There’s nothing about the outside of Rob Forde’s house in southern Chilliwack that sets it apart from those of his neighbours’. Yet, if a visitor to Forde’s home were to go around the side and enter through the back door, they’d be instantly transported across time to various decades throughout modern and ancient history.
Upon walking through the entryway, one of the first things that may catch a guest’s eye is The Bomb Shelter, an area directly across from the door that’s been creatively decorated to look like a 1940s bar, complete with its own incoming mustard gas canister. Or perhaps it’ll be the newly completed Houdini pinball cage that will distract and delight those entering what Forde has dubbed “Doc Studio.”
“The basement acts like my resume,” said Forde. “And my goal when people (enter Doc Studio) is to help them figure out what they like,”said Forde as he sat near to what used to be his Montreal, Quebec scene, complete with the wooden shinny boys in Canadiens jerseys he carved with a chainsaw.
This isn’t ”just about the creating and the building,” continued Forde about Doc Studio. “It’s the picking, the searching for treasures. Finding those cool things, whether it’s at an garage sale, an auction, or whatever. I’m always on the hunt and it’s a good day when you come home with something fun.”
Forde, who’s quite literally a very handy man, has been a practicing doctor of chiropractic for more than three decades, however, during many of those years, he was also a well-known competitive chainsaw artist.
And now that he’s begun fixing up spaces creatively during his semi-retirement, the doctor’s latest artistic hobby may have lead him all the way to Hollywood.
“I didn’t ask specifically how they found me, but I‘m assuming it was from (The Progress) article,” explained Forde.
Last July, as word spread about the doctor who was remaking basement spaces into immersive scenes, Forde was featured in the newspaper’s Scene & Heard section. A few months later, he opened his email and found a letter from Brian Catalina Entertainment asking if he’d be interested in hosting his own reality show.
“It caught me out of the blue and I was flabbergasted,” said Forde. “It was two different TV producers from L.A. that contacted me and said, ‘We’re interested in doing a television show about what you’re doing.’”
Although the offer was unexpected, Forde says he was intrigued and wanted to hear more. “So from there we had a couple of Skype interviews … and then they had us do a photo shoot down here, which we (then) sent to them.
“They edit down the Skype interview and the photos and send that out,” explained Forde. “They’re looking for a network to pick it up.”
Brian Catalina Entertainment is the idea-maker behind several popular reality shows, including Swamp People, which is going into its ninth season, The Raft, and Ultimate Survival Alaska.
“Their role, if I’m understanding correctly, is to be the middle man and get a cut of the action,” continued Forde. “If their idea of The Basement Doctor, which is the title of the show, takes hold, then the network probably pays them (something for the show’s rights).”
Talking about the process up to this point, the semi-retired chiropractor laughs when explaining how one of the producers didn’t quite understand the concept because of where he grew up. “He’s from Florida, and they don’t have basements in Florida,” said Forde.
“But the other producer totally got it because he’s from somewhere up north where they have basements. He said it’s going to be so cool because everyone’s basements are just a mess, and if you can turn it into something special, the transformation would be fun to (watch).”
Although he doesn’t know for sure which networks have been pitched his show, Forde says he guesses it’s gone to stations like Home and Garden TV (HGTV) or the Do It Yourself Network (DIY).
As for how the actual show would play out, much of that’s still based on guesswork as well. “They didn’t give us too much information other than I’d be the host and (my wife) would be helping me.
“I’m assuming they’d provide me with a crew … so it only takes a week or two to do a basement. Then they just film the process, edit it down, and there’s the show. But again, it’s all new to me,” said Forde.
Signed into a nine-month contract, Forde says it isn’t so much about if the show will take place, but rather when the show will take place.
|Rob Forde doesn’t only do large spaces, the talented chiropractor also does small spaces that pack a large emotional punch, like this space he created to commemorate his father and the family’s horse farm. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress)|
“I’m not even sure if they’ll say no, I think it’s more of a case of waiting until,” said Forde.
“If enough time went by I would eventually assume that it’s probably not going to happen, but then a year from now it could pop up again. The concept is out there, so all it takes is somebody in some office somewhere to like it, and if they like a doctor doing people’s basements, then you’ve got a show!”
“In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen!’ I just don’t know how soon.
“It’s like fishing, I’m betting (the entertainment company has) cast a lot of lines … and if just one of them bites, they’ve got some money coming in.”
“But if it doesn’t happen, that’s (okay, too),” said Forde. “As long as I’ve got people wanting me to help them with their spaces here in Chilliwack, that’s all I really want anyway. My main objective in all of this is to let people know this exists,” said Forde. “If they don’t know it exists, they can’t find it.”
However, at the end of the day, Forde says it’s all about “bringing people (and families) together and helping them feel proud of space when friends come over” and he’ll be happy to achieve that anyway he can.
Stay tuned to The Progress learn more about when Chilliwack’s Basement Doctor will begin making house calls and transforming unused spaces into beloved places.