There are certain things that influence me as far as my design, creativity and well....life. Disney
, Star Wars
and of course...the Muppets
My mom was a HUGE Muppet Show fan. We'd watch the show together and to this day she will quote it CONSTANTLY. My mom introduced me to so many fun and creative influences growing up - it's something I definitely try to carry on with my own kids.
I remember not only the characters, but the life-like interaction and humor that made it all so entertaining. Jim Henson was an important creative figure in my life and when the opportunity came up to visit the studios, I couldn't wait!
I drive by the studios all the time - it always looked like the Wonka Factory to me. Old 1900s architecture, a large Kermit statue placed jauntily on top of a sign, above the HUGE overbearing gate...which is always closed
. Only invited guests, here.
Once inside I got to see some amazing Emmy award winning technology. I always wondered how they merged the art form of puppetry with live action. The technology was fascinating. It's like being inside the mind of puppeteer, though I don't know if that's a dream or a nightmare.
There were tons of figures from shows long past - it's amazing how much Henson productions has their hand in every major form of entertainment.
Remember the tv show Dinosaurs?? Yep. That's the actual baby.
I think what shocked me was the size
of things. You always see the puppets on tv, but in reality they are HUGE. I mean, this Scooby Doo was full size, and when you think about it - yes, he is supposed to be a massive Great Dane, but when you see it standing there 4 feet tall+ in person, it's almost scary.
Lots of Dark Crystal stuff. I remember the Skeksis and being totally freaked as a kid. TOTALLY. FREAKED.
As an adult standing nose to nose with it is still a bit disconcerting but the detail work is outstanding. It looks amazing on screen but in person the amount of thought and work put into these creatures is almost breathtaking.
I got a peek inside the office conference room, where there was a large mural with every single creature that was worked on by Jim Henson himself. It almost broke my heart.
I remember being devastated when Jim Henson died.
He was so creative, he had so much more to do and he was just gone too soon. But his legacy certainly lives on through all the creative talent at the studio.
I think the most spectacular thing about the place is that they were the original studios of Charlie Chaplin. His actual bungalows, sound stages and buildings are all still being used today.
Being on the lot takes you back in time and you can almost feel what it was like when they made movies back then.
They even have Charlie Chaplin's actual footprints saved in the courtyard.
Everything looks the same - but modernized. There is a full on high tech recording studio that is used everyday by some of the biggest names in music. The list of famous people is mind-boggling. After all they recorded 'We Are the World' here. Some real heavy hitters come in and out of this joint.
This was another one of my favorites - seeing as how I just did a 'Where the Wild Things Are' dinner for the Baby
, it was jaw-dropping to be standing next to a life size head from the movie. Again, the size of these things is astounding. That head is almost 5 feet across! I just never imagined the puppets would be so big!
The coolest thing about the lot is that everywhere you turn there's another creature. They are SO realistic it's hard to tell if something's going to jump out at you or just stand still. I think if I worked a late night I might freak if I turned the corner and saw a Skeksis
staring at me, is all I'm sayin'.
The amount of work and care and love that goes into every show and creature can be felt as you walk around the campus. The feeling is truly a testament to the creative people that carry on the Henson name.
It was near bliss to be able to live out one of my dreams and see some of my greatest influences in person. It was truly a fantastic place where creative possibilities seem endless.
Labels: jim henson, los angeles, muppets