Premiere of Encinitas TV reality show gets hometown applause

Premiere of Encinitas TV reality show gets hometown applause
EZ Cars 101 owners Gene and Karen Ventura are interviewed prior to the TV pilot premiere. “Life on the Lot” is a reality-comedy about the Encinitas car lot. Photo by Promise Yee

ENCINITAS — Classic cars, a red carpet and a searchlight beaconing from the La Paloma Theatre marked the premiere of the TV reality show “Life on the Lot.”

An invitation-only screening drew film professionals, city officials, arts supporters and family and friends of the cast and crew to the La Paloma on Jan. 10.

The pilot episode of the reality-comedy show highlights the zany adventures of real life EZ Cars 101 owners Gene and Karen Ventura.

In “Mondays are Slow Days,” Gene Ventura’s impulsive business ideas snowball into dilemmas that business-minded lot manager Linda Johnson and Karen Ventura wrestle to resolve until he pops onto the scene as things serendipitously come together.

The Venturas swell with charismatic charm and lighthearted humor. During the talkback session that followed the screening they shared some funny, unexpected moments that took place during filming, which could make for another TV episode.

The idea for the reality show came from friends who were amused by the daily tales the Venturas told. Karen Ventura started logging car lot stories, and connections were made with a production team to produce the pilot.

“They are zany, heart-wrenching stories that happened,” Francine Filsinger, associate producer, said. “You couldn’t make this stuff up.”

A skeleton crew filmed the scripted pilot episode within an efficient five-day shoot schedule, including interviews and pickup shots.

An extended two months was taken to edit and tweak the pilot to showcase the cast of characters that includes lot mechanics, staff and one-of-a-kind customers.

Director of photography and editor James LeGoy said the pilot developed into a more character-focused story during editing.

“It started out more humorous at first, and is a more solid story now,” LeGoy said.

LeGoy added the city of Encinitas is featured heavily in the pilot episode, and sets a beautiful backdrop for the story. Filming shows off local beaches, scenic drives and a horseback-riding arena. Also included in the pilot are drone aerial shots of the city.

LeGoy said future episodes could go in a lot of directions, and will likely focus on the car lot and people’s relationships with cars.

The reaction from most viewers was the pilot did just what it intended to do — leave you wanting to know more about the car lot and characters.

“There were funny cuts, it was well edited and well shot,” Bob Gardner, multiple Emmy-winning producer said. “I think it has a good chance.”

The next step for the “Life on the Lot” production team is to market the pilot at the NATPE television conference later this month.

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