Puppetry for the
Screen Masterclass Lecture. A Work in Progress
15 Puppets on Stands, Screen behind. Camera and Monitor set up at side.
Internet access and playout for DVD.
|Start. Good Morning or Afternoon.
Background image handsuppuppets.com image
My names Marcus Clarke I come from Nottingham and I have a Nottingham based Company here called Hands Up Puppets, which I set up in the Lace Market with my partner Helena Smee nearly 25 years ago.
It's not all we do, but our work with Hands Up Puppets and within the Art of Puppetry is the foundation of everything we do.
Background image Masterclass still
This Lecture is called Marcus Clarke's Puppetry for the Screen Masterclass so I'm going to start off by Showing you a Film I made for the Kids Bafta website that's called, Marcus Clark's Puppetry for the Screen Masterclass.
Then I'm going to tell you a bit about me, how I started in Show Business, how I progressed to work in the West End Theatre and how I got into Puppetry and into working in Film and Television and all over the world. Bit of practical first hand Industry insight.
How that journey has meant me learning lots of different skills and grown me into being the many forms of a creative artist that I am today, I am a;
1/ CV image Professional Puppeteer. A Performance Artist an Artiste.
2/ Puppet Making image A Puppet Maker and a product designer, a Craft maker.
3/ Softies Image I am a Scriptwriter and TV Series deviser and Producer. I co devised this Series, co-produced it and script wrote some episodes. and I've been BAFTA nominated for my Script editing work. (Not bad for GSCE O level D). And I am an intellectual property creator.
4/ Clayfields House image A Digital Artist. Media creator and Film Maker. I designed and made this website, Hands up Puppets.com I make short films too like the BAFTA Puppetry Masterclass and Clayfields House.
5/ 4 Puppetised Jackets A Fashion Designer.
6/ PuppetTVGraffiti image A Contemporary Artist with my art movement PuppetTVGraffiti
7/ teacher image And an Educational product developer. A Teacher. I devised this talk and lots of puppet Making workshops too.
And of course inform you about the different forms and styles of Puppetry we use and to achieve what end.
My talk will take about One and a Half Hours then I'll have a Q&A and you can come and look at the Puppets I've brought here more closely and some other bits and bobs.
Here’s my Puppetry for the Screen Masterclass Film. Show link or DVD
I have a box of puppet body parts for you to look at later and some animatronic bits too.
Action. Show Box of eyes and noses.
Background image hands up puppets.com
Here are these for you to play with. Action. Hand out ping pong ball box to be passed around.
My background. I come from Nottingham, West Bridgford properly, and for some reason I always wanted to work in Showbusiness. it seemed unlikely. My Stepfather was in the Royal Navy, (my real Dad died when I was very young) and my Mum had a Guest House. I couldn't sing, dance, or act either.
Early on in education I excelled but by about 13 years of age my schoolwork had fallen off a Cliff. I couldn’t seem to write fast enough to copy off the black board, keep legible notes, concentrate and worse hold everyday conversations. I became nervous and blurted things out. I was OK one on one but became confused in groups and it wasn’t long before I was identified as ADHD. My Mum refused any further action, dignosis, treatment, probably because she knew where I had got it from but I was not put forward for any Exam streams as a result. I couldn’t do Art anymore either, which I loved, as it was considered an Academic subject so I was effectively sent off to day release as Factory fodder at the local FE (South Notts/Central College) for two years to learn Electrical Engineering.
<At 16 on leaving School I got a job as an Electrical Engineering apprentice at Brush Loughborough.
My Mum suggested I got a job in the Theatre, as I didn't do anything in the evenings. Which was true. So I did at the Playhouse as an LX Showman. Loved it, the light fascinated me. But being under 18 years of age I wasn’t allowed to work after 8.00pm which made the whole thing impractical for both them and me.
I left Brush shortly after and became a bit dissilutioned and shiftless. A NEET I suppose. Eventually I decided to try learning Art. Become a Set Designer? NTU's foundation course wouldn’t have me as I had no GCSE’s. West Notts, then Mansfield College of Art, would on the condition I got 5 GCSE’s which eventually I did and A level Art too.
Lets count 1 to 10 with your hands up in the air, using our thumb to suggest the opening and closing mouth.
Health and Safety talk.
Lipsincing by just moving your thumb up and down as if it were the mouth.
Very good, pop the eyes back in the box for me.
