Aaron Goldblatt runs Metcalfe Architecture and Design in Philadelphia with his partner Alan Metcalfe. They design a lot of public spaces, and spaces for kids, including health care spaces and informal education spaces like museums and botanic gardens.
Alan’s background is in architecture, but Aaron’s is in museum design and art (he was a sculptor, ceramicist, and welder for years before getting into museums).
As an actor, it’s funny to hear their philosophies about their work. Alan Metcalfe talks a lot on their website about empathy, and creating empathetic spaces. Alan, on the other hand, is obsessed with the idea of play, and he incorporates it into his working process wherever he can. For him, that seems to mean approaching work with a sense of fearlessness, and also trying to find a place of flow, of letting the play take over and your getting your brain out of the way.
Of course, those are two of the most important elements of acting; putting yourself in the shoes of your character (empathy), and playing. I mean, when we get on stage, that’s what we call the thing. A “play.” We’re playing make-believe.
It was nice to hear that, even in fields as disparate as architecture & design and acting may seem, the goals are still to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and to have a little fun.
You can check out their incredible body of work on their website. Take a look at some of their work, some of it may even be close enough to where you live for you to check out in person. They have worked on projects all over the country and the world.
One of the first people I talked to for this show was Shane Portman, the script supervisor for the Amazon preschool show Tumble Leaf. Shane has been a huge supporter of the show, and has connected me with several of the people I’ve talked to since then.
At one point, looking at a long list of people who had worked for Tumble Leaf, I thought “Maybe I should stop going through this list, it’s starting to become a podcast of people who have worked on Tumble Leaf."
Then I decided not to worry about that, because I firmly believe in the idea that “every head is a story.” Every person you see on the street has a story and a history and an inner life and is worthy of your curiosity.
Today’s guest, Sarah Serrata, is a perfect example of why I made that decision. Not only did she work for Tumble Leaf as a producer for a while, but I didn’t know that much about her going into our conversation. All I had were a couple job descriptions on LinkedIn and a couple credits on IMDb.
It ended up being a really interesting conversation with a really interesting person who has lived, by my count, about 18 lives so far. Her current life sees her as a producer for Mattel, making the animated Barbie movies. If you respond to the idea of animated Barbie movies the way I did before talking to Sarah, which is with at least a little skepticism (which is also the way Sarah responded to them before taking the job), than I think you’ll be just as surprised and delighted as I was by what you learn about her and about what Barbie has been up to lately.
Beth Blenz-Clucas is a PR rep and Publicist working mostly with family-friendly musicians. She lives in Portland, but her clients and the work of her firm Sugar Mountain PR extend across the US and Canada. She represents many of the biggest names in the kindie scene, from The Lucky Diaz Family Jam Band, to Justin Roberts, to Raffi, to Lisa Loeb, to The Pop Ups, to Alphabet Rockers… it’s a very long list of really great people.
I talked to Beth via Skype about how she went from getting a Masters in English Lit to a 20 year career in children’s music We talked about the importance of knowing who you are as an artist, and about the importance of setting realistic, reachable goals for yourself.
Cheryl Capezzuti is a puppet maker living and working in Pittsburgh. She is also a sculptor and a painter and a teacher. She told me about how she was introduced to making giant puppets.
She also told me how, if you live in or around Pittsburgh, you can check her giant puppets out of the library. Seriously. How cool is that?
And she told me about all the things Pittsburgh is doing that make it such an incredible place for artists and families and everybody else.
Adam Berger loves storytelling.
It started with books when he was a young kid, and it continued with movies like 2001 and Star Wars. Then, when he was 12, his family took a trip to DisneyWorld. It was then that he realized, if only subconsciously, the power that an immersive experience like a theme park could have when it uses the power of mythic storytelling to make the guest the hero of their own story.
He’s been an attraction show writer for most of his adult life, and has had his own consulting business with his wife Julia, Berger Creative Associates, since 2007.
