Volume 9, Issue 2,                                March/April 2005

As Seen on TV
It's Really too bad They had to cut so much.

Television Show's Use of Window Film Spurs Public Interest
by Brigid O'Leary

For nearly two minutes, Tracy Huston, an interior designer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, pounded on a window with a baseball bat before it broke completely. Yes, it cracked at about the 30-second mark, but that’s 29 seconds longer than many people would spend trying to force their way into a home. Unfortunately, time is money—especially on television—and less than 20 seconds made the final cut for the show. 

Recently, a question was raised as to how much exposure the window film industry was getting on the consumer market, and whether or not that exposure was positive or not. Other forums aside, the exposure the window film industry has received this season on Extreme Makeover has certainly been widespread and, for at least two dealers, very positive.
Glass Security LLC in New York, and Blackout Window Tinting in Petaluma, Calif., have both participated in rebuilds on the show and are reaping the rewards of being seen by 42.9 million viewers.

“The picture was so powerful that I’m getting calls from all over the country and more. It’s been a little overwhelming, but we’re having a great time with it,” said Marc Sklar, a managing partner of Glass Security, the security film company that applied the security film to the windows for the episode in which Huston was taped trying to break one.

If fewer than 20 seconds generated the leads that they have so far, imagine what the full two-minutes would have done for business.

Eric Lafranchi, owner of Blackout Window Tinting, and his team experienced the show from the opposite end of the spectrum. In the final cut, his company’s name wasn’t mentioned but he did get some quality airtime (roughly 20 seconds) featuring Lafranchi and an employee applying film to the door. People noticed and the calls, though not quite as many as Sklar received, have certainly bore fruit.

A Brief Synopsis
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition takes families in need and rebuilds their house. The families chosen are sent on vacation for a week, during which time their house is demolished and rebuilt from scratch. The design team, along with community volunteers and professional builders, has seven days to complete the job.

The second episode of the second season featured a family in South Central Los Angeles. The neighborhood is fairly hostile and Sklar noticed that most of the homes in the neighborhood had bars on the windows. That’s where Glass Security came in; they were asked to add security film to the glass on the house, which would allow the family living there some added safety without having to put bars on the windows.

Airing just a week later was an episode in which one of the daughters in the family suffers from polymorphic light eruption, an allergy to the sun that results in sun poisoning. Though the windows of the new house were Pella Architect Series® with low-E coating, the door originally chosen to complete the house didn’t have the aesthetic look the design team wanted. The decision was made to save the old door, refurbish it and reuse it, but in keeping with the family’s needs, the glass in the door also had to be treated with solar reflecting film.For that job, Blackout Window Tinting was commissioned to film the lites of the front door of the house.

It’s Who You Know
Because the need for window film was not foreseeable before production began, Blackout Window Tinting got a call from the show early in the week of the actual taping (i.e., rebuilding chaos). When the show aired, so did footage of Huston making calls to locate a company that could do the job. Recommendations by other local businesses that had worked with Blackout Window Tinting prompted a call to the company. 

“They called on a Monday,” Lafranchi said. “That week we were absolutely slammed at the shop. They gave us a couple of options for taking care of the work. We could go out for a couple of hours that [day] or from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Tuesday. We could do it on Wednesday, but they weren’t sure what time we could have. The best thing for us was to call the customers set up for Monday and see if we could bump them back a couple of hours so we could go out and do the work. We bumped them back about three hours and called the show back and said we could be there within the hour.”

(The viewing audience, in fact, was able to watch Huston take the return call and thank Lafranchi by name.)
Security film, however, was on the table for the Los Angeles house from the planning stages, and Sklar helped make it so.

During the summer of 2004, Sklar met Conrad Ricketts, a senior producer at Lock and Key Productions, which produces the show. During what Sklar calls the “what-do-you-do” conversation, Sklar said he was explaining his job to Ricketts, making it somewhat complicated. He later told Window Film magazine that Ricketts turned to him and said, 

“You mean security with no bars?”

“I didn’t like that,” Sklar explained. “It was too simple. But I remained silent, thought about it and said ‘Yes, security with no bars.’”

Two weeks later, a member of Ricketts’ staff called Sklar and asked if he were interested in working with the show. Sklar didn’t accept right away, however.

“I put the call off for a day, thinking it would be a pain in the neck,” he said. Instead, he inquired about the schedule and considered the offer overnight before agreeing to do the job.

Lafranchi also had some concerns about working on the show, but not to the degree that Sklar did. 

“The only concern I had was to make sure the customers we’d already scheduled for that day were taken care of,” Lafranchi said.

“It Was a Madhouse”
As Sklar and Lafranchi can attest, the show, in its entirety, takes place in one week—from the time the family is informed and the house demolished, through reconstruction and the family’s return. There are things that can be done, however, to facilitate the process and, for Sklar and his company at least, make their jobs easier.

Sklar and his business partner Mel Neulander flew to California and, along with master technician Hann Kim, applied film to double-sided, insulating-glass units before the show began taping.

