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How do I get a job as a Muppeteer?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Fozzie Bear, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. spcglider

    spcglider Member

    Well, one can always take a lesson from Jim Henson.

    Start small. Local TV.

    Do whatever it takes to bring in the dough... industrial videos, commercials, etc.

    Establish a reputation. Work up in the television ranks.

    Eventually you will have a functional company that can support you and many others. But don't expect it to be anything less than a 10 year investment before you get to where you want to be.

    Sadly, most of us have already invested that kind of time in careers outside of puppetry just to pay the bills. I know that's the conundrum I'm facing. Without an existing superstructure to fit ourselves into, it will mean starting at square one. I'm 39... square one was a LONG time ago.

    But I continue to work on it. I refuse to let the dream go.

    -Gordon
  2. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I agree, Gordon. Of course, you can also get a website and start doing some kind of web episodes. A few folks here at MC already do that.

    I wouldn't doubt if in the next 10-15 years that print, movies and tv ended up digitized for computer usage exclusively.

    But, hope not.
  3. spcglider

    spcglider Member

    I hope not too.

    Reading posts on the computer is taxing enough on these old eyes! ;)

    But I can't imagine trying to read a whole novel from a lit CRT or LC screen! :concern:

    -Gordon
  4. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I agree. I can see up close fine, it's way off I cannot see good; and when I do all the paperwork and computer work that I do it only makes things worse for my eyes.

    I love books and comic books, though, because I have something I can hold in my hands and own. I love stuff that goes on DVD or VHS because I own that, too, and can watch it whenever. When it's on the net you can only own it and see it until something crashes, or the ISP closes it down, or something.

    I don't look forward to the means of entertainment in the future being all digitally spun to us in airwaves.

    And there goes my eyesight now. Right out the door...
  5. mummytomb

    mummytomb Member

    Come on, Guys! by then we'll all have new eyes where the picture will be broadcast directly. You'll see it all in three dimensions.

    People will rob your house while you're sitting on the sofa watching Cotterpin cry about not belonging...
  6. ReneeLouvier

    ReneeLouvier Active Member

    I laughed out loud when I read that. I'm still laughing! :)

    Yeah, it does take a great deal of work to get into it. I'm still struggling to get my church to take me seriously when I go to do small things with them. The kids don't appreicate me, I understand that. It's still rude....but...their kids, what can you expect in this day and age??

    But the adults? The sunday school teachers? One of them point-blank told me,

    "Puppets are crap. They don't teach the kids anything, and it takes up time to do this kind of thing, and puppeters ask for WAY too much money to do this s****y thing, you know."

    A few things really bothered me when I heard her say that to me. For one, we're in CHURCH. She's a Sundayschool Teacher for gosh sakes!! And I'm not even asking for anything at all!! Just let me get the material (the lesson) a week ahead is the only thing I ask. That's all. Then to top it all off, that day, during the lesson one of the kids ripped of Tina's arm during the performance. I can't see outside of this tiny little box they put me in to do the performance..so I couldn't even see the kid come near me. And..the kid took her arm with her.

    So...yeah. Puppetering is hard, as we all know. Takes a whole lot of work....*looks at Tina beside her, minus one arm.* And a whole lot of extra puppets....
  7. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    wow thats a sad story on so many accounts. first you where in church, man and the passion for puppets has in most people just died. not here but the rest of the world. Pupptes are a great tool for churches i feel. I had the priveralg to start a puupet thing for a short time at a church. the Adluts wanted me to do it but really didnt know what they wanted me to to they would give some pointers about what they would like but thats about it. i Tryed to get other people involed to become puppeters but no one cared. i think it would be neat to start a grope for church puppeters give good storys maybe try to sell puppets sets and so forth. What do you think.
  8. ReneeLouvier

    ReneeLouvier Active Member

    I believe it's a great idea, Dwayne1115. Some people have just lost all hope on puppets in church. It's not that hard! I have an adult friend, who usually teaches the lesson, and she'll print out the basics a week ahead for me. It's not even that much to do! It's usually just the verses they'll learn, and a couple of other things, like the songs. We don't even use a script either, just ad-lib. Tina sings the songs, and she interacts with the teacher. The sunday school teachers switch each week, so basically every 2nd sunday, I'm not able to do the puppetering. >> Cause that one woman is there teaching. Oh well, the kids enjoy it. But yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with you.
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    There is a HORRIBLE misconception that puppets are solely "kids' entertainment" and you would have thought that with all of Jim's work it would have been an idea long lost, but it's not.

    Recently, I've offered Muley up for some events and the organizers are willing to let him emcee the thing, BUT they only wanted him for the kids' portion of the entertainment.

    Several places that Muley has worked in the past all seem to be pointed solely toward children's entertainment only, as if folks tend to think that family fare can't be entertaining to adults or you can't have clean fun with grown-ups.

    The only way these days to break the boundary and let people know you aren't a kids' only entertainment is if blood is spilled or someone cusses, and that makes me very sad.

