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Behind the Scenes of "The Muppet Movie"

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Was Once Ernie, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    There was indeed some scene witha camel. I work for a film photo archive and we have shots from the set of the Muppet Movie here and there is a photo with a camel in it. I don't know anything more about the scene or how the camel fit in but the picture is interesting nonetheless. We also have a picture of Steve Whitmire holding Fozzie which makes me wonder if he did the physical manipulation for Fozzie in a scene with both Fozzie and Piggy in the shot?

  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    There is an interview with steve whitmire on muppet central where he said that he performed fozzie in many of the scenes where fozzie and miss piggy appeared together, while frank oz dubbed the voice.
  3. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    These pictures...do you have a way to share them???
  4. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

  5. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    No can do guys. Posting these would jeopardize my job. They are also under heavy copyright use. Sorry :(
  6. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie Well-Known Member

    Part Three

    Well, as I pointed out, until I saw that photo the other day, I completely forgot that they had taken us onto a different stage with the oval painted on the floor and numbers for us to stand on. This was where we rehearsed while they were still lighting the set.

    Finally, they were ready for us on the set. We began with the rainbow scrim in place. Now we rehearsed for the camera. Jim had a monitor and anyone who was close to him could see it. Most of us could not.

    The first thing they had to take care of was to make sure no puppeteers could be seen. If someone's head was showing, they were given black hoods to wear. If someone's clothes were visible, they were given a black neckpiece. Luckily, being short, as I said, I didn't get stuck wearing a hood.

    Then, there were two important commands that Jim gave. They were "Puppets up!" and "Puppets down!" The latter was especially important since most of us couldn't see the monitor or when the scene was cut. A little funny side story... I got to go to dailies two days later when they screened all the printed takes from the day's shoot. Every time Jim said puppets down before the camera cut, it looked like a big balloon with the air being let out of it as all the characters sunk into the floor. It was very funny!

    I remember Richard Hunt asking for help. He was operating Statler and Janice and he said those were his two most difficult puppets to get on. Of course, once he had one of them on, it was impossible for him to put the other one on. I could see Richard where I was standing, but I wasn't close enough to help him.

    Someone asked in this thread who the main Muppeteers were operating and truthfully, I don't know. Except for Richard, I couldn't really see the others. But judging from that picture that was just up, I can make an educated guess. It looks like Jim is doing Kermit and Rowlf. Frank is doing Piggy and Fozzie. Jerry is out of the picture, so I just don't know, but I bet he's doing at least Floyd. I'm sure Dave is doing Gonzo and probably Beauregard. I recently got to talk to Steve Whitmire backstage at The Tonight Show and we talked about The Muppet Movie. He said he was pretty new and really green during the filming of that movie and was barely able to keep up. That's a long way to say I have no idea who he's working.

    Then we began shooting. Take after take... after take... after take. Jim and Frank would watch playback of each take and give us notes.

    I decided (on my own, I might add) that since I could operate Ernie's left hand and Bert was on his left, I had Ernie put his arm around Bert when he wasn't gesturing to the song. Of course, it's so tiny, even on the big movie screen, that you can't see any of that anyway.

    Finally, we got a few takes that Jim and Frank liked and we broke for lunch while the crew took down the scrim. We went back to the original stage and turned in our puppets and ate lunch in the studio commisary. Since I didn't really know anyone, I ate kind of fast and went back to the stage to wait for the others. All the puppets were there. They had built racks of dowels to stand them up on. This was my opportunity. I could have put on any character I wanted and not even gotten in trouble. But then I decided I wanted to be a professional and not look like a fanboy. So, I looked at a lot of them up close and touched a few, but didn't put any others on. Besides, it doesn't get much better than Ernie.

