many sleepless nights, and over 200hrs of footage with 2 cameras, but we were able to pull off an actual 25 minute pilot episode for the show which was now being called Scaled.
After what seemed like forever we finally got a call that Animal Planet loved what they saw and offered a contract for 10 episodes. One all the contracts were reviewed and signed Matador Content was tasked with assembling a film crew. We got really lucky and our crew was headed by Pete Delasho who has many tv credits to his name and he was seemingly able to gather his A team of Camera Men, Camera Assistants, Production assistants etc etc from Calgary and all over the US.
Filming started on May 8, 2018 and we went all the way till August 23, 2018 working many nights through the night to get each of the builds done in time for the reveal. The crazy thing about reality tv is what all has to happen behind the scenes. Most reality tv shows function with a ghost crew working through the nights to complete projects on time while the “cast” do on camera work. That wasn’t the case for us as no one that we could find was able to build on the fly knowing reptile requirements as well as vast woodworking knowledge. That meant that we would film scenes during the day while trying to work as much as we could, and then really getting down to work in the evenings when the cameras weren’t around. It was tons of fun, but we basically lived at the shop, and lived off of maybe a couple of hours sleep each night, and lots and lots of energy drinks.
There was many ups during the filming process and many downs as well. It was a rollercoaster of emotions during filming especially for me as we tried our best to keep the business operational during filming as much as we could, and I wanted to make sure the business was portrayed in a positive light as at the end of the day regardless of tv I still have a business that lives by its reputation and I wanted to make sure that continued. At the end of it all I think we as a team did an amazing job with what we produced and I was amazed at how quick we were able to produce the builds we did.
Filming wrapped August 23, 2018, and on the 24th the first episode aired in the US on Animal Planet. What a rush to see all our hard work come to life! We luckily got an advanced copy being in Canada so we could have a private screening party and show our friends our amazing show. All said and done it has aired in just under 200 countries. Not bad for a company that started in my basement.
As soon as the show wrapped the film crew packed up all their equipment and moved on to their new projects aside from some interview segments they still needed. It was so quiet in the shop once they left and as much as all of us were excited for a bit of a break, a week later we were all talking about hoping we got to do it again, and how much better a second season could be with our new knowledge of the year before. It took a while for Animal Planet to reach out to production and discuss a potential season 2. This went on for quite a while even to the extent that I had to extend my contract dates to give them more time to try and hash out a new deal. Unfortunately during this time Animal Planet change direction of their network and cancelled all of their build shows. We were pretty disappointed knowing what we created, but we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to show the world what we do and pass on our love of all things scaly and creepy crawly. We hope in the future to get another opportunity. Thanks to all our friends for watching, messaging us, and showing us you loved our show!