    And about the sunday school teacher, I suffered through that in the past and she is the ONLY one in the whole church who feels that way, I guarantee you!
  10. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    you are right i rember i wanted to let the whole church know what i was doing because i had big ideahs for the puppets, like going to diffrent places to do puuet shows. Like childrens hospitals nusering homes and stuff like that. So i did a whole little thing behind the pulpit with my puppet. at the end of it i stood up and got a really good unexpected appladuds made some jokes and told evreyon my desire to really do a good job with the puppets. At the end of the service i had a lot of Adults come up to me and tell me it was the best puppet thing they had seen in a wile. I thought that that was a singe that i would have the support i flet i would need. two weeks later im all but forgoten about.
    On the point of puppets are just for kid i strongly dissagree to. i have been playing with this play kind of like a muppet thing where the puppets interact with humans to do a Christmass play. I have never wote it out though because i knew i would not have anyone to help do it or anything like that. I really thought it was good to.
  11. TheGirlIsABear

    TheGirlIsABear New Member

    I get to perform improv with a very sexy puppet. The moment adults look at the female puppet character, they know it's not entertainment geared toward their children. I keep the interaction clean with humor based on inuendos and it's incredible to see the audiences reactions. Adults see it as hillarious when they are FORCED out of the notion that puppets are only for kids by the obviously adult puppet. But then, on the other hand I want to keep the comedy clever; not too bawdy, slapstick, or raunchy. No. That's for "Crank Yankers."

    I think, if you have control over your puppets persona... make it a character that is appealing, cuite, and funny, but that demands a little respect when dealing with children so that they won't abuse you. Would those children in sunday school have abused or ripped off the arm of the sunday school teacher? Puppets are people too... well if children truly believed that, they wouldn't dis-respect them. It's a tough situation.
  12. Blink

    Blink Member

    Yes very true,

    Some people might say, "well some children push boundaries with adults/Sunday school tecahers as well."

    This is also true. But think of it this way. If an annoying child (young or old) still doesn't seem to listen to the puppet charcater, your character has the same options as an actual person.

    If a child keeps poking me and I have asked him/her to stop and they didn't, I would probably walk away from that child (of course some situation don't allow for that...but...). By simply saying that you (your puppet character) will leave if they keep doing the negative behaviour you will have set a clear boundary.

    If that child crosses that line, just put the puppet away and follow through with your warning. It is incredible how children can police themselves. The group will not be very impressed with that child. You can then point out that only positive behaviour will bring the puppet back.

    I agree with TheGirlIsABear though, it is a very tough situation.
  13. Rowlf the dog

    Rowlf the dog New Member

    Use contact cement!
    No these puppets are not for kids. You can find allot of information on the web. And by the way, puppet makers are not like magicians who wont share the :how to do this" answers there are no secrets because some day when you win an award and you say "I want to thank everyone who helped me get where I am." I will be smiling because I will know I was one of them.

    Check out Nick Barone's site: http://www.puppetbuilder.com/info/index.html
  14. Fuzzhead

    Fuzzhead New Member

    My own experience at trying to get a job with the Henson company:

    Back in 1995, I was going to school at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I was taking a class on animatronic puppet making, and decided I would like to do it for a living. Our instructor had some contact info for the Henson creature shop. I believe it was still in New York at the time. It may have just been a general phone # for inquiries at the Henson studios. Anyway, A couple other students and I decided to call and ask about jobs. After being put on hold and re-directed to about 20 different extensions, a girl just said to send a resume and portfolio of our work if we were interested. She gave us an address, which I have long since forgotten, and told us she would make sure they got into the right hands. We all stepped back, evaluated our talent and lack of experience, and quickly decided we weren't ready for the big leagues. A couple of the other students later did some work for Mark Wiener with the Wienerville stage show, but I never got any puppet jobs. And that's it for me. My dream of working at the Henson creature shop was very short-lived. I think a lot of people get so caught up in the dream of working for Henson, they forget to stop and think about whether or not they are qualified. And for anyone interested, here is a picture of my final project from that puppet class. At least it got an A+.
    http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h258/CMB_76/GoblinHead.jpg
  15. gfarkwort

    gfarkwort Member

    WoW....That's Pretty Awesome!....what all does it do? Do they still have that Class in Pittsburgh?....I am gonna try my hand at an animatronic character soon...
  16. Fuzzhead

    Fuzzhead New Member

    Thanks. Well, he doesn't do anything now. The foam latex dried out and fell apart. Now I just have the fiberglass skull with the eyes and the cables hooked up to it. When it was new, it had a working jaw movement, a back and forth eye movement, the nose had a sniffing movement, the eyes could blink and there was an air bladder in the throat area for a swallowing effect. It wasn't actually animatronic in the true sense of the word. There were no servos or anything. Everything was cable or wire controlled. Except for the air bladder, which had a long tube that I blew into.

    I'm not sure if the Art Institute still has that program. You could call them for some info, or check the website. Another alternative you might want to try is the Douglas school of business in Monesson, PA. They have a really good program for special effects makeup and animatronics. One of my old instructors teaches there, and has won an Emmy for his work on Babylon 5. You should check out the site
    http://www.douglas-school.com/pages/savini.html
  17. gfarkwort

    gfarkwort Member

    Wow, Thats pretty Awesome! the site is Sweet! Thanks for the Link, all the Student work is Great!
  18. jacobsnchz

    jacobsnchz Active Member

    Find the website where you sign up for the "AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MUPPET" show! :)
  19. Giar Fraggle

    Giar Fraggle Member

    Thanks for crushing my hopes and dreams. =)
  20. GabeFirestone

    GabeFirestone Member

    i'm only 14, so could i possibly get some some sort of internship? i'd do ANYTHING to even be the person that scrubbs the bathrooms at the studio... :) PLEASE pm me or email; me at artzykidg91@sbcglobal.net!


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