Fort McMurray-raised puppeteer helps Apple TV+’s Fraggle Rock reboot


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Brendan James Boyd fell in love with puppets on Franklin Ave. One year old as a child, his parents brought him to the InterPlay Festival, an annual arts and music festival that took place in Fort McMurray until 2013. As he watched a puppeteer bring to life puppets, he knew he wanted to work with them when he was growing up.

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“After that, I was absolutely obsessed with puppets,” Boyd said. “I would take all the books out of the library and study and try to figure out how to build them.”

Now 34, Boyd is a professional puppeteer and his latest gig is on the Apple TV+ reboot of fragglerocka children’s musical produced by legendary puppeteer Jim Henson between 1983 and 1987.

Fraggle Rock: back to the rock began production in January 2021 at the Calgary Film Center and wrapped last June. A statement from the Jim Henson Company said Calgary was chosen because of Alberta’s film and television tax credit and its COVID-19 policies. The 13-episode series began airing on January 21.

“I think filming the show here is really going to help put Alberta on the map for puppetry in Canada,” he said.

After his experience at InterPlay, Boyd began his journey at Keyano College studying visual and performing arts, which the college discontinued in 2012. He worked as a props assistant for Ghostbusters: Afterlifewhich was filmed primarily in southwestern Alberta, and as a puppet builder in the television series Warning: may contain nuts.

The series finale for the original Fraggle Rock aired in March 1987, a month before Boyd was born. But he was still exposed to the show through VHS copies.

However, how he got the job of puppeteer was accidental. When Boyd learned that the Jim Henson Company wanted to shoot the show in Calgary, he had walked away from the puppets and was working behind the scenes designing puppets for other productions.

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He applied for a job as a puppet builder as colleagues began to be hired by the show’s production company. Boyd openly admits he bombed the interview, but one of the executives was able to say his passion was performing. An audition was held for the puppeteers to demonstrate their skills, such as mouth action, lip synchronization and eye contact.

“It was crazy. I didn’t think it was going to happen at all. My heart was racing all the time. I didn’t think it was real,” Boyd said.

Boyd was chosen to be part of the ensemble along with 11 other Alberta artists puppeter. The other puppetThe eers were a part of everything on set, from being extra Fraggles in scenes to being front and center with the main characters.

An appetite for real, practical effects has boosted the popularity of puppetry in recent years, Boyd said, adding that the skill set is suddenly part of many upcoming projects. The 12 based in Alberta puppetParticipants in the Fraggle Rock reboot are now collaborating on their own project.

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