After almost 3 years of production, Kickstarter updates, festivals, and a group Skype session I had to miss, Copper Pot Picture’s Caroll Spinney documentary I Am Big Bird has finally been released! You can purchase it here through iTunes.
To those who received a digital download through their Kickstarter rewards, be sure to check your email for a link. That link will expire on May 12th, so don’t miss out!
I Am Big Bird is the incredible story of Caroll Spinney’s life, covering everything from his time in the army, his rocky relationship with Sesame Street director Jon Stone, and his mentoring of Matt Vogel. But at it’s core, I Am Big Bird is a love story about Caroll and his wife Debra. It’s a story so sweet that even Oscar would shed a tear.
This week Caroll will be appearing at a few screenings in New York City. These screenings include a Q&A with him and his wife (and Oscar has been known to make an appearance). These dates are:
Wednesday May 6th — Q&A following the 7:15pm show
Thursday May 7th — Q&A following the 7:15pm show
Friday May 8th — Q&A following the 7:25pm show
Saturday May 9th — Q&A following the 5:15pm show
Tickets for these sessions are available here.
Mitchell Stein has just recently watched the film for the very first time, and wrote us this fantastic review…
For the past few days after seeing the film, I find myself struggling to put my thoughts of I Am Big Bird into words. To simply be said, it’s unlike something the Muppet fan world has ever been treated to. Anyone who has been following this film along from its early development stages will be aware of the journey that filmmakers Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker have embarked on to capture the magic of the behind the scenes of the Muppets and Carroll’s life and continuing legacy. To say the duo have merely accomplished that mission would be an immense understatement.
I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story is a film that is inspiring, tear-jerking, heart-warming and loads of fun. It speaks on so many levels with multiple life lessons. Listening to Carroll tell over stories of how he had come over obstacles with stories I’m sure will continue to inspire many viewers. This film is not afraid to dive into difficult topics, and even shed some light on some backstage drama between Carroll Spinney and Sesame Street director Jon Stone. There are many scenes which will tug at your heart, including the famous “Goodbye Mr. Hooper” episode, and Big Bird at Jim Henson’s funeral might actually make you swell with tears.
An interesting element that this movie pulled off is the absence of a narrator. In this film, Carroll, along with friends and colleagues guide the story by providing their narrative. Some of the legendary lineup of interviewees include Bob Grath, Frank Oz, Heather Henson, Matt Vogel, Norman Stiles, and many others. Probably the greatest thing is seeing Jerry Nelson and hearing Jane Henson provide their narrative to the story which is a wonderful tribute and awesome on so many levels.
The movie also covers the rise and minor decline of Big Bird’s popularity during the early to the present days of Sesame Street. The cast and crew shares some thoughts on Big Bird taking a back seat to Elmo’s major popularity, but how Big Bird and Oscar continue to live on and still remain a popular part of the show. It also provides great insight from Matt Vogel on being Carroll’s apprentice to Big Bird and the effect Big Bird has had on pop culture throughout the nearly half-century.
One of my favorite things about I Am Big Bird is the massive library of footage that the filmmakers have managed to get hold of and showcase. The Spinneys’ library of behind-the-scenes footage is an incredible collection. The crowning piece in that collection for me, is the amazing footage Carroll shot during production of Muppet Family Christmas which features Jim, Frank, Steve and others acting goofy and working their magic over their heads. It’s wonderfully spectacular, and just one of the many moments in this film that will make Muppet fans squeal with delight.
As wonderful as the behind-the-scenes insight goes, this film is aboutso much more. As much as this story is about Carroll and Big Bird, it’s very much about the love between Carroll and his wife Debra. Their relationship is the central heart of the entire film, and shares the perfect amount of heart without taking away from the reason Muppet fans are watching in the first place. Seeing how Carroll can turn a lifeless bird costume into a living breathing lovable character is the perfect example of taking us behind the camera and how the magic is made. It’s the stuff that us Muppet fans yearn to see, and you will not be disappointed.
I Am Big Bird is a wonderful film about a wonderful man named Carroll Spinney. Whether that name rings a bell or not, chances are that Carroll has had an impact at some point in your life. This movie showcases that marvelous journey that Carroll has embarked on forty-five years ago and the impact that Big Bird and Oscar have had since that very first season. It’s a remarkable documentary that should captivate the majority of Muppet fans. It’s a film that will move you, inspire you, and make you swell with tears at times. Honestly, bring a box of tissues. You’re going to need it.
I AM BIG BIRD: The Carroll Spinney Story is now available for purchase on iTunes and in select theaters tomorrow.