Adam has a book about the use of mythic storytelling in Disney Theme Parks called “Every Guest is a Hero.” You can find hard copies or digital downloads of it anywhere online that you usually buy or download books. Here it is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
You can also find Adam on his blog, at TheMythingLink.tumblr.com
This episode comes out on March 7th, 2017, which also marks the 20 year anniversary of Laurie Berkner’s career writing, recording, and performing kindie music for 0-7 year olds.
If you have kids or an interest in kids’ music, you already know her and her songs and videos.
March is a big month for Laurie, with fun stuff going on at the Laurie Berkner Band Facebook page everyday, leading up to the release of her book “We Are The Dinosaurs” on March 21st. You can also find info on her official website, LauireBerkner.com.
What do you do if you've just fallen in love, but you never see each other because your new partner works days as a session guitar player on American Idol, and you work evenings as a stand-up comedian?
If you are Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz, you form The Lucky Diaz Family Jam Band. Then, you get to work together making albums, playing shows, teaching workshops, and doing all kinds of family-friendly art. And, if that band is really good (which it is), you win a Grammy. Then you turn the band into a TV show, and you also win an Emmy.
During all this, in case you still have some down time, you also get married and have a new baby girl together.
If you have kids, you have probably heard Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. It is pop-based bilingual kindie music at its very best. Alisha and Lucky were generous enough to have me to their home one recent Saturday while they were still passing around the colds and flus that everyone has been getting lately. I talked to both of them about the band and elementary school fundraisers and Trader Joe’s for the first half of the show, then Alisha and I got into a little more of her background in acting, writing, and comedy for the second half.
Enjoy my conversation with Alisha and Lucky! You can find them on the web in all the usual places, including their website at luckydiazmusic.com.
Directing theater and movies and tv involves three very different skill sets, and Joel Zwick has not only done all three, he has flourished at all of them.
He started with the famous La Mama theater company, bringing their shows from the Village to Broadway and the West End.
He spent the 80s and 90s with Miller Boyett television, directing literally hundreds of episodes of some of the most popular TV comedies from that era.
In features, Tom Hanks convinced him to direct this little independent comedy, called "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
And since 2010, he’s been directing episodes of every show that you like on the Disney Channel.
All that aside, this is a guy who should have been on Hollywood Squares. He pulls no punches, he’s willing to talk about anything and everything, and he’s as naturally hilarious as the things he’s been directing for the last 40 years.
Many thanks to Marc Warren for the introduction.that lead to this conversation.
You can catch Mr. Zwick's upcoming episodes of "K.C. Undercover" on Disney Channel, and if you’re in southern California, keep an eye out this April for the play he’s putting up in Thousand Oaks, written by previous guest Marc Warren, called “Furniture.”
In this Bite-sized episode, We Bare Bears creator Daniel Chong explains how they found the voices for the three bears.
You can find We Bare Bears on Cartoon Network.
In this Bite-sized episode, writer Shane Portman explains how some people get into animation from art school, bBut some people get into it from… working in a chocolate shop?
You can stream Tumble Leaf on Amazon.
In this Bite-sized episode, animation composer Brad Breeck explains how he works with the creators of his shows to get the music ready for a new episode.
Brad makes the music for shows that you can find on Cartoon Network, Netflix, Disney Channel, and more.
In this bite-sized episode, Matt Craig, the producer of Wabbit, explains the difference between a script-driven cartoon and a premise-driven cartoon. He also explains the process of how a new episode of Wabbit is created.
You can find Wabbit on Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
In this Bite-sized episode, Danny LaBrecque from the online preschool show “Treehouse” talks about the importance of silence, and why we can use more of it in our media and in our lives. You can find Treehouse with Danny LaBrecque on Facebook or YouTube.
For almost 16 years, Mindy Thomas has been the host of “Absolutely Mindy,” first on XM Kids and now on Kids Place Live on Sirius XM radio. She’s live every weekday morning from 7am- 12pm Eastern.
She talks to kids on the phone, she plays great kids music, particularly from the “Kindie” music scene, and she facilitates and encourages a lot of wonderful silliness to help kids and their parents get through morning commutes, road trips, and any other time that the radio is on.
