“Get in the head of a three year old,” Sherri Stoner urged the writer’s room, “We want to avoid treating children like little adults.” Sherri is the head writer for GBH’s upcoming children’s show WOMBATS. From writing beloved 1995 film Casper to being the live-action model for Ariel and Belle, Sherri has over 40 years of experience in children’s television.
Nodding in agreement was writer and producer Glen Berger, known for his work on King of the Hill, Kung Fu Panda, and Curious George.The room pulsed with unconstrained creativity. Ideas bounced from person to person like popcorn at the summer fair.
Leaders in children’s television typically aren’t suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying professionals. From what I’ve gathered as a children’s programming intern at GBH, they are a tad zany, a tid off the wall, and extremely kind. They handle the most outlandish things (turtlenecked flamingos) with stark sincerity. Most importantly, they are still in touch with their 3-year-old selves.
Aside from being kings and queens of pleasing plots, leaders in children’s television are incredibly personable. Biz Thorsen, producer of Molly of Denali, always takes time to ask how everyone is doing– even me, the lowly intern. We share our trials and triumphs, our awe of Michael Jordan, and our interest in “Death Wish Coffee.” Connecting on a personal level (especially during remote work) is incredibly important for our daily collaboration.
Every frame — roughly 17 milliseconds — passes through 200 hands before it’s broadcasted to our viewers. As someone who spent most of her ‘athletic’ career being the ball girl, I am so happy to be included in a team where my feedback is requested and valued. I am so humbled knowing that I am part of those 200 hands!
Aside from connecting with several GBH teams, I have greatly expanded my industry vocabulary and hard skills. Abbreviations like EP (executive producer) and RFP (request for proposal) no longer leave me nodding blindly. ‘Walla’ is no longer just a funny word, but a term that comes up quite frequently in my recording and animatic vocabulary. (Walla, by the way, refers to non-word human sounds like background murmurs or snoring).
Aside from getting a grasp of this jargon, I have newfound confidence in reviewing media. I’ve offered PU’s (pickup lines) to fill an awkward silence, composition notes for overly complex music, and artistic notes about shadows and props. When I’m not reviewing media with the team, I complete administrative tasks. So far, this has included adding to an Alaska native language glossary, researching intercultural adoption, and writing audition sides.
While all of these responsibilities can be overwhelming, the heart of this career is rather simple: get in touch with your inner 3-year-old.