While the coronavirus pandemic has forced shows to halt production, the Property Brothers have found ways to keep their HGTV franchise going. The twins, Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott, have outlined their plans for the future in a new Variety interview, revealing that most of Brother vs. Brother Season 7 is filmed. They have also begun casting on Property Brothers: Forever Home in Los Angeles, and will only feature six families instead of 20.
Although most Hollywood productions were shut down due to the pandemic, Jonathan told Variety that construction never was. "It was considered essential for obvious reasons because we can’t have people displaced from their homes," he explained. "But really, it was a challenge for us. Do we pause the shows and leave these houses as they are, or do we try and get these families back into their homes?"
Casting for Forever Home began online, but the rest of the early process was normal. Their producers and crew obviously could not physically tour homes, so they used illustration software to create new design plans. Drew said the brothers could not "go back" to the "busier pace" they were used to when prepping the show. They also spent more time finding reasonable projects to take on during the pandemic while following social distancing guidelines.
"We’re trying to find projects that we can take on that aren’t so over the top or so massive that it’s not realistic," Drew explained to Variety. "Some of the renovation projects are going to focus on smaller areas in the home, but to be really impactful in those areas and to make sure our timelines can be fast." Some of the homeowners who agree to participate are likely allowing people to come into their homes for the first time since March, so the Scotts will be traveling with small crews, installing hand-washing stations, and performing temperature checks.
One big challenge is that some people who have the coronavirus may be asymptomatic. Jonathan noted it is hard to tell the difference between someone having allergies and the virus, so they are taking "extra precautions" to make sure no one showing symptoms is allowed to work on the show. "We will also have people re-sign affidavits every morning, to make sure that they haven’t attended large group gatherings, that they haven’t done things that expose risk," Jonathan said.
Group scenes will be filmed outdoors and everyone will be staying a safe distance apart. That means the brothers will stand far from the families. The brothers are also fascinated by how the pandemic has changed what people want to do in their homes. Drew told Variety some families have asked if they can design separate living rooms for children and adults. Others have asked for "storage solutions" and about home offices more often than usual.
The Scotts said they are producing more episodes voluntarily. HGTV did not force them to do so. They have months of episodes for their other shows already produced and their production company is editing remotely. Although the Scotts' retail business has been hurt by the virus, they wanted to make sure their production company employees were working. They employ 80 full-time staffers for their projects. "One of the priorities for us was to try and keep everybody employed," Jonathan said.