To continue. A whole year though at West Notts was enough for me and being 18, able to work late, I started back in the Theatre. At the Theatre Royal Nottingham, doing the follow spot, loved the light, and then working as an LX at other Theatres before becoming a West End Theatre Stage Manager, firstly at the Palace Theatre Shaftsbury Avenue. On the Musical Song and Dance.
Background image Song and Dance background.
I had arrived at this Stage Management point by utilising a very simple strategy.
1/ I was ambitious. I wanted to be the best in the world at something.
So tried to be the best at everything I did.
2/ I outworked everybody else.
No girl or boyfriend, didn’t drink or take drugs.
3/ I volunteered for every new job opportunity that turned up.
Hence with regard to the last point, having started on Song and Dance the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical, at the Palace Theatre West End as a temporary production LX, when some Scenery with Screens, slide Projectors and a computer control arrived from America, and all around looked baffled at it. I volunteered to sort it out. I learned how it all worked, how to programme the then new Apple II Computer, (it was 1982) and made myself indispensable so they offered me a full time job on the Shows Stage Management team.
Background image Little Shop of horrors background.
Other Musicals were offered and eventually I did Little Shop of Horrors, importantly, volunteering to learn how to look after the Puppet Plant Audrey II and the American Puppeteer.
Background image Puppet Plant or internet web page Little Shop
When we were looking for a new Puppeteer I learnt how to perform the Plant and amid much chortling from the Crew, auditioned for the Plant. Got the part and two weeks later I was a West End Star.
Background image Star Show DVD or Internet link of Marcus doing Little Shop of Horrors.
From that I got a job as a puppeteer on the film,
Background image LSHFilm internet link to Film
Met Brian and Jim Henson and auditioned for the Jim Henson Puppeteering for television Workshop. Again amid much derision from the old hands.
Background image Irish
I got in though. Months of practising lipsinc with my Hand and an oven Glove had done the trick. More importantly, I came out top and got cast in future Jim Henson productions. Jim liked me because of my "Monty Python" humour. It was actually just a mixture of backstage 'On Cans' banter and Spike Milligan's Goon Show. I had the BBC collection on Cassette on my Walkman.
Background image Storyteller image
Show The Storyteller DVD Youtube link
and Monster Maker.
Show youtube link to Film Youtube backstage link or DVD Monster Maker Backstage
Also EFL which was cancelled shortly before Jim’s death. Became the Hoobs.
The work though was mostly, Special effect type, animatronics. I wanted to do Puppets. Sessame Street. Something like that though.
I also did Feature Films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Commercials and other TV stuff.
Playbox ( My web page )
Background image Playbox
I auditioned for Ragoll’s Cat and Dog and got the job as puppeteer to Cat and Dog two Glove Puppets. We shot a test and ITV came back saying they wanted the Puppets to have moving mouths. Something I was able to get an animatronic friend of mine to do but as the lipsinc was controled by Cable, like this.
Action Show Puppet Little Baby Fox Puppet
I couldn't do both Puppets. This is where my then Girl friend stepped in Helena as Ragdoll thought, as it was such a small box for two Puppeteers to be in, that the other Puppeteer should be someone I was comfortable being close up against all day. Helena did a great job and so her Puppeteering career began. She's just finnished on the new Muppet Movie so that's how good she's got. Here's a Clip of Playbox.
Show Playbox youtube link
This Show was important for me because it began my professional working with Helena, both our pre school tv careers and we got to work with longstanding Kids TV Director, Leslie Pit. He'd been Directing 'Rod Jayne and Freddie' and was a mine of information. He and Anne Wood of Ragdoll (Tellytubbies) taught us the basics of pre school tv. It also gave us a new and unique tool with the Animatronic mouthed Glove Puppet, something that became one of our specialties.
Hotdog ( My web page )
Background image Hotdog
Afterwards there was not much Puppeteering work around that wasn't already cast so I decided to put together my own tv show and then cast myself as the lead Puppeteer. I wrote it over a weekend and about what I knew about, House shares and Dogs. It was called Hotdog and I sent it out to everyone. Got one reply from Thames TV, had a pitch meeting at which the subject of "who's going to make the Puppets" came up. In a panic I said I would, no problem. So myself and Helena, who was then working on the Stage Show Les Miserables made them. Teaching ourselves basically and these are the first Puppets we made, Underdog and Mrs Dog.
Action Show Puppets Underdog and Mrs Dog.
