Flour­town fam­ily to ap­pear on HGTV

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Devlin

ede­vlin@mont­gomerynews.com

One lo­cal fam­ily’s search for a va­ca­tion re­treat put them in the na­tional spot­light.

When Kevin and Robin Cot­tone, of Flour­town, set out to pur­chase a va­ca­tion home on St. Si­mon’s Is­land — lo­cated off the coast of Ge­or­gia — with a budget of about $300,000, they had no idea they’d be get­ting a call from their real es­tate agent ask­ing if they’d like to be on TV.

The Cot­tones will be ap­pear­ing on the Feb. 16 episode of “Beach­front Bar­gain Hunt” at 8 p.m. on HGTV.

Ac­cord­ing to the show’s web­site, “Each week we fol­low a fam­ily mak­ing their beach­front liv­ing dreams come true — on a budget! We’ll fol­low them on the house hunt as we dis­cover some of the most sur­pris­ingly af­ford­able beach­front lo­cales that prove you don’t need to be a mil­lion­aire to live right on the beach.”

The show, now in its sec­ond sea­son, has trav­eled as far as the Outer Banks, N.C., parts of the Pa­cific North­west, the Gulf Coast, Cal­i­for­nia and dif­fer­ent parts of Florida, to film fam­i­lies as they make their picks.

For Kevin, a lawyer, and Robin, a sec­ond-grade teacher at Er­den­heim El­e­men­tary, own­ing a home on St. Si­mon’s has al­ways been a dream.

“My par­ents live on St. Si­mon’s Is­land,” Kevin said. “It’s a place I’ve been go­ing [to] for years, since I was a kid. And we were in­ter­ested in a property, and we con­tacted a Real­tor about it.”

When they be­gan reach­ing out to their Real­tor, Judy Bal­lard, about pos­si­bly ow­ing a home on the is­land in Oc­to­ber 2013, lit­tle did they know that the net­work was look­ing for people just like them.

“At the same time, HGTV had reached out to all of the Real­tors and had stated to them that they wanted to film a show,” Kevin said. “So they were look­ing for a good cou­ple to do it with.”

Bal­lard con­tacted the Cot­tones and asked them if they’d like to be on the show, and Kevin said he thought it sounded like it could be fun.

Not five min­utes af­ter the Cot­tones gave Bal­lard the go-ahead to let the show’s pro­duc­ers know they were will­ing to ap­pear on the show that Kevin said the phone rang with the pro­duc­ers on the line. They set up a Skype video in­ter­view, where the Cot­tones told their story that was later pack­aged to­gether for the net­work ex­ec­u­tives to watch.

Gen­er­ally, the net­work re­ceives over 40 sub­mis­sions from those look­ing to be on the show and only chooses about 15 at a time, Robin said.

One week af­ter their in­ter­view, they got the call that they had been selected, and two months later, Kevin and Robin along with their son Corey, 16, and daugh­ter Al­lie, 13, trav­eled down to St. Si­mon’s to be­gin film­ing for the next four days. Their son Brendan, 19, a stu­dent at Tem­ple Univer­sity, couldn’t make it, they said.

The long 12- to 14-hour days were tough, but fun, they said, adding that the pro­duc­ers wound up with about 26 hours of footage that had to be edited down to 23 min­utes.

“It was a lot of work,” Robin said, laugh­ing.

“There’s stuff you don’t re­al­ize that you ba­si­cally have to do ev­ery­thing three times,” Kevin said. “The sound guy, ev­ery bit of back­ground sound, he picks it up. And if there’s back­ground sound, they ba­si­cally stop it, and you

have to do it again.”

“We’re out­side, a plane was fly­ing by or a dog was bark­ing, ‘stop,’” Robin said. “So it was very te­dious. It was ex­cit­ing but te­dious.”

The first two film­ing days were spent look­ing at the four prop­er­ties.

“It was sur­real,” Kevin said. “I’ll put it that way. When we did the de­ci­sion scenes, when Robin and I talked about the prop­er­ties, about what we liked and didn’t like about the property, or when we filmed a scene where we met the Real­tor and told her which property that we selected, we did that in pub­lic. So there were people around, and they’re film­ing us with their iPhones. I’m like, ‘Don’t waste your bat­tery.’”

“If they think we’re some­body fa­mous, they’re go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed,” Robin said laugh­ing. “We’re not.”

The last two film­ing days were spent do­ing fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties in and around St. Si­mon’s, in­clud­ing bike rides, trips to the beach and a ride on shrimp­ing boat. The footage had to look like it was tak­ing place in the sum­mer, so ev­ery­one pre­tended by dress­ing in shorts and Tshirts, de­spite the chilly tem­per­a­tures in the 50s.

Af­ter film­ing was done and the Cot­tones came home, they said they were happy with their pick and couldn’t wait to see how it all turns out when the show pre­mieres.

“We have no idea what they put in and how it’s all edited,” Robin said. “We’ll see it for the first time with ev­ery­one else.”

Fol­low Eric Devlin on Twit­ter @Eric_Devlin.

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