Sunday, 4 March 2012

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, dir. Constance Marks, wr. Philip Shane Justin Weinstein, st. Kevin Clash

Being Elmo tells the story of Kevin Clash, current producer, director and performer on Sesame Street and the voice and puppeteer behind Elmo. The film documents Clash's beginnings as a child inspired to build and operate his own furry creations, through to getting work on his local TV network and then on to The Muppets and working alongside his idol Jim Henson. The main inspirational thrust of the follow-your-dreams message, whilst well meant, seems a little unrealistic these days given the thousands of budding animators, musicians, and artists sitting up in their rooms right at this moment creating industry-standard-quality products. It's not as if these days we can just ring up the object of our inspiration (as Clash did with Muppet creator Kermit Love) and pop down to New York for a day's chat and free workshop. The documentary leans at times uncomfortably toward looking like a promotional film to shift more Muppet stock and a more personal approach might have had more of an emotional impact, but it's touching to see Clash welcome a talented and knowledgable 10-year-old in to his workshop and return the favour he himself was blessed with all those years ago, as he shows the kid drawers of different coloured felt and googly eyes.