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Auditioning for Stuffed & Unstrung and or Henson Alternative projects

Discussion in 'Henson Alternative' started by mupcollector1, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I remember years ago hearing that puppeteers who wanted to work for JHC would send in a puppet reel, I'm just curious if JHC still does it this way. I remember talking to an agent who represented puppeteers but told me that I had to be a part of the Guild Actors League as well as have an agent, refferal, etc. So just curious if there's a way that I can send a demo reel to JHC for their Alternative projects.
  2. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    This is the first I've heard of having to be a part of the Actors Guild. I'd say give a shot at sending in a puppet reel. But I would try to make it short (maybe 2 minutes 30 seconds tops). You may also want to consider taking on some puppetry classes, if you haven't already.
  3. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I really wanted to take the puppetry course at UCONN (University of Connecticut) years ago but my father won't fund my way there unfortuatly. But I've been mostly self taught my whole life, I've started practicing the art of TV puppetry when I was 8 or 10 of a little before that, I've done some indie film work, etc. I'm in the process of pitching currently which is pretty tough for any artist. They got the whole industry blocked off probably to keep out the amateurs and the wannabes. It's like a blocked off circle, I get the same response, you need an agent we don't take unsolicited material / quarries, etc. And the agencies are basicly the same. I've even been snapped at rudely, one recently when asked who I was and my purpose of a call and I told him who I was and when I said "I'm looking for representation as a...." And suddenly the reseptionest shouts at me in quote "I'm going to stop you right there!" which took me by surprise, I didn't say anything rude yet I got a response as if I did. Then the young receptionist just shouts how they only take referrals, etc. So I reply based on my current knowledge, okay say I knew someone who was a client at your agency, that would be a referal right? And they stated strictly "I can not give out such information." It's just amazing how agencies when you call them up sound as if you were trying to call up the president or something like that, it's that strict and formal in my opinion. So where I'm at now is basically trying to contact my favorite artists and have them look at my DVD pitch tapes, material, etc. Because artists respond to fanmail 90% of the time but if you try to contact their agent, never hear a thing back. lol

    But yeah back to the original subject, I would like later down the road join Stuffed & Unstrung, it looks really fun. I've always admired "Whose Line Is It Anyway (British version, used to watch it on Comedy Central years ago but stopped watching it when the American version came out, didn't care for the new version), and my high school had their own improv comedy show which they funded the same way they would a play, but my drama teacher never liked me but liked this other kid who was mainly this jealous guy who knew me as the clown of the class who wanted to do comedy and just tried to rip me off every time and compete with me. Though I didn't feel threatened by him most of the time even though he tried his best to be better than me, stool my lines when he could, and constantly gave me dirty looks and acting snotty to me, etc. So mainly what I wanted to point out was the high school improv was kind of up my alley, I auditioned, even one point an imatating Woody Allen in one of my improv auditions but for some reason, the teacher's pet and the students who got the parts didn't have the passion that I did but I easily let it go. I can ramble on and on about my HS experience always being the loner shadow kid drawing comics instead of socializing with other students, being a struggling artist, etc but that's just another story for another thread. lol
    Anyway, back to the subject. lol I just think it's wonderful there's irreverent improv that features puppets and even better it's The Jim Henson Company, so I figure if it's still around which I'm sure it will be, it seems like it's really successful, I'd like to audition and give it a try. :) I remember watching the Puppet Up pilot that was shown on TBS around 10:30pm or a half an hour after midnight and it was just great, I loved it. And Brian was really funny with it. One of the many things I loved about it was this director who keep shouting "BLAH BLAH!" and just shouting the whole time and it was this animal couple just shouting at each other and Brian was this goat who was someone the other was cheating with and suddenly Brian's goat comes out and it's all bleeped out. lol I loved it :) Also I heard Anthony Asbury did one of the shows which he's one of my all time favorite puppeteers. And now well....it's not called Puppet Up anymore, it's Stuffed and Unstrung but I heard they are also doing the old Muppet sketches like Java and I've Grown Accostum to Your Face and even sketches that don't exist on film from what I've read. Which makes me want to audition more :)
    Lola p likes this.
  4. Mo Frackle

    Mo Frackle Well-Known Member

    Wow. Thats quite a story. I didn't know agencies could be like that. Well, I've never actually auditioned for anything before, but if you do decide to send in a video, heres what I'd suggest:

    Make it short
    Have it include different characters and voices so that you can show your ability to do different characters.
    Try to improvise it.

    I'd also suggest bringing your case to one of the puppetry boards towards the bottom of the forum. The guys down there have probably had more experience.
  5. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Awesome, thanks for the advice :)
  6. ToasterBoy

    ToasterBoy Active Member

    Here's my advice...do your own thing. Work on your own projects. Create, create, create. Look for opportunities everywhere. Meet puppet people wherever you can. Save up all year to get yourself to the O'Neil Puppetry Conference in Connecticut. Keep working at it. Learn everything you can.

    Unfortunately you can't just go bang on the front gate of the lot and get a job. But you can make them take notice. Like Steve Martin says, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” The agents, bookings, etc will come to you.

    I have been very fortunate to have been in a few Stuffed & Unstrung shows and you are right, they are amazingly fun to be in. My path getting there though was networking, having someone who was 'in' recommend me and my work, and jumping when the opportunity presented itself.

    I'm not in the Screen Actor's Guild. I do not have a puppetry agent. In fact, I was just turned down by one last week, even WITH Henson on my resume. I try very hard to not let that discourage me (and sometimes it even works). I just try to keep creating my own projects and keep moving forward.

    If you have enough footage to put together a puppet reel, do it. Send it to Henson. Right on their page it says:

    http://www.henson.com/employment.php

    At the present time we do not have any openings for new performers. However, we are always happy to consider the work of practiced puppeteers who are new to us. If you're interested in contacting us, please send a brief 5 - 10 minute video, showing us your work with puppets and demonstrating a range of character voices. The video should be sent to:
    PUPPETEER APPLICANTS
    The Jim Henson Company
    37-18 Northern Blvd, Suite 400
    Long Island City, NY 11101
    NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE. Human Resources will contact you directly if there is interest in your qualifications. Please note submission materials cannot be returned. All submissions become property of The Jim Henson Company.

    One thing to keep in mind is the math. There about about 20-30 people who are trained to perform in the S&US shows. In each performance, the cast is only 6 people and those who have been with PuppetUp from the start get first dibs on show spots. So the odds are small. BUT not impossible. :)

    If you would have asked me years ago if I would ever do puppets with Henson I would have laughed at you and said never in a million years. But I just kept doing my own thing and, astonishingly, it happened.

    Jim didn't wait for someone to ask if he wanted to do puppets. He just did it. And look where it got him. :) It'll work for you too.
    Chopped Liver and mupcollector1 like this.
  7. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Cool, thanks for the info. :)

    That's funny you mentioned them, I used to go every single year until I moved to a different state a few years ago. Someday I'd like to come back to another conference when I have the time :)
  8. Kuriboh Man

    Kuriboh Man Active Member

    I would Give anything to Audition for any of the Henson Alternative Projects!

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