2020 was our first full year of operating as a venue. To say it was full of action and surprises (some good, others not so much) would be a huge understatement. We had tours, site visits, met amazing new clients and "friendors", conducted renovations, built the infrastructure of our new venture, and survived a global pandemic. Anyone else ready for a glass of wine and a nap? In all seriousness, we are so grateful to have this extended River Run family sticking with us through it all! One of the good surprises came as the year drew to a close. Our Director of Business Development, Bill Gilliam, got a call in September from a TV production company in search of a site to shoot scenes for a limited run series to be aired by a major streaming provider. A location scout came out to look around and said he would describe River Run to his bosses with one word, “Presidential!!”
Photo by: Hayes & Fisk Photography
That visit was followed by a (very long) month of silence, and then a flurry of calls and follow up visits, including one by the show’s 4-time Academy Award winning director. He liked River Run, but it still wasn’t a “done deal”. We spent the better part of the next month going back and forth in a negotiation to make sure the production company got what they wanted while protecting the beauty of River Run for our 2021 event clients. It was exhausting and nerve wracking, but we eventually came to an agreement that was good for all.
A shoot date was set for January, and Bill was either on the phone daily with the production location staff, or at River Run two or three days per week showing them around. They plotted each scene with incredible attention to detail. All of the location folks were incredibly nice, and ALL fell in love with River Run. They couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful it is. (We know that, but it’s always good to hear, especially from people in the TV world!)
There was no way we could have normal family life in the middle of a major TV production, so, just two days after returning from a family trip to Disney, we moved our family (including Abby) out of River Run for the week (partially due to COVID precautions, and partially for the director’s sanity!☺). And, yes, it was stressful, but we survived. Bill stayed at River Run while we were gone to oversee the whole thing. He described,
“River Run turned into a beehive daily. The place was buzzing inside and out with all kinds of people who were focused on their jobs. It was really something to see all of those people working together to make it happen. And they were all incredibly nice and professional too!”
Our preferred tent and rental supplier, Rent-E-Quip, was among them, and set up an awesome tent that took up most of our front drive circle. The tent was 40 by 160 feet, complete with doors, divider panels, walls, lighting, and generators!!!
Day 3 was the actual shoot day, and River Run was alive with activity from 6 am to midnight. Bill said the radio crackled all day, and as scenes were shot the TV production terms we are all familiar with rang throughout the house and over the radio “All quiet please...roll sound...and ACTION!” A long period of quiet was followed by “And CUT! We got it. Let’s get set for the next scene please…” When the shooting was done around 10 pm, the crew went into high gear and had all of the cameras and production equipment broken down and out of the house in an hour. It was Friday night, and everyone was clearly motivated to get out of there. Bill said it was a crazy sight to see!
Saturday was the final breakdown day, and just like that, we were back to normal with everything back in place, and all traces of a TV production removed from the house. Everything from start to finish went smoothly, and we are already looking forward to their return to shoot more scenes in March. Keep an eye on our social media from more details and pictures.
The whole experience reminds me of a wedding: a year of planning, 8-10 hours of set-up, hosting the celebration, and then boom, it’s over.
Although the TV show is our most riveting piece of news, River Run is still bustling along with property renovations and business as “usual”. Our Tuscan Ballroom will be ready to host elegant dinners and rousing dance parties by early spring. One of our high school part-timers, Nathaniel, has spent the last month exchanging every one of River Run’s 700 light bulbs for LEDs. A mid-floor bedroom has been transformed into the elegant Green Garden Parlor.
In closing, we just want to make you all aware of some fun opportunities we are offering for the month of February: Luxury Boudoir at The Estate, Personalized Proposal packages, and a Valentine's Weekend Minimony Special!