Brendan James Boyd is living the dream of every Muppets-loving man. He spent five months last year as a puppeteer filming the Fraggle Rock revival, and its first season just dropped in late January.
ST. ALBERT – With one of the newest shows to appear, there’s a familiar face for St. Albert viewers that you won’t see on screen. Brendan James Boyd is there, just out of sight, and his hands are working small-screen magic at the controls of some of the colorful main characters.
AppleTV+ has offered the first of 14 episodes of the Jim Henson Company revival Fraggle Rock: back to the rock January 21. Boyd, a puppeteer who was previously a puppet builder on the set of Warning: may contain nuts and also worked in the accessories department on Ghostbusters: Afterlifesaid that this concert also rekindled his lifelong love for puppets.
“The funny thing about all of this is…I actually quit puppetry and now because of that my career as a puppeteer is picking up again, which is so beautiful,” laughed the 34 year old player.
The series filmed for five months last year in Calgary. Boyd was in Edmonton at the time and had reached a point where he had to make some tough choices about how much you should sacrifice to work in “the business”. The vast majority of puppet concerts were in New York or Los Angeles, just in case you wanted to know how to get to sesame streetor Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, for that matter.
At the time, the struggling artist simply didn’t have the money.
“I had given up on this happening and moved on to more design work, then I heard it was happening in Calgary,” he continued, calling for his own denial of this. possibility.
He thought the show would have brought his own team from the United States. There’s no chance he’ll be hired, he thought at the time, and so he passed up the opportunity.
“As production got closer and the people I was working with in design were hired on the show, I started getting itchy. So, I reached out to them.”
He scored an interview for being a puppet builder, but his excited nerves didn’t help his case, he admitted.
“I had this interview and, of course, I was so nervous. I was shaking because ‘Oh my god, I had an interview with the Jim Henson Company. I never thought this would happen.’ Totally bombed the interview, but in the interview, the person interviewing me – one of the managers of the Creature Shop in New York – she just cut me off mid-sentence and said, “You want be an artist, don’t you?'”
He was at a band audition in Calgary two days later, and a month later he was engaged.
Fraggle Rock for the uninitiated is a family comedy musical series based in a cave where various anthropomorphic creatures sing, dance and do their weird merrymaking. There are Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs, and Silly Creatures in a cave. They depend on each other in the symbiotic environment but, being different species, they don’t always know how best to communicate. It’s all fun, though, and there are plenty of coexistence lessons for adult viewers to learn, too.
What Boyd has already learned is that this is serious business and it made him serious about puppets again.
“It’s amazing. We were the rookie puppeteers on set, but it was such a set. We never felt like we were less good puppeteers,” he explained. “We’ve always all worked together and that’s because puppetry is such a collaborative art form: everyone’s there, everyone’s involved, and everyone’s hand is in something just so the plan works. It was crazy. It was a dream come true. It was absolutely a dream come true.”
While waiting to find out if a season two of the series could be in its future, it has a fallback plan. The show’s 12 Alberta-based puppeteers (including Edmonton’s DerRic Starlight) are all collaborating and opening their own new studio with a sci-fi puppet pilot in the works.
“It ignited this flame that the puppet community in Alberta really needed to restart. It’s going to have a really nice effect on the community here and I think you’re going to see a lot of really cool puppet work coming out of it. To hit.”
Another side gig he has in the works is working with the Calgary Arts Collective. His interview for this article came right after participating in a Zoom meeting with a 5th grade class. He loves introducing children to the joys of puppets, he exclaims.