    I did, however, ask the person working Cookie Monster, during a break in filming while they were reviewing the tape, if I could put him on. Unfortunately, it was very hot on the stage and we were crammed together, so the inside of Cookie Monster (who after all, is one of the heavier puppets being made out of fake fur) was soaking wet with perspiration. But the cool thing I learned is that because Cookie has such a big mouth and no foam inside, there is a glove sewn to the inside of his mouth that you put on to operate him. Clever, huh?

    Coming soon: Part Four!!

  7. AndyWan Kenobi

    AndyWan Kenobi Well-Known Member

    What a great thread! Thanks, Was Once Ernie, for the great stories! I can't wait to read more!
  8. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Whoo! Wow! This is to totally cool! So Dave might have been doign Beau, which is why he s front and center in the shot, just in front of Miss Piggy! Whahooooooooo!
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Was that Picture from a storybook, or possibly a publicity photo?

    The picture looked too bright compared while in the movie the scene looked darker. the picture looks like it could have been shot at a different angle. The big muppets at the end look like they are farther to the right then they were in the movie. also, in that picture it is easier to see which muppets are there. If it is a publicity photo, then it must have been filmed at the time it was filmed, sinc emost of the muppets appear to be in the same spot.
  10. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    You ROCK! You just answered a question in my mind for YEARS and YEARS!!
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    In that picture, was the camel a real one or a muppet one? were statler and waldorf wearing their regular clothes, or were they wearing arabian clothes?

    In the Muppet Central Collectibles Guide, it is said that the Muppet Movie Songbook has a picture of them on a camel, as well as a Sam The eagle Sign, and it says that both scenes were part of the song Moving Right Along. I have noticed a line in that song that appears on the soudntrack that doesn't appear in the movie.
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    do you remember if jerry juh was a puppeteer in the final scene? after all, when he started working for Jim henson, he was hired as both a writer and a performer, but once farnk Oz joined, he performed less, and within a few years he worked exclusively as a writer. I think there is an interview with jerry Juhl where he said that he would occasionally perform in crowd scenes that needed as many extra hands as possible. if a major film director like john landis would perform in a scene like this, then surley a former puppeteer who was still involved with the company would.
  13. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie Well-Known Member

    The Guide is right. There are indeed those two pictures in the Muppet Movie Songbook. I just looked in my copy (which is signed by Paul Williams. I was his stand-in on an episode of "The Fall Guy"... but that's a WHOLE different story). It's so tiny, I can't tell what Statler and Waldorf are wearing... but it's definitely a Muppet camel.

  14. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry. I don't know the answer to this. Jerry Juhl is one of the few original Muppet people I never met. I even met Don Sahlin the first time I went up to HA! (It was Henson Associates back then). If Jerry was there, I wouldn't have recoignized him.

  15. Docnzhoss

    Docnzhoss Well-Known Member

    You mentioned that you recently talked with Steve Whitmire at the Tonight Show. What were you guys doing there?

    By the way, this is awesome stuff! Thanks a bunch for sharing!
  16. MuppetDude

    MuppetDude Well-Known Member

    It came from a great book called "The Art of the Muppets".

    This is one of the best threads I ever read! :)
  17. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie Well-Known Member

    I guess the word "recently" is relative. This was February, 2001. Kermit was a guest on the show. I just happened to take a visitor from out of town to watch the taping. Since one of the writers is a friend of mine, we got to go backstage after the show. Steve was taking pictures with people. I got my picture taken with Steve and Kermit sitting on my shoulder. That's when I got to talk to him.


    P.S. Er... Steve wasn't sitting on my shoulder, just Kermit.
  18. AndyWan Kenobi

    AndyWan Kenobi Well-Known Member

    That's good to know. If you can handle Kermit AND Steve sitting on your shoulder, there's no reason you couldn't have handled four or five characters in the Muppet Movie finale!

  19. That Announcer

    That Announcer Well-Known Member

    Hey WOE, you've got yourself a sticky thread, congratulations!
  20. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Just one of the simple powers they gave me!! :) I felt this deserved it so it would be on top of the other threads because, for reference and research, it's an important thread!

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