Last week I shared with you a bit of background about that time we created an Emmy Award winning preschool TV show…well, this week I’d love to talk with you about Season 1, filmed way back in 2012.

Jack and I had moved to Nashville to pursue my dream of creating a preschool television series (he’s always been super supportive of my creative whims and I’ve literally dragged him around the world as we make art…more on our global adventures later)…but, we found ourselves in Nashville and were getting very popular with local families. Soon, we started discussions with the PBS affiliate to work on a show together. To make a long (long, long) story short, the best business deal for us turned out to be not becoming production partners with them, but to create the entire series ourselves (meaning finance the entire thing ourselves) and simply use them as a distribution partner and presenting station.

A daunting task to be sure.

This meant Jack and I had to raise money for the production (we never received a single penny from any PBS Kids member station affiliates that broadcast our show…and there was over 150 of them). This was way before the days of Kickstarter and crowd funding. We had to put together an entire production team: cast, crew, the whole works. After pricing out what it “should” cost to make the series, we realized we needed to come up with a budget of what it “would” cost us. The “should” column was very, very high. The “would” column was significantly lower (it had to be: we were dirt broke and raising all money ourselves). So, we bought a secondhand laptop and a cheap camera and set to work learning how to be filmmakers. We spent six months wandering Nashville filming everything we saw and teaching ourselves the art of framing shots, editing on free software (what a nightmare) and working with sound, lighting and more. Our film school was this pre-production period…our graduation was the filming of the entire series in the course of a week. The post-production (i.e. editing) was our master’s degree and that took place over several months at coffeehouses (during the day) and honky-tonks on Broadway (late into the night). It was crazy, wild, fun, frustrating, madness.

Oh, and I forgot to mention while Jack was working on most of the organizational and technical duties, I was writing, arranging, performing and producing the entire soundtrack for the show…over 25 songs…with all programming done by myself on the shittiest of shit second laptops you’ve ever seen. It would crash constantly and when it wasn’t simply crashing it worked long enough for me to add a track, then I would have to reboot the entire machine to add another track. Most of the songs I programmed had well over 100 different tracks. One song I did had 327 different tracks (instruments)!! Imagine how long THAT process took!

And when we weren’t making the series we were out playing gigs trying to fund the series (and pay all our bills). Like I said, it was madness.

But somehow we managed to get it done. Dreams are powerful fuel.

Within the first two months of the series finally (finally, finally) launching we were picked up by most of the PBS Kids member stations nationwide. A month or so after that we were contacted by the US Pentagon to play a tour for the families of military folks stationed overseas. We also were broadcast on the AFN Family Network which meant our show was being broadcast in 175 countries to about 5 million viewers daily. Wild!! Not too shabby for a series that “should” have cost about $250,000 to make…but that Jack and I made for around $10,000!!

Of course, none of this yet translated to cold, hard cash…and it doesn’t really matter if five million people are watching you on TV every day…bills still needed to be paid, and so we hit the road. Hard. I’ll discuss that in a future blog posting, but for now, here’s the interstitial videos of Season 1 from The Zinghoppers Show.

You know, in watching these shows again (after almost a decade of NOT watching them), I’m struck by how much heart they had. We didn’t have any money to make this series. All we had was heart. There were other local kids TV productions happening at Nashville Public Television…they all had sponsors and financial backing. In fact one producer made sure our show would NEVER get sponsors or financial backing by using very, very immoral and manipulative tactics. She had money, but nothing else. And us? We had no money, but we had heart. And you should have seen the response our series had with young viewers! We literally received hundreds of emails every day from parents thanking us for our creation. You know, kids don’t care if things look like shit…they care if things have heart. And I’m proud that our show had it. Kids (and their families) connected to our simple message of peace, love and tolerance. All we wanted to do was make families happy…give them something positive, fun and goofy to groove to. We did that. And that makes me very, very proud.

I’d like to close this little blog entry by saying that you should never, ever let anything or anyone hold you back. I had a dream, and I went for it. Did things turn out exactly as I wanted or expected? No, but I had a hell of a lot of fun pursuing my dream…I had incredible adventures and made tons of memories with my soulmate Jack. We messed up a lot and lost tons of money, but we had fun. And if you have fun, you’ve won. Stay strong, Purrfect! Pursue your dreams, Purrfect! Dare to dream, Purrfect! And know I like you just the way you are, you’re special in every way, you’re the BEST at being you, and that’s why we sing today! 🙂


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