Just finished watching the inspiring, heart-warming documentary ‘Being Elmo’ – A puppeteers Journey. Its the story of Kevin Clash, the man behind the iconic and much loved muppet – Elmo.
Probably one of the most rewarding documentaries I have watched. As Kevin puts it, the story gets much bigger than himself. What starts out as a story about a man following his dreams eventually comes to the point where Elmo is the worlds source of love and happiness. Sick children would come and watch Elmo. All Elmo wanted to do was give hugs and kisses and spread his love across to everyone.
In terms of how the doco technically worked – it was great to see and learn from it. One of the main reasons why it worked so well is because of the way it was made. The story flowed very smoothly as they chose the right pathways to lead from one element to the next. For example, Kevin would tell a story involving his parents which would lead and cut to his parents talking. We would hear the world New York and suddenly we were in the big smoke.
The music played a very big role in the film success as well. There were very few moments that didn’t have music. The music both moved and created an upbeat mood throughout the film. While thinking about my documentary, I would love to have music for the majority of the film as I feel without it a documentary can get very bland and continue in the same way with very little feeling.
Above everything though, was the interviews and the way the camera was set-up. There was a lot of re-creation and archival footage and photos but when an interview was taking a place it was so intriguing and gripping because of the way the camera was set up and where the director got the subject to look towards. The interview that stands out in my mind is the main one with Kevin. It is not set out in the conventional manner but rather his face is on one side of the frame while there is nothing on the other side. He stares at the camera. It’s a very interesting creative choice…but it really works. I need more time to think about why it works so well but I think it is just pleasing to the eye while being very simple and slick.
The film is structured so well that it takes you through the ups and downs. At first i didn’t feel connected with the stroy and what it was trying to get across. The problems and conflict seemed a little forced and questionable. But as it went on and as Elmo became “bigger than Kevin” – so did the issues, conflict and structure. The film suddenly turned from an upbeat cute sort of story into a heart-warming, inspiring piece of work. One could almost cry listening to the motives behind such an incredible character – love and happiness.
All in all, a fantastic piece that really taught me a lot and inspired me to not only make documentary film but to go out and do what I really love and want to do creatively.
Take a look at the trailer…