Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Idiot Box

It was a slow Tuesday morning. I woke up late, shot out a few quick emails while eating my Cheerios and making lunch. On my way out the door, I looked for something on my iPod that would get me going. The Aquabats seemed to shoot me out of my front door. I began listening to the song "Idiot Box." Beyond the horns were some pretty intense lyrics that I never realized preaching the evils of television. I think this is particularly interesting since Christian Jacobs, MC Bat Commander and lead singer, is also the co-creator of Yo Gabba Gabba! The lyrics cite several cartoons popular throughout the late '60s and 70's. Perhaps Jacobs thinks his television program is more educational than those of Saturday mornings past? I know I like it! Whatever the meaning, the message of the song matches many people's thoughts about television. It inspires me to make quality TV that has a greater purpose than pure entertainment...even though it is important to have an entertainment outlet! Below are the lyrics. Click here to listen to the track. What do you think?

Now now now
I'm just a boy
I watch too much TV
Nobody knows, nobody knows
Casper the Ghost is so friendly
Nobody knows, nobody knows
Sitting in my living room
With nothing else to do
I think I'm going blind
Just like Mr. Magoo
I know every single ending
Of every Scooby Doo

Turn off the idiot box
It's a disease just like the Chicken Pox
Turn off the idiot box

Find yourself a partner
Turn on the television
And let it control your mind

Friends, Romans, countrymen,
I've got something to say
Nobody knows, nobody knows
Get up off the couch
Get up go out and play
Nobody knows, Nobody knows


Children I want to warn 'ya
'Cuz I've been to California
Where Mickey Mouse is a demon

Turn it off If you are able
Nobody knows, nobody knows
Take a pair of scissors
And cut off that cable
Nobody knows, Nobody knows


Developmental Profiles

I've been thinking so much about who my audience will be for this program and trying to do the best job at expressing that and justifying it in my story bible. I want to make sure that each element of this show is made specifically to cater to the cognitive and physical needs of 3 to 5 year olds...which will be difficult because there is great variation amongst that age cohort! One thing in particular that my year in a child development program has taught me is that developmental profiles are necessary. I was inspired by Yardsticks. Check it out...it's great! I'm currently looking for more information on 3-year-olds, but I feel like I have time and now a direction to do so.
I am looking forward to finding the perfect place in my story bible for this very important page. I don't think I could share this bible with professionals without it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Multi-Platform Approach

I've just entered the creative process for the upcoming series. Literature Review DONE, Story Bible due in May, internship over the summer, pilot shoot in September, pilot testing in September, subsequent shoot in October (hopefully), editing, music, research, thesis defense. Wow. That was a year...is this going to happen? Yes! I've asked several people in the business if they have any advice for starting the creative process. The general answer has been "enjoy it." I'm really taking my time to think things through and make sure my vision is clear before it gets passed on.

I developed a series of "I see..." statements. It really helped me clarify my objectives and ideas for the look of the production. I think it's also helping my advisor, Julie, get a better sense of all the circus junk that's been floating through my head for three years. While creating those, I thought about how short the program actually is and how much content could be shared on the web. It seems like a lot of productions have taken a multi-platform approach: web site, television program, iPhone application, Facebook page, Twitter account, community outreach, etc. I'm very eager and excited to see what kind of content is created specifically for the iPad. The Electric Company team has an amazing, very modern multi-platform approach. The press release describes some of the work they did and continue to do in support of the television program.

I appreciate the cyclical support that multi-platform approach has provided to the launch of a series: Website and social networking sites launch to promote show, show on television, show to support website and additional content.

So far, I thought it would be interesting to post content perhaps on a website about the following:
Circus Glossary
Specific exercises, movements, and tricks to do together with your favorite adult

Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship

It has been a very exciting and busy month. Two weeks ago I flew out to Pittsburgh, PA (one of my favorite American cities) to receive the Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship from the Television Academy Foundation. In addition to the amazing folks from the TV Academy (truly organized and looking out for our very best interest), I met some incredible people! Joanne Rogers was described to me as Mrs. Claus. She is so joyful and her love for the work that people are creating in Fred's name is infectious! I had a chance to finally meet Dr. Alice Wilder and Angela Santomero who created Blue's Clues and published all of their research which was very, very helpful in the academic planning of my series. Milton Chen spoke about creativity, education, and the future. He was truly inspirational, and his book is absolutely on my summer reading list!

I was able to attend all sessions of the Fred Forward Conference in Latrobe, PA, and saw some innovative projects that I'm sure we'll be seeing publicly in the very near future. The scholarship portion of the conference was very meaningful. Mr. Rogers has always been one of my idols and inspirations. To hear some of his former colleagues talk about how much he would have appreciated my speech and talking to me about my project really touched me. The big check (pictured above) made the night even more thrilling! I look forward to creating work that would make Fred proud and carry out his message to young people of subsequent generations. In the following weeks, I'll be posting tid bits about my project. The details of it will remain under wraps until it is complete, but I look forward to sharing the highlights!

Upon my return from Pennsylvania, I shared something special with my students, an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Many of them recognized him from the PBS website, but the program was still very new to them! They were mesmerized and completely silent for 25 minutes (which is a challenge for this group). After we watched, we talked a little bit about Mr. Rogers, puppets, and my trip. We made paper bag puppets that week and created characters. It was the highlight of my year! Thank you, Fred!