2nd Annual Story Time Event
Theme: The 2nd Time
Do-overs, Redemption, Sequels etc.
Host of Sunny Side Up from Sprout, Carly Ciarrocchi has always been OBSESSED with stories. She even goes as far to say that if you even make eye contact with her, she will tell you a story. So really, Carly was just the perfect person to host the CMA 2nd Annual Story Time Event!
The evening consisted of live questions to the Story Time Speakers that prompted them to share from their personal lives or their work and story starter questions in everyones pamphlets to encourage and engage them to share their own stories.
Carly had the audience close their eyes in order to remove themselves from the busyness of NYC life and invited the room to do a brief breathing exercise in order to find a space to receive the magic of storytelling.
As an adult actress, Carly made the conscious choice to wear her glasses on her auditions because she thought it would be important for kids with glasses to feel represented in television programming. It was a way for her to connect with an audience of children but also enabled her to stand out from the crowd of glasses-less people who would also be auditioning for the same roles.
Hedda Sharapan was next on deck to tell a story and chose to begin with sharing a brief clip of a scene from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood where the legendary children’s folk-singer Ella Jenkins is teaching a rhythmic song with Fred who is having some trouble keeping up. After exposing the audience to a visually funny scene of Fred Rogers learning something new, Hedda goes on to explain that in certain instances, Fred did not believe in filming things a second time. After the first taping of that scene, Fred watched the video and approved it. He didn’t want to have a second taping of the scene where he would be able to improve and follow along with the rhythms better because his mistakes show children that it is hard to learn new things and to just keep trying.
There was another episode that Hedda referred to that Fred approved without wanting a second taping. That was the Sylvia Earle Hydrophone episode. The Hydrophone was a device that is meant to help people to hear the sound of fish. The only problem was that when they went to use the device to listen to the fish in Mr. Roger’s fish tank, there was no sound. No noise. Nothing at all. Just a lot of waiting.
Everyone behind the scenes was panicking at the lack of noise, but when Fred watched the taping of the scene he said that there was no sound a fish could make that could be better than the message that things don’t always go according to plan even when grown-ups want it to. And so he approved the scene without requesting to do it again.
Hedda’s interpretation of the absence of a second time is so important because it highlights that mistakes can sometimes forge a greater connection with your audience because mistakes are relatable.
When Fred did want to tape things for a second time, there was usually a very good reason. In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, it was never asked or expected that the visitors or guests memorize their lines. When the actor who was visiting the show for this particular episode was talking to a crying Henrietta Pussycat, the actor said “don’t cry” to the puppet. This was an instance where Fred wanted to film the scene again because he said by saying “don’t cry” you are telling a child that you don’t know how to handle their feelings, so he invited the actor to think of another way to say that and the line transformed into “I see that you’re upset, how can I help?”
Another instance of doing something for a second time, was when he waned to reshoot a scene where he left orange juice in his glass on the screen. He wanted to shoot the scene again because he didn’t want to encourage kids to waste food.
When doing things a second time, think of the children first.
Ayah Bdeir’s company Little Bits enables kids to invent and code in fun ways without having a background knowledge in robotics and engineering. It is a company that promotes products that get kids excited about technology. Ayah always wanted to combine crafts and creating and found a lot of consumer products to be less than fulfilling, so she developed the Children’s Workshop at a young age and negotiated with large companies to sponsor a carnival where you make everything. Combined with crafts and other activities for kids and families, there was one booth in particular that incorporated technological elements that ended up being the biggest hit of the whole event. Unfortunately everything that could go wrong did go wrong with this popular stand, which caused everyone who was working at the event to drop what they were doing in order to troubleshoot the problem. Despite these difficulties, word got out about the festival and different locations around the world wanted to get involved and host this event. But her parents soon stepped in and got involved and said that this was too much for her to be doing and that she should be focusing on school.
Jennifer Oxley wanted to be an animator from a young age but had a soft spot for live action and was obsessed with Rube Goldberg films, like the Goonies. Once she was an established grown-up person working in the industry, she found herself in a situation where her brother got laid off and came to live with her. She decided that this would be her opportunity to make a Goldberg-style film! So the two of them got started and rented a studio in Brooklyn to make it. The film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, but it wasn’t story-driven enough. Oxley got caught up again in her animation career and put her Goldberg passion projects to the side until her brother got laid off again, for the second time. So they tried another attempt at making the film again. This time they filmed their niece playing with toys. They set up a series of intricate toys and games for her to play with. It took 8 hours to film.
Jack Spillum left LA for NY to start a 2nd chapter of his career in the kids business. He left it all behind, his friends, family and beautiful weather for new opportunities. Originally from Tokyo Japan, Jack says he misses his childhood every day and traded all of that for the endless blue skies of California. A paradise! A culture shock! After college, he became an animation producer LA in the 1980s. Dic Enterprises got into the game and created a multitude of shows per cycle. There were 200-300 writers and producers pumping out pre production material to send out to Tokyo or Taipei or Sol. Dic was like a bootcamp and there wasn’t much room for quality control. It was a place where you learned a lot very quickly. One yer a friend from his youth invited him for a thanksgiving dinner in New York. It had a familiarity and business that reminded him of Tokyo. He researched the job market in kids animation and it wasn’t promising. He was happy in LA, so it would have to take a lot for him to move.
Back to his life in LA, a friend of his invited him to lunch and excitedly began telling him about Nickelodeon and a show called Doug. He flew to NY for the interview, got the job and moved out the next month. He didn’t even mind the giant rats!
He is energized everyday from the ability to provide meaningful and educational content for children.
Michael Poryes is a big advocate for second times and second chances. He goes on to say that first times are exciting and last times…well, they’re the last time, but second times are second chances and his career has been a series of those. Without the mess ups and without the second chances, he would have never found success because it is an opportunity to learn.
Michael Poryes spent his career working hard, getting on shows and learning all of the things not to do. He said he would never be like the intense people he worked for, he would be better, he would be kind and benevolent and everyone would love him! One day he finally got the chance to be the show-runner on a Disney sitcom called, “Absolutely Psychic” which was later named “that’s So Raven.” He hired 13 people and ran a tight ship. The show was so important to him that he became so intense that no-one was happy. He had to realize that things aren’t always about you and people need to go home at the end of the day. He admitted that his intensity and actions on the show got himself fired, but he learned from his mistakes.
Two years later, the same people who fired him, hired him for Hannah Montana. This time he hired a more manageable team of seven and made sure to be better. “Your teams happiness is more important than getting everything you want” Poryes emphasizes. He invited the audience attending the Story Time event to think of someone you can give a second chance to and consider doing it.
He continued the story of his career and pointed out that Miley was actually a second chance for Hannah Montana. The show was intended to go in a completely different direction and when they were casting for Hannah, they overlooked Miley’s audition tape because she was inexperienced. A few months later she sent a second audition tape, a better audition tape. This second look or second chance got her the role. “Let people surprise you” Michael concludes, “it’s a big opportunity to give someone.”
Missed our Story Time event, but want to feel like you were really there? Check out our new 360 video, available on our website for members! Pan around the room to see what the event was like from all angles. Want more of this kind of content? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think!