'Sesame Street' to be done on Jamaican shores - Stephanie Black shoots 'Ziggy Says' scene in Treasure Beach
Spending half a day to get two minutes of television programming may seem like a disproportionate return on investment, but film director Stephanie Black considers it time well spent.
She was slated to shoot footage in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth, yesterday, for a two-minute Sesame Street slot to a shortened version of Ziggy Says from Ziggy Marley's Family Time album.
Black first did Sesame Street programming about 17 years ago and this is about her fifth slot. Children will be coming from all over the island - Kingston, Mandeville and Ocho Rios - but most of the children involved are from Treasure Beach. And one child, Seya Rose Henzell, pulled Black to the location.
"She is like a pure country girl," Black said. "She is very imaginative, very unpredictable." That unpredictability probably reflects a general sense of independence which Black finds in the Jamaican children she has worked with and enjoys. And this is despite a saying among some film- makers, Black said, that "I don't work with animals and children - it is too hard". However, working with children, Black said "the trick is to not lead them to do it, but let them do it on their own".
The programme will begin with Seya starting Ziggy Says on an old-fashioned record player, then cut to different locations where the children will be following the directions in the song, wiggling toes and all. The intention is for children watching Sesame Street to follow the instructions and actions in their homes.
An important part of the filming is the presence of an aspiring 16-year-old film-maker, who will intern on the shoot. "She showed me her video and I was very impressed with what she had done on her home computer," Black said.
Black also pointed out that the filming will be done by an all-Jamaican crew, of which Chris Browne is the director of photography. She intends to also edit the show in Jamaica.
Stephanie Black's first Sesame Street job came through her documentary work.
"I had done H2 Worker. It was shown on PBS and someone contacted me and asked if I wanted to work on Sesame Street," she said.
And she laughs at an unexpected connection between her documentary work and the children's programme. "I have been on tour in the US (United States) with Life and Debt and a hand was raised in the audience and it was someone who was in a Sesame Street programme I did," Black said.
Ziggy Says airs on Sesame Street early next year.