October 10, 2012

By Robert Harvey

Cinemagic Students Swing by Sesame Workshop to Learn TV Techniques

Cinemagic students during a class at Sesame Workshop

Ed. Note: Robert Harvey is a student at De La Salle College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he writes music.

I recently attended an educational workshop at Sesame Workshop in New York as part of an international film festival hosted by Cinemagic, a youth charity organization based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Cinemagic aims to eliminate societal boundaries by bringing people tuogether from all backgrounds who want to break into the film and music industry. It offers opportunities like the one I received: I came over to New York and attended film festivals and classes at places like Sesame Workshop.

I came to New York for the first time ever, which was really exciting, to premiere the film we made in the summer of 2012 called “The Mantle,” in which I played a boy who goes through hardships and oppression but in the end he finds the real him and becomes a man. I love playing the role. It was such an exciting thing to do as I had never acted before. This was my first time! I felt the part was right because the protagonist, John, is basically me. It wasn’t hard to play him, but what John experiences is difficult, and it was challenging to portray.

I also wrote music for it, the song “Catching You.” It was easy because I have been writing music for voice and piano for around seven years. But I had never sung any of my own material in front of people, only in my room! The experience allowed me to grow more confident. Now I’m compiling a bunch of songs and recording them for a CD.

While in New York for the film festival, we had a class at Sesame Workshop. The experience played a big part in helping to further our knowledge of how to create film and a television series. The staff welcomed us warmly and allowed us to take part in the whole television creation process, which was fun because we grew up watching Sesame Street. We were shown how each individual episode is made: The different products and styles used in every episode, how they change, how those changes make the episode more interesting.

It was great for young filmmakers because we realized we can use some of the techniques Sesame Street does to improve our films. They also showed us how the show is used to educate kids and make them more away of contemporary issues in a sensitive and safe way, which I thought was admirable. And the allowed us to interact with the new technology their working on, such as the Xbox Kinect game they recently released and the interactive table in their lobby, which aims to tell adults about Sesame’s worldwide projects, accomplishments and upcoming projects.

I learned so much. It opened my eyes to how children’s shows are made and what they can accomplish. I would like to thank Sesame Workshop once again for allowing us to come to their offices. It made the television industry seem like something I’d be excited to be a part of.

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