As series producer of Logie-winning reality TV show The Block, you would think Anna Scarff would have had her fill of renovating. But you’d be wrong. As the current series airs, she’s renovating her home at Rye on the Mornington Peninsula.
“I hired a jackhammer from Kennards Hire to work on a big concrete slab in my backyard,” she says.
“Sebastian was advising me on the right size to use and how to use it properly.”
‘Sebastian’ is Sebastian Anastasi, the Kennards Hire staffer sometimes seen in the background on the renovation show as he advises contestants on correct tool use. Kennards Hire is exclusive supplier of hire equipment to The Block and has been for years.
The current series sees contestants renovating The Gatwick, a rundown hotel in the Melbourne seaside suburb of St Kilda. Since the 1950s The Gatwick offered discount accommodation, attracting a colourful bunch of tenants in what is already a colourful neighbourhood. Now it’s being transformed into luxury apartments.
Going beyond the call of duty
Kennards Hire is on call 24/7 to provide whatever the contestants need, a relationship that goes beyond the call of duty. Scarff says if Kennards Hire is called up to help one couple, while onsite they visit every other couple to see if they need anything.
“Sebastian from Kennards Hire was there so much that I thought he was a contestant for the first couple of weeks,” Scarff admits.
“He was amazing, because Kennards Hire had to supply so many things; for example, the heaters to dry the plaster and the paint, because we need to finish the rooms in six days. Sebastian was changing the gas bottles on all those heaters constantly. But then he would organise truck hire as well.”
Fitting in to a complex project
The logistics of filming The Block are mind-boggling. Some 100 hours of video is taped for each episode.
“Every day on the site there are probably five producers, five camera operators and sound recordists. There are also three camera and sound assistants to mic everybody up, because in order to hear the contestants and anyone who’s on camera they need to be wearing a radio microphone,” she says.
“That’s probably around 100 people on site. Plus, the camera operators use GoPros to get all those amazing shots: setting them up on jackhammers or inside a cupboard for when the judges open the door. They’re filming 12 hours a day from six in the morning to nine at night, then there’s someone there overnight.”
Equipment hire only the start
Kennards Hire’s role on The Block is about much more than equipment hire. A big part of projects like The Block is expertise and industry knowledge – suggesting the best equipment for the job and giving tips about its correct use.
One of the contestants, Norm, was keen to use a plasterboard sander so Sebastian spent an hour training his partner Jess, talking her through the product to make the couple’s job much easier.
What sets Kennards Hire apart is the ability to tailor equipment supply to the needs of clients and projects, no matter the size. For The Block, a range of DIY equipment was required – and a lot of it. But Kennards Hire can also handle large-scale commercial construction projects with bespoke packages of equipment.
Scarff believes viewers love the show, now in its 14th season, because it’s about the pursuit of the Australian Dream.
“Everybody wants to build a house, everybody wants to renovate or update, and also because people love a bit of reality TV. I think people see the contestants doing things and then they copy them in their own homes,” she says.
“It’s nice to see what the contestants are doing, to sit around with friends and watch the show and say, ‘I love that backyard!’. It’s making people more aware of design, of colour, of where to put furniture. It’s giving people motivation to update their own places.”