Treeples Updates

Weekly Updates on the Progress of my MFA Project, "Treeples!"

Grants & Scholarships

I am so happy to announce that the pilot episode of Treeples has received several scholarships and grants. 

One of the first grants received was from the University of Connecticut. I received a Dean's Grant from the School of Fine Arts, and that went towards hiring a professional production sound person for the week of the shoot. 


In April of 2015, I was notified that I had received one of two Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarships through the Fred Rogers Foundation, funded by Ernst & Young. I received the award at the Emmy Foundation's College Television Awards.



With my Director of Photography, Letty Gallegos, we were able to apply and receive the Grant for Women Cinematographers from the Digital Bolex company. They supplied the production with a free camera and camera gear rental for the week of the shoot. It was incredible!

We also received a grant from the Puffin Foundation, which really helped out with our production expenses! Thanks to these grants and scholarships, the pilot episode of Treeples was an incredibly well produced piece, and I am excited to share it soon!


The Monster - Design & Build

As of two weeks ago, we began building the monster. I call the students helping me out "The Monster Squad" and they mainly consist of Shane, Nic, Austin & Ana. It's been a lot of fun to experiment. Here is the progress so far! 

Set-Etiquette Workshop

In October, I held a "Setiquette Workshop" for everyone at the Puppet Arts Complex. I taught the basic structure of a film set before we worked on Paul Spirito's puppet film, "Ancestral," which will be premiering in the Fall of 2015. 

About 15 people came, and everyone got to play with a C-stand, learn some jargon, and watch me take things out of my Production Assistant Fanny Pack... the most important tool you'll ever have.

Concept, Research and Script Process

Once Upon a Time,

Sarah Nolen knew she wanted to do a TV show for her MFA Project. And she knew that she wanted it to be a show that empowered girls. And she knew it should be with puppets.

"What Girls Need" Chart

So this picture is one of the humble beginnings. It was a chart I drew up of what "Girls Need." Looking at it now, it's more of a "Lessons girls need more of" chart. But it helped me to really think of all the different themes and teachings that I think could be stronger in children's media. 

Another chart I made was in considering the different stereotypes of boys and girls. After making this chart for myself, I read a study done by the Geena Davis Foundation called "Equity or Eye Candy: Exploring the Nature of Sex-Roles in Children's Television Programming," which complimented the idea of a show just for girls, infusing media with more female roles for children to "choose from" rather than stereotypical behaviors.  

Thus began the idea of having three friends who obey no social-gender rules. I want the show to reside in a world of unruly play, where silliness can lead to carefree delight, which ultimately leads to self-control and confidence. 

Improvisational Comedy Workshop

As part of gearing up for the shoot, I taught an eleven-week long workshop in improvisational comedy every Tuesday at the Puppet Arts Complex. We started with Human Improv, then moved to Puppet Improv, and finally, Monitor Improv Work. It was a great way to get the performers in a supportive and free-thinking mindset. It also makes monitor practice really fun.

Designing the Treeples!


Designing the Treeples was one of the toughest parts of the process so far. I've only ever designed puppets by just building from scratch, so, to illustrate and then build from drawn-out characters is a new challenge.

Once I got used to it, though, I was pretty happy!

Location Scouting

At the beginning of the semester, I was able to do a lot of location scouts before it got to below 50º outside! For the pilot, I'm on the look out for a couple of woodsy-areas:

1) A clearing in the woods

2) An area for the Treeples' "Hovel"

3) A place to fight the Monster

Here are some of my findings:


Roadrunner & Nipmuck Trail - 9/6/2014


Mansfield Hollow - 9/8/2014


Woods of a Friend - 9/9/2014


Storrs Adventure Park - 9/14/2014

This place has great potential for the "Hovel" of the three Treeples. This is where the Treeples tell the Girl the legend of the Monster. 

I'm still searching for some distinct spots, but I have a feeling Connecticut will definitely provide.