“We were fortunate enough to film the windows during the manufacturing stage,” said Sklar. “We didn’t have the insanity of doing our job with the turmoil there [during taping and reconstruction of the house]. We oversaw the installation to make sure that it wasn’t compromised in any way.”

Lafranchi, on the other hand, experienced the chaos of working in the trenches with everyone else on the show. 
“It was a madhouse. We didn’t realize all these people were going to be working there,” Lafranchi said. Among those he saw on the site was his brother, who works for a heating and air-conditioning company that was volunteering time and effort to the cause.

Working in the “madhouse” also meant that while Lafranchi and John Crandall, his master tinter, had most everything they needed to do their job, they didn’t have the one thing they were most used to having and felt was imperative to the job: a clean room.

“We had a canopy tent with no walls and it was pretty windy that day,” Lafranchi said. “We didn’t want to put out a product that [wouldn’t] meet our expectations, and we wanted the quality of the job to meet their expectations. In the meantime, they [the producers and show staff] went out and purchased the sides of a tent that we needed and put down a tarp and made a makeshift, dust-free room.”

A Plug for our Sponsors
Blackout Window Tinting, an eight-year-old company that focuses primarily on automotive tinting used, CPFilms’ Llumar UV Shield to protect the teenager with the light allergy while allowing the family to retain part of its old house (a rare occurrence on the show). The show generated a flurry of calls right after it aired and though Blackout was not inundated with leads the way Glass Security was, Lafranchi said they did receive some good leads.

“A lot of our current customer base watched the show and the phone rang off the hook for a week with people who had [seen it],” he said. “We got about ten to 15 calls right off the bat, some of which parleyed into a couple of good job opportunities.”

Applying Madico’s Safety Shield® 800 (8-mil film) to the interior of the windows and Durolux exterior 4-mil film to the exterior, Glass Security gave the family security and left a positive impression on many who saw what the film could do.

“I’m very, very impressed with the product,” Ricketts told Window Film magazine during a telephone interview from a project site in Colorado. “I was very impressed with the company—they figured out the millimeter thickness they needed … everything.”

Though Sklar has reaped the benefits of being featured on the show, he is quick to share the accolades with those who helped determine exactly what the needs of the family were and which window film and attachment systems would help meet those needs.

“We couldn’t have done it without Carl Kernander, Madico’s manager of technical services and Hann Kim, owner of Song’s Tint Masters in Los Angeles,” he said. “These guys really worked hard to make it happen. We had no room for error. If we were just the slightest bit off, it wouldn’t have worked. It had to go flawlessly and it did.”

Stay Tuned …
With the great success of window film on two episodes, will we see more in the future? It’s hard to tell, even for the producer.

“I’m only about four weeks ahead of myself knowing the family and the house. It makes us crazy that we don’t have a month or two months of lead-time,” said Ricketts. “I’m sure there will be opportunity to look at this product and other products.”

Ricketts, who said he is always looking for new and different, unique products keeps his eyes and ears open all the time and is frequently contacted by companies directly that hope to have products chosen for use on the show. 

Now that the word is out about what window film can do, however, things are looking good for the use of window film in the show. Steve Joachim, design producer for the show contacted Window Film magazine to inquire how he might go about locating a window film company in Louisiana for a build taking place there a few weeks out, and left contact information should a company be interested in volunteering time or supplies to the show (see box).

For those who may end up on the show in the future, though, take heed: it’s as chaotic as it looks on television, and then some.

“It’s non-stop, 24 hours a day,” said Lafranchi. “At home, you don’t feel how under-the-gun things really are. There were ‘all-star’ teams from different companies coming together to get this done on time. You see the final on television and it’s great, but you can’t appreciate it until you see it being done.”

Allergic to the Sun
Polymorphic light eruption (PMLE) is a common sun allergy that is more common in women than in men and affects sufferers to different degrees. As many medical sources indicate, PMLE is not the same as prickly heat, though it is often mistaken for it.

Symptoms, which can last up to one week, include a rash and small red blisters. The condition is not life threatening, but severity differs among affected individuals. Some sufferers are forced to live a more limited lifestyle than others, such as

Shelby Pope, the elder daughter of the family featured on the third episode (second season) of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC. Symptoms can manifest from exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays in any manner, including through windows and sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 25 can help some people with the allergy, an article about the condition on About.com reported, though even sunscreen doesn’t always help those who suffer from the most severe form of the allergy, such as Pope.

You Oughta Be in Pictures
Are you looking for your 15 minutes of fame? How about 20 seconds? If you’re interested in donating time or supplies to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, contact design producer Steve Joachim at 323/785-2283 or at 1149 N. Gower, Suite 100, Hollywood, Calif. 90038.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition now also has a “behind the scenes” follow up show airing on Monday nights, providing what may be another chance for window film companies involved with the show to gain some extra exposure.

Editor’s Note: Mark Sklar of Glass Security contacted Window Film magazine to say that his company was tapped to work on another episode of the show, which aired Sunday, January 16, 2005. The company applied security film to the fenestration of another house in South Central Los Angeles, wherein one of the family members was shot by a gang member and left paralyzed.                                                                WF

Brigid O’Leary is the editor of Window Film magazine.

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