From Tuesday 27 December, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will present an exclusive season of Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey (2011), a documentary about the man behind one of television’s most loved characters.
Being Elmo charts his puppetry obsession, his motivations and techniques, his unwavering commitment to the field and his eventual meeting with the legends of the craft.
Clash’s rise has been nothing short of inspirational. He was nine years old when Sesame Street premiered in 1969 and by the age of ten he was building his own puppets with a dream to one day work with Jim Henson and his masterful puppeteers. As a teenager in the 1970s he performed his original characters for local children before starting work at a Baltimore television station. After attracting the attention of Muppet designer Kermit Love, Clash’s ‘big break’ came with a role in the ensemble of popular fantasy film The Labyrinth (1986). Upon joining Sesame Street Clash was assigned Elmo, a character with a caveman-like persona who he developed into a symbol of love.
Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, Being Elmo features interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Cheryl Henson and others, providing an enormously entertaining history of Sesame Street (which screens in 140 countries and has been honoured with more Emmy® awards than any other TV show in history) and The Jim Henson Company creative team. Through archival footage the documentary goes behind the scenes into the Muppet workshops revealing the craft of puppetry. Clash’s success as Elmo provides surprisingly moving and personal moments which reveal the exhilarating highs and affecting lows of his experience.
Clash, whose key characters also include Hoots the Owl and Baby Natasha, is now Sesame Street’s Senior Puppet Coordinator and Muppet Captain, as well as Sesame Workshop’s Senior Creative Consultant. Elmo is arguably the show’s most popular character across the world.
Constance Marks is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker who is best known for her documentaries Let’s Fall In Love: A Singles‘ Weekend at the Concord Hotel (1994), selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as one of the outstanding documentaries of the year, and Green Chimney’s – a full-length documentary feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO.
ACMI Film Programmer, Kristy Matheson says that Being Elmo is an inspiring film. “Kevin Clash’s story is the ultimate rags to riches tale, it sounds corny but for anyone that has ever had a dream this is the film for you!”
Don’t miss Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey, when it screens exclusively at ACMI from 27 December 2011 to 8 January 2012. For session time and tickets please visit: acmi.net.au
“There are Piggy people in the world, and Kermit people, and Grover people, but Elmo people are everywhere” – Variety