They're the mainstay of TV Puppets in being Hand Puppets with live arms. Like a Glove. I based the character of Underdog on Peter Cook, again an old comedy classic, suggesting to the puppeteer how to perform him and Hotdog, my Puppet I based on my Cat. Called 'Cat'.
For years I had given him voice as he came through the catflap. "morning Boss, got any food, you know, like food".
Background image Original Hands up Puppets logo
Thus me and Helena decided to create Puppet Characters for Television and hands up Puppets was born.
We relocated back to my home town of Nottingham in the Lace Market.
I'd been pitching to TVAM and just at this point in 1989 I was offered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Jim Henson's to Film in the USA and a new Show for TVAM featuring a Horse and Brian Cant. I opted for the Horse for TVAM and this became Dappledown Farm. We got the job of making the Puppets by halving our initial quote.
Dappledown Farm ( My web page )
Background image Dappledown
Show DVD of Dappledown Farm or youtube link
Action Show and tell Puppets Dapple, Stubble, Millie.
I'm just going to take you through the Puppet designs and configurations.
Dapple Puppet is a hand Puppet that I perform backwards.
Stubble and Straw are animatronic gloves as is Millie the Moorehen. Great Puppets.
I also got to design my first Set. The Duckpond with its distinctive louvered angled slats so it can be filmed from above.
We learnt loads from Dappledown Farm and from Brian Cant.
The Executive Producer Nick Wilson went on to commission and employ us for around 20 years on and off as he moved from post to post, right up to Channel 5. Like many Artists before us having a patron and the patronage relationship was absolutely vital to our development.
These are shows we made with him.
Top Banana ( My web page )
We introduced Chuck the Chimp which Helena did and a three headed hydra.
Children's Channel ( My web page )
Lots at the Children's Channel in 6 Different formats 7 Puppets.
Show DVD Ratkan Out takes online link
Mostly Hand Puppets, animals and robots (our first Fleece characters) in various Satalite 'Ratkan' roles but also strange Baby animatronic Robot Glove Puppets (also made of Fleece) in It's Droibee Time. image
This stack it high fast turnaround TV like you see with Hacker the Dog on CBBC today is a great way to learn. Of course you have youtube now too which I would go for, make and produve for and try to grow in Maker Studio fashion.
Ike and Webber. ( My web page )
With the Children's Channel rebranded to TCC we made Puppets Ike and Webber out of Fleece and shot these entirely on location, using Camera Cut Off.
Show DVD Ike and Webber Camcorder Cities Crucial Collection
Action Show Ike Puppet who's about as big as you can get a hand Puppet comfortably.
Show him on Camera talking to audience via the Camera and Monitor set up.
The Fleece we had milled so its different from that mostly used by Puppet Makers including the Muppets which is called Antron Fleece and is shinyer and actually quite difficult to buy now.
Action Show Antron and our Fleece.
Havakazoo ( My web page )
Has a hand puppet Watchdog with live hands and an animatronic.
Action Show Watchdog Puppet
As the Puppeteer, I won't say Puppeteer and voice because I always do my Puppets voices, I could either do one hand, the left, and let another Puppeteer do my right hand and the animatronic ear and brow control or I could do the animatronic with my left hand which for timing purposes in performance would work out best for me and let another Puppeteer do both of my other Arms. This is the way I did him with Helena assisting and doing both of my live arms. We made them extra long to help.
Action get volunteer Puppeteer to do both arms.
Demonstrate animatronic. "I'm watchdong you" scrutiny and surprise.
Arms. Clapping and pointing while balancing out the other arm. Thank Volunteer.
It also has Watchdogs fleas, Tic and Toc which are filmed in close up mostly telling jokes. We decided not to make them grubby but instead very bright and out of variously dyed fleece.
Action Show Puppets Tic and Toc and also different coloured dyed fleece from bag.
Show DVD of Havakazoo or youtube Havakazoo
Other Series for Nick include.
Tickle Patch and Friends ( My web page)
Tickle and Patch, they're about as small as you can make a hand puppet. Thy're not much bigger than an actual Guinea Pig but being small they can get really close together and up to things.
Show Patch Puppet
Show DVD Tickle and Patch or web page link and video.
This is again how we work on location. Getting down on the ground which on a Farm can be quite um.
The Softies ( My web page)
In 2003 this was a Big Series for us because not only did we devise and develop the Programme idea and format, design the Puppets, write most of the Scripts but we owned 90% of any profits from sales effectively making us the owners and Producers.
