One of my guilty pleasures is the MTV series Catfish. I love it. Jack and I both do. I’m pretty sure we’ve watched every episode…thanks to how much time we have spent in hotel rooms that usually play nothing but old episodes of Ridiculousness (and an occasional episode of Catfish). Seriously though, how many eps are there of Ridiculousness? It’s insane!! ;p
Well, anyhow, I think the reason I love Catfish so much (apart from Max Joseph being one of my favorite filmmakers), is that we lived through our very own Catfish. And it happened during the filming of Season 2 of “The Zinghoppers Show”. Earlier this week, I told you about the Madness Of Pursuing Your Dreams, Or Making An Emmy Award Winning Preschool TV Show That Should Have Cost $250K For $10K. That post includes videos from Season 1 of “The Zinghoppers Show”, the series Jack and I co-created, co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed, co-edited, co-starred and co-went-insane-over-making, which ended up being broadcast on PBS Kids member stations nationwide. I also talked about That Time We Created An Emmy Award Winning Preschool TV Show in an earlier post dedicated to random videos and reflections on the birth of the Zinghoppers.
Today, I’d like to share with you some videos from Season 2, the season we ended up filming without a “real” director. This was years before Jack and I realized we WERE the damn directors all along!
You see, after the successful launch of Season 1 we started getting pretty popular and receiving lots of attention in the media for our show. We also were playing upwards of 600 live events a year at malls, theaters, fairs, festivals and other family-friendly venues. Doing this much stuff publicly is tons of fun but has a tendency to draw out the crazies. And boy, oh boy, could I tell you some stories about all the crazies (we seemed to attract them like magnets back in the day…now we know the “warning signs”). In fact, we co-wrote an entire book about our experience with two stalkers! You can download the eBook for free (or support us by getting a paperbook or ebook copy of “Two Stalkers One Goal” at any major retailer worldwide).
Well, during the time leading up to filming Season 2 of “The Zinghoppers Show”, we met a real crazy…but he sure didn’t seem like it at the time. In fact, he presented himself as a hot-shot television director with tons of experience working on shows like Barney and Friends, The Wiggles and other huge kids properties. He had pictures on the set of Sesame Street and his IMDb was poppin’. I mean, as poppin’ as your IMDb can be when you have pictures of yourself hanging out with Elmo (hehe). That said, this guy seemed like the real deal and promised he could take the series Jack and I had started and launch it into the stratosphere. One thing this experience taught me is that anyone that promises you things like this, most likely can’t. And those that can, most likely don’t need to say they can. Ah well, life does have a way of giving you learning lessons…
And oh, how Jack and I learned. After several meetings we struck up a deal to hire this guy, and it wouldn’t be cheap. We went headfirst into debt knowing we would come out the other end rich and famous. Things moved along. I kept writing, programming and producing the tracks. I also took a more active role in the choreography and set design. Jack kept dealing with all the logistics of hiring cast and crew, securing locations and all the legals. We decided to film the songs in front of a live audience which was a nightmare logistically. Somehow we managed. Along the way, we realized – a few days after our retainer check of 50% for our “director” was cashed, that he mysteriously became very busy and started missing pre-production team meetings. We started to fear the worst but wanted to stay positive…besides things were too far along to simply “replace” him, and we were already flat broke anyways. Thankfully, he did arrive for dress rehearsals and promised us he’d take care of finding camera operators and coordinate their equipment. He also stayed for quite awhile to chat it up with the girls of our dance team (who were Tennessee Titans cheerleaders looking to make some extra money during the off-season).
The day before the shoot was to start Jack called him to confirm load-in times and see who the camera team would be (we were promised and planned for a five camera, five person shoot). He said he hadn’t gotten to that yet and would work on it tomorrow. Keep in mind, the shoot – with five hundred audience members and a cast/crew of 30 people we had hired – was starting tomorrow! Jack and I lost it. We went into panic mode and started to take matters into our own hands.
We didn’t sleep a minute that night and worked nonstop until the first note of the first song started at the taping the next day. And the director that yelled “Action?” Well, that would have been me…as the Catfish we had hired never showed up. Probably all for the best, as this Kitty definitely would have wanted to scratch! 😉
Somehow we got through the shoot…Jack and I told cast and crew that the “Director” they were all excited to be working with had gotten sick…and we would be taking his spot. In addition to having on-screen roles…in front of our live audience…we also would lead the project as Co-Directors.
And you know what? Damned if the thing didn’t turn out a hundred times better than Season 1! Maybe it’s because we spent more money on the overall production, maybe we were more experienced, or maybe it was because we were pissed. And we turned that rage into art. Into fire. Into passion. We said “fuck it” and we jumped off the side of the cliff. And I think we made something really, really, REALLY special.
If you’re still reading this to hear the end of the story…congrats, we made it: Jack and I finished the series and it was a huge success. Once the dust cleared, we slept for about three ways and then crawled back to the land of the living to start Googling our hot-shot “Director”. Long story short: his entire IMDb page was fabricated. He didn’t “direct” any of those shows, he had volunteered as a production assistant. Jack called every production company he was associated with: he was never on any payroll for any those hit properties, he was a volunteer PA. That explains how we saw photos of him with a young Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Oscar The Grouch…it also explains how he had no clue what a “Director” does (other than talk with the hot cheerleaders on set). We were catfished, and catfished hard. We marched forward. It’s all we could do. It’s all we know. Marching forward.
I learned a lot during the making of Season 2. Sure, I learned how to sniff out a catfish. And I learned filming a show with 500 kids and parents in the audience is brutal. But more than anything I learned how resourceful my soulmate and I truly are…when we rely on ourselves. The moral of the story, Purrfect, is to encourage you today to remember how strong, smart and successful you TRULY are. I believe in you. Maybe I believe in you more than you believe in you. And that’s ok. My mission in life is no longer to be rich and famous…no! Now my mission in life is a simple one: to show you love and light. Your love. Your light.
It starts with every new breath you take. Inhale love and light. Exhale all that doesn’t serve you. Inhale love and light. Over and over and over again. You got this!
PS: If you have families with little ones in your life, I know they’d enjoy our music. It’s available on every major online retailer and streaming site worldwide (just search for “The Zinghoppers!”). Albums are available in our shop as well. Thanks for your continued support.
Don’t miss the entire Zinghoppers Blog Series…
Part 1: That Time We Created An Emmy Award Winning Preschool TV Show
Part 2: The Madness Of Pursuing Your Dreams And Making An Emmy Award Winning Preschool TV Show That Should Have Cost $250K…For $10K
Part 3: On This Episode Of Catfish, Or Filming The Next Season Of Our Emmy Award Winning Preschool TV Show Without A “Real” Director
Part 4: That Time The US Pentagon Sent Us To 19 Countries On A World Tour With The Zinghoppers Show
Part 5: That Time The Co-Founder Of Poison, New-Age Pianist Lorie Line And Preschool Star Dr. Jean Worked With Us On An Album…The Zinghoppers Show
Part 6: The Zinghoppers Show – A Visual Scrapbook