You can hear Mindy weekday mornings on Kids Place Live on Sirius XM radio, and you can find her on Twitter here: @AbsolutelyMindy.
Marc Warren has been at the center of kids and family TV for 30 years. He and his longtime writing partner and best friend Dennis Rinsler started out as teachers in New York. Then they started writing humor for magazines on the side,
which lead to writing pieces for the National Lampoon. Eventually, they made the move to Hollywood to work in TV.
In their early days, the duo worked with Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of The Brady Bunch.
Years later, they became the head writers on Full House, which was basically the Brady Bunch of the 90s.
For the last few years, Marc has run a program at Disney for discovering new writers called Disney Storytellers. The first Disney Storytellers resulted in the current Disney Channel show Bizaardvark.
Marc has a ton of great stories, he a very naturally funny guy, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.
Go check our Marc Warren on IMDb, and then spend the rest of the month watching all the great kid and family shows he’s been involved with as a writer, director, and producer over the years. It’s an amazing list.
Carly started out with a myriad of interests. Theater, improv, puppetry, clowning, pre-school education… and it wasn’t until she got an audition to host Sunny Side Up that she found the place that perfectly married all of those interests and skills she had been discovering and developing since she first auditioned for that production of Peter Pan as a kid in Delaware.
You should also follow the Facebook page for Carly’s upcoming podcast "The Kiddie Pool Podcast."
You can follow the kid stuff podcast on iTunes or here at kidstuffpodcast.com. We love iTunes reviews and ratings!
Thanks for listening!
Michael Cranberry is an animator on the Amazon show for pre-schoolers Tumble Leaf. The show has won multiple emmy awards in its first two seasons, and it’s something you don’t see much in kids’ TV anymore; it’s quiet. It’s thoughtful, it doesn’t go for a lot of jokes. It’s a simple show that is anything but simple for the team at BixPix to create.
Michael will tell us how he fell in love with the painstaking process of stop-motion animation, how he shifted from the horror genre to a preschool audience, and he will soothe us with the gentle baritone of his professionally-trained actor’s voice.
You can check out the first two seasons of Tumble Leaf on Amazon, and season 3 will be out sometime this year. You can find us on iTunes or at kid stuffpodcast.com.
Thanks for listening!
Eric Robles created the Nick show “Fanboy and Chum Chum.” He’s currently in the process of creating his second show for Nickelodeon, “Glitch Techs,” which won’t come out until sometime in 2018. Eric is a self-taught artist, and the story of how he got from the path to becoming a police officer to his first job in animation is an incredibly inspiring one. I’m excited for you to hear it.
Thanks so much to Eric Robles for that great conversation, thanks to Audrey Gray at nick for setting it up, and to the great Brad Breeck for the introduction. You can still find some Fanboy and Chum Chum video clips and games at www.nick.com, and next year you’ll be able to see Glitch Techs on Nickelodeon.
You can subscribe to this show in iTunes or at www.kidstuffpodcast.com. Thanks for listening!
Talent agents Harry and Brandy Gold tell stories of how they originally discovered two of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Sheryl Levine casts "Bizaardvark" and "Stuck in the Middle" for Disney Channel, plus several other shows for other outlets. In this bite-sized episode, she explains how her whole family was in show business together, and how it moved them from New York to LA.
In this bite-sized episode, Toca Boca co-founder and CEO Bjorn Jeffery explains what makes Tpca Nature so different from other kids' apps, including other Toca Boca apps.
Animation Producer Aaron Simpson tells us about his earliest experiences making animation.
In this bite-sized episode, Dr. Richard Kissel from the Yale Peabody Museum explains why a group of prehistoric animals known as diadectids changed the world in really important ways.
In this bite-sized episode, Dr. Todd from the SoCal kids' band Jelly of the Month Club tells us about the after-school program they run to teach film and music, Daydreamers Academy. Find them at http://www.thedaydreamersacademy.com/