The story of the making of this music video began many years ago, when my sister, an elementary school teacher in Chicago, asked my wife and I to write a rap for her students. The idea was for them to perform at a school assembly, telling the story of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
Sara, an education writer, wrote the lyrics, painstakingly including all of the important plot points, and we created an 80s rap-styled song a la the Beastie Boys. After telling some friends here in LA how much fun we had writing the tune, they suggested we try to create a larger series, and perhaps a lead character. Thus, Billy Shakespeare was born!
We created a short theme song, and then, like many projects, it entered a Middle Ages period where nothing happened and darkness ruled the land... OK, things weren't that bad, but the project was stagnant.
Enter Victor Yerrid, an amazing puppeteer who I met in the summer of 2010 when we performed together off-Broadway for Henson Alternative's puppet improv show, "Stuffed and Unstrung." I told Victor about "Billy Shakespeare," and to my surprise he quickly decided that we should work together on not only another song, but a way of telling the story visually as well.
Over the course of the past two years, in between other work, Victor and I wrote the song, and I arranged and orchestrated it, creating the background track. We recorded the vocals in early Fall, and and we've recently completed our mixdown of the track. The next step is to create a live-action puppet video, slated to shoot in early January. This is where all of you come in!
Partnering with us is the amazing puppet design and building company, Swazzle!
They're providing puppets, puppeteers, design, and production support. If you want to check out the work they do, here's a link to their website:
Once the video is shot and edited, we'll post it online on a dedicated website for everyone to watch for free. Additionally, we'll reach out to schools, educators, and parents to let them know about this new resource.
Thanks, everyone, for helping us to get this project completed!
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges that come with completing this project are varied. The main challenges include making the appropriate preparations for the days of the shoot. We need to make sure that everyone who is participating is where they need to be, and of course that everyone participating is well prepared to excel in their particular role.
Since the video will have been storyboarded and animatically produced well in advance, the cast will have those tools at their disposal to prepare, as well as the finished version of the song. Still, there will be the challenge of making sure that we use our time efficiently on the days of shooting, and there always exists the risk that our puppeteers may not be as prepared as we might have hoped when January rolls around and we shoot the video.
The challenge of successfully satisfying all of our rewards to you, our backers, is one that we take very seriously. There will be a particular challenge in terms of satisfying the reward of a printed, signed photograph taken on set during the days of the shoot. I've already planned to be the one to not only take the photo, but immediately get all the copies we need printed that day. This way I can bring back the prints we need to be signed immediately by the cast, ensuring we can get all the autographs we need out to you guys as soon as possible.
Aside from the known challenges of successfully satisfying all of the rewards, as well as the challenge of creating the best video possible to go online for kids everywhere, I believe that the next greatest challenge is finding a way to truly make "Billy Shakespeare" into a series of videos. This is a future challenge, of course, but one that we keep in the back of our minds as we complete this first video!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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