Show Softies DVD or youtube link
Puppet designs themselves where innovative because to make them look 'Soft' we made their body's calapsible and had both internally rodded hands and live hands.
Show Cuddle Puppet
Sandy and Mr. Flapper
Show Sandy and Mr. Flapper DVD or youtube link
A house just like yours ( My web page )
A house just like yours Show A House just like DVD or youtube Smudges Song link
This is a tiny animatronic Glove Puppet being expertly used by Helena to carry a performance.
I used another similar Puppet Dusty for the location inserts
Show Baby Fox Puppet
Location shots image
Milkshake Monkey ( My web page )
Milkshake Monkey is an example of a developed or recycled Puppet character as the Puppet Design and character root goes back to Top Banana's Chuck the Chimp Puppet that we also made and Helena performed, though originally I was going to but that's another story.
Show DVD or youtube Milkshake Monkey link
Milkshake Show ( My web page )
Various incarnations of the Milkshake Show for which we made Milky and Shake the house pets. A Cat and a Dog. This is Milky Cat.
Action Show Puppet Milky and he has two rodded arms. That you can perform either both or just one at a time. A mix is best to get the most out of the Puppet.
I perform him like this and though a vary different Puppet his character root goes back to Dapple the Horse in Dappledown Farm.
Show Milkshake Show DVD or youtube link
Tricky Business ( My web page )
Throughout this time we also did lots of TV Programmes for lots of other people including the BBC, This is Tricky Business in which we made and I used another animatronic Glove Puppet called Crabtree.
Show Tricky Business DVD or youtube link
Yes that's me singing the title song.
SMarteenies ( My web page )
Also for the BBC, CBeebies, SMarteenies, Doogy Dog a radio controlled animatronic hand puppet
Show SMarteenies DVD or youtube link
Action Show Puppet Doogy and pass out remote animatronic controls.
Dotty and Buzz ( My web page )
And Channel 4, this is Dotty and Buzz two human style Fleece hand Puppets.
Show Dottie and Buzz DVD or youtube link
Big Bag (my web page )
For ITV the Big Bag, a UK version of the US Show.
Show youtube link
Medialab ( my web page )
We were also involved in the development of CG Performance animation or real time performance animation. Puppeteering Computer Generated Animation characters basically. working with Medialab on Donkey Kong, NBC's Johnny Chimes and Venus on the Hard Drive TV Pilot.
But that's a whole other story that you can research via my website ( my web page ) if your desperate to see them......
I have DVD's Johnny Chimes and Venus
We also made Puppets for other people including Irelands State Broadcaster RTE one of these Puppets was put on Irelands National Stamp to Celebrate RTE's 50th.
Worked on Movies like Muppets Christmas Carol, Treasure Ireland and recently, The Muppets again Movie now a franchise owned by Disney.
PJ's Bedtime ( my web page )
I also worked for Disney Playhouse on a Show called PJ's Bedtime.
Show Kill Bill Promo DVD
The spin off PJ's Storytime got me a BAFTA nomination and working with Producer Lucy Goodman on a Story telling Show.
Later I worked with Lucy again on Bookaboo.
Show Bookaboo Series 1 Alicia DVD or youtube Promo link
we won lots of awards too.
Talk about Green Screen Green DVD
Stage Puppets ( my web page )
So now we're also returning to the Theatre with a live Stage Show, Dreaming with Roo, based on a Native Australian Story theme, we have it in development with a straightforward hand puppet Roo Narating with me. Although the other Puppets look very different and organic the mechanicals or animatronics are based on the design I made for Legoland 10 or more years ago.
Action Show Legoland prototype queen.
Action Show Puppets Wombat and Crow.
I also developed these Fab Foam Ocean Life puppets as a cardboard printable cheap toy.
Action Show Tiger, Elephant, Shark.
Teaching ( my web page )
We're doing more educational work, I'm recently gained the CTLLS Teaching Qualification
Warrick Uni for Teaching Qualifications.
And as well as holding Puppetry Workshops, Puppet Making and Teaching Puppeteering for Television
DVD Sock Puppets at Degree level play link
Artwork image My PuppetTVGraffiti web page I've also built on my Puppetising Artwork and provide Fine Art Workshops in Schools. My last exhibition Homeless in the Puppetised City
Also featured this Puppet, the Little Stinkweed. With whom I have a whole TV Series idea.
This is my Educational webpage with lots of Bookable Tuition and Workshops available.
See Hands Up Puppets Puppetry Arts Educational