The Challenge of seeing "Being Elmo"

Through out my life I have grew up with the inspiration of Jim Henson around me.  From his TV shows, toys, movies and the work that my own father was inspired to do from watching interviews with Jim Henson.  My house had monsters ranging from tiny puppets to big costumes, craved from foam rubber.  So of course I always looked at Jim Henson as a Master among Masters when it came to art.  He designed and built his own puppets, he did all of this on his own and was able to release some of the greatest things I ever saw growing up.  Of course this includes my reaction to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.

Growing up with costumes and puppets made it so the look and feel of a character meant a lot to me.  Every movie or show I watch, I see how they work in the creatures that are not human.  I judge based on if they did as good as Henson would do.  As to me, Henson was always the best.  Live action movies or shows with puppets or costumes became my favorite thing to watch.  From Muppets to Alf to Howard the Duck and Dinosaurs.  So of course I took time to read up on the people behind the puppets.  One name started to really pop up in 1990 to me, Kevin Clash.

Kevin Clash was the puppeteer who worked Splinter’s mouth and did the voice of Splinter for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 & 2.  He’s the only one of the puppeteers that provided the voice for the finished films.  And he did such a wonderful job.  Most of my favorite Splinter quotes come from those movies, his voice was prefect and his reactions were life like.  Though when I would find interviews on the people who did the Ninja Turtles, it was interviews with the four Turtles, April, and Keno.  Even Black Belt Magazine did not get Kevin Clash for their TMNT issue.  The area that did get him though was “Behind the Shells”, where they show a glimpse of what he does, including him recording the voice.  But the clip is not long enough.

I had to do my own research on Kevin, who is he, what else has he worked on.  IMDB was not around back in the early 1990’s, so you could not just turn on a computer and boom his name will list everything he’s done.  I started to read the credits of Jim Henson movies and shows, looking for the names of people who worked on the Ninja Turtle Movies.  When the TV show Dinosaurs came out, I finally found Kevin Clash again.  He’s the Baby!  That squeaky voice is from the same guy who did Splinter’s voice!   Later I learned that he is Elmo from Sesame Street.

So last year when I heard about a Documentary being done about Kevin Clash, I knew this was going to be something worth seeing.  I watched the trailers and got excited with every bit of news released.  The Documentary is titled “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer Journey”.   When the movie was finally being released this last November, it was going to only certain cities and my home area of Detroit, Michigan was not on the map to see this movie!  The closes location to see the film was going to be Cleveland, Ohio.

Having a friend in the area, I started to plan the trip for November 20th.  We’d go down for the Sunday showing, see the movie, hang out with friends and travel home. It was all worked out, and with so many events right before this it was really the only showing that I could go to.  While getting the plans worked out my doctors contacted me telling me my surgery date, which landed to close to this trip for me to go and see the movie.  For more about this surgery please read “RSD Update”.   So I had to miss the movie that weekend.

With that I kept checking the site for updates on if “Being Elmo” was going to come to Detroit, Michigan.  Though each time I checked there was never an update that said Michigan.  Disappointed as I was through December and the beginning of January, I figured at some point I would see it.  Though January came my yearly trip of going to visit our Cowabunga Corner editor, Phoenix.

Phoenix lives around six hours from my house, so when I go to visit I stay for awhile.  I do not return to Michigan during this time, as it’s my get away time.  It’s these times while away that I plan out the seasons of Cowabunga Corner and write most of the stories for this website.  I also catch up on my work for the TMNT-L Forums.  I do keep checking my normal stuff too, which included keeping an eye on “Being Elmo”, but I did not realize just how close I could get to missing it.

I checked up on viewings of “Being Elmo” only a few weeks ago, not seeing anything listed at the time.  I felt I was safe till my return to Michigan at the end of February.  Though on February 1st, as I was over excited about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Toys from the Classic set, Nickelodeon set, Deluxe Sound set and Rides  I did not think anything could bring me down.  Though I got on the phone with my mother, as she broke the news to me that “Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey” was going to be playing at the DIA that weekend!

I about died, my chance finally came and I’m no where near home.  Without my car as I rented one to get down here, and weeks before I’m due back in Michigan.  Once filling Phoenix in on my problem she mentioned us going up to Michigan to see the movie that Friday.

Early morning on February 3rd, we took a road trip.  Getting to my house around 5pm, then to the theater where I got to see a movie that was even better than the Trailers could of shown.  A wonderful film about an performer who has brought his dreams to life.  He has touched so many bringing smiles around the world.  And just how he’s reaching out to help others who are now in his shoes from when he first got started in the world of puppets.  Please check out my reviews to find out more about this film.

That same night Phoenix and I drove back down to her place.  It seems like a lot for one film, though really the film was worth it.  One of the best Documentaries that express my view of media and why I want to be a part of that world.  The only thing that could of made that day trip better was if I could of seen Kevin Clash in person.


Update: Now "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer Journey" is on Netflix and will be on DVD this April.

Entertainment Earth