For the past few days, seven people have followed me around the Midwest in three rented minivans filled with a vast array of production equipment — just to film me buying a hooptie. This ridiculousness is going to happen 23 more times over the next 4 months, as I recently signed a deal to create a reality TV show based on my stupid car-buying decisions. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you by this — especially since it all started with an email I nearly deleted as spam.
Once a YouTuber reaches a certain level of success, or even just one big viral video, they begin getting emails from people wanting to purchase the licensing rights of that video to play on other media. These emails are endless — and I usually delete them without reading. Occasionally, I also get emails from people wondering if I want some kind of talent representation, or if I want to work with them in creating a TV show. Sometimes, I Google these people — and most are fresh-faced recent college graduates and their "agency" or "production company" is based out of their parents’ basement.
So when I got an email from a man named Brandon at Brightbay Creative, I didn’t take it very seriously. Still, I Googled his name out of curiosity — and I was shocked to see his vast resume pop up on IMDB. His production credits included Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers and Storage Wars, just to name a few — all of which were shows I watched before becoming unplugged from cable years ago. Brandon is a car guy, and he apparently stumbled across my YouTube videos randomly.
We exchanged a few emails, talking about the concept of the show, and a few other details — but then the communication stopped. I figured Brandon had taken the time to watch a few more of my videos, and realized the massive mistake he had made reaching out to me in the first place. As it turned out, he was just busy with other projects. Eventually, he did make contact again — this time inviting me out to LA for meeting. I timed my trip with the LA Auto Show, and I rented a very used Tesla Model S, which I reviewed for Oversteer back in December.
The meeting went well, and both of us were very enthusiastic about the project — but there were still a lot of hoops to jump through. After I signed a holding deal with Brandon (which meant I was not allowed to develop another TV show project with a different production company for six months), he set to work pitching the concept to various networks. A month went by with no word — and I assumed Brandon was getting laughed out of TV executive offices after showing them one of my videos. I had spoken to other people in this situation, who had also signed holding deals, but nothing ever came from it.
But the delay in action was just because of the holiday break — and in early January, Brandon phoned me from New York City saying he had signed a deal with Verizon’s Go90 platform with the Rated Red network. This is an online streaming service Verizon has recently launched to compete with Netflix and Hulu, except it’s totally free to watch, without any kind of subscription needed. They ordered 24 episodes, and they were willing to give a very generous budget. This meant I had to get on a plane to Los Angeles again to negotiate a contract and to meet his production team.
In one swoop, the crippling debt I’ve incurred from amassing my current hooptie fleet will be completely wiped out — and the budget includes covering the purchases of 24 more cars (one for each episode). The concept of the show is very similar to what I already do on YouTube, except the entire concept is condensed into one episode. I will travel all over the US to purchase the cars I’ve always wanted to own — and after assessing the vehicle and negotiating with the seller, I’ll make the trip back to Wichita. Along the way will be some kind of pit stop, or challenge, which could include anything from a track day or just stopping to see the world’s largest ball of twine. If the car survives and makes the trip back home, my mechanic (The Car Wizard) will assess my latest purchase — and he’ll give me the good (or bad) news regarding its condition. I then have to decide whether to keep the car or sell it — but if I keep it, I have to part with one of the cars in my hooptie fleet.
I decided to start off with a bang for my first episode, and I found a fantastic deal on a 2007 Audi S6 with the Lamborghini V10. The challenge was lots of fun — tapping into the car’s rally roots — and, of course, I broke it. Throughout the process, the crew followed me around capturing all of the action, and helping me tell a great story. The producer running the show also has an impressive resume, which includes shows like Duck Dynasty and Bar Rescue. So clearly, I’m in WAY over my head with this project. Full production will start in a few weeks, and continue until July.
Throughout the process, I’ll still be making my regular YouTube videos — but I’ll be taking a break from the burger business I’ve been building for the last 3 years. I have no idea when the show will air, nor have we figured out a name for it yet — so if you have any ideas, leave them in the comments section below! Find a car for sale
Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.