Ask any kid, recess is the most important part of the school day. It is a child’s only unstructured time to blow off steam, run like crazy, connect with close friends, get lost in long-running imaginary narratives, or just sit still and think. Beeswax Productions asked kids for their recess stories and spoke with dozens of children in grades 3-8. These anecdotes became the basis for Recess Stories, a fictional, live action web series for kids about life on the playground. Can boys join the Kangaroo Club? Why have all the pink things gone missing? When recess is only twenty minutes long, is 15 minutes on The Wall a life sentence? If no one can see you on the playground, does that mean you have the power of invisibility? Each 2-4 minute episode features a complete story which is loosely based on actual events such as: The Invisible Kid, Princess Twin, The Boy Who Eats Anything, Circle Game, Accidentally on Purpose, Kangaroo Club, Rat Story, and The Girl Who Stole Everything Pink.
More and more kids get their entertainment and information online; they play games, watch their favorite TV shows, stream movies, do research for homework. Kids have their own personal mobile devices –smart phones, mp3 players, game consoles and touchscreen tablets– and are listening to music, watching videos and playing games on the bus, in the car and after school. But aside from a few gaming sites and interactive websites for existing TV shows, there has been very little original web content made for kids under the age of 12. Parents want their kids watching age-appropriate content and kids are eager for entertainment that depicts children like themselves. Recess Stories fills both needs as one of the few original live-action web series produced specifically for kids. It can be streamed, downloaded or watched on a digital TV for free.
Kenton Jakub and Shelley Latham of Beeswax Productions believed it would be possible to shoot a 12-episode web series for kids during the summer in a small town in Maine. Kenton is a film editor and Shelley is an actress with years of experience directing youth theater. They started Beeswax Productions to make children’s movies that feature kids– not cartoons, not talking animals, not 8 year olds pretending to be 18– just kids being kids. During three weeks in the summer of 2010, Beeswax worked with a rotating cast of 41 kids aged 7-13 and a crew of 6 local teenagers, shooting an episode each afternoon, with regular breaks for snacks and, well, recess. They applied the same working philosophy that Shelley uses with her play productions: create the conditions and the opportunity for everybody to be amazing. Expect nothing less. The result? Not quite like anything you have ever seen– it’s Peanuts meets Seinfeld, on the playground.
Recess Stories was shot entirely on location in Maine during the summer of 2010 and had its release online spring 2011. Episodes are available online for streaming at www.Recess-Stories.com, YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, Facebook, and iTunes.