Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Serving both children and adults, part of Conversations in Video Editing.
- Would you say that there are any challenges in working with talent that normally doesn't do this sort of thing, because obviously you have all of these celebrities that are coming in for a day and are doing something like interacting with muppets that are outside of their usual sphere. And I know this might be more of a directing thing, but as an editor do you see, either when you're in the control room or when you get the footage, that they're not exactly doing it the way that you wish they were? - I mean, the neat thing about a show like Sesame that's now 45 years old, is that a lot of the performers and celebrities that we have on, know the show intimately.
They either watched it as a kid or their kids watch it. So they come here wanting to be on it and they're just as excited as any of us, so that's not typically an issue and for me, as the editor, I'm trying to make the decision to make them look the best as possible, either our characters or the performers so any chance that I have to help improve performance, I do it. But typically, yeah I mean... - They're in it, they're there. - They're getting to be on Sesame Street.
- I'm impressed, I mean, I have two children and they love it and so I'm now watching it again. - Right. - You know, many years later from when I used to watch it. Yeah, it's pretty magical. - My mom actually, she found, this was a couple of years ago, but a photo of me and my brother with, I have Bert and Ernie slippers on and he has Cookie Monster slippers and I was two, but it's surreal to have watched the show when I was a kid and now be a part of making it, to have watched Big Bird and now to directly talk with Big Bird.
It's incredible. And again, I do feel that responsibility because we're not just making content that entertains but is making a difference, it's helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder and that is that goal, the mandate. Every single thing we do is to help make kids better. That's an incredible thing and it definitely, it educates everything that I do because my instinct, especially in something like a music video, is let's go fast, let's make it really cutty, and I have learned being on Sesame Street that from a research team and the producers that just because something might be more fun for me to watch, we have to always consider our audience and what's gonna be more understandable for them, as well as fun and the writer's do the same thing.
They'll try to write towards the parent so that way they're engaged and enjoying it while they're watching with their kid. - That's a really good point. Obviously everything on Sesame Street is aimed at both of those audiences because you say you need to know your audience, you need to cut for your audience but you're right, it's both for the kids and the parents. I mean all the parodies, the kids aren't gonna get them, it's for the parents that have attended Comic-Con. (laughs loudly) - Yes, yeah.
- And I mean maybe older children would know what that was, but you know, three and four year olds don't know what that is. - Right, right. - I mean, I'm just thinking back to from when I was a kid and all of those Hitchcock references, my dad was cracking up behind me and I'm just like, "Why are you laughing? He's going up 39 steps! I want to see Grover do this!" But he's just like, "39 steps!" So anyway, that's interesting. You're cutting for two audiences. - Yeah and it is, in terms of the writing, it is, it's a feat.
They have to... The goal is dual viewership that when a kid's watching, the parent will be watching with them. To ride the line between being entertaining and enjoyable for the parent but then also educational and enjoyable for a kid and not going too far both directions, always with the intent of the child but to have the parent there watching with them and so you have, in terms editorially, I'm very greatful for our research team because they're always constantly helping to educate me on what will make sense for the kid and I've been immersed in it now for five years so I've gotten better and better at it but my instinct is always how do I think it will look best? How should I...
Because I get to be the first audience as the editor so what is the most enjoyable for me in terms of telling the story. But they'll go back and they'll say, "No, when you show "that triangle, you need to highlight it and stay on it "so that way kids know what it is, whatever it may be." But yeah, constantly educating to find a way to fully engage that child in an educational way and not just simply be entertaining. - And then, how has it changed, if at all, since you've become a father? - That has been easily the most gratifying part.
My daughter's now a little over two, two and two months, something like that, but she... Actually getting to be able to watch content with her is the most incredible thing and to hear her laugh at pieces that we've worked on together and to call Elmo her buddy is just an incredible thing and I've, even rough cuts that I've done, I've taken home and watched with her just to get her, to see how she's engaged with it and if it's making sense to her, to help educate me in terms of how I'm cutting it.
- Yeah, you have your own little test audience, don't you? - Oh, totally, yeah. But to be able to make something and then automatically be able to show her and watch it with her, it's an incredible feeling, definitely. - That's awesome because there are so many around the world that, you know, she's getting pretty hot seat there. I would love to be in that seat. Well, I want to talk about postchat but before we do, before we exit on all things Sesame Street, is there anything else you'd like to talk about the style of cutting or in general? - Maybe nontechnical, but personal, if that's okay.
- Yes. - I think something that Sesame has really taught me as an editor is, it's helped develop my storytelling muscle in a way that I believe more closely marries to the director. I've always loved the technical side and I've always loved storytelling but really, you know, doing this level of content and differentiating content that Sesame makes, I've really had to grow in my ability to tell a story, how to best tell a story.
Comparing a director in an editor position is inappropriate, I mean they're very different, but I really do believe that you're exercising those same storytelling muscles, when and why we should be here and when and why we should be doing this. Sesame has been an incredible experience in learning how to do that but then also I think Sesame has taught me as an editor, just gratitude. Editing can be a very lone wolf type of position, and it's easy to notice what you don't have, B-roll wise, or what you need or the limitations you have and Sesame, just the culture of people and the culture of the workshop, has really developed the problem solver in me to, no matter what I'm faced with, which is usually incredible content, you know, how can I make it better? How can I not just simply achieve what they want but to improve upon it? And so I think more than anything Sesame's taught me gratitude, just how lucky it is that, as editors, if we're able to pay for our house or our family from editing, we're lucky and I feel very fortunate for that.