I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

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USA | 2014 | 90 minutes | Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker

June 14, 2014

Through deeply personal interviews and never-before-seen home videos, this is a beautiful, accomplished, and moving portrait of Caroll Spinney, who has performed as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street” for over 40 years.

“Big Bird is the most popular children’s character in the world and I think that’s largely due to Caroll.” (Jim Henson) Caroll Spinney has performed as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street” for over 40 years. Directors LaMattina and Frost (SIFF 2011 favorite Brownstones to Red Dirt) were given extraordinary access to Spinney’s home video archive that dates back to the 1950s and masterfully crafted a reconstruction of a warm-hearted puppeteer who has imbued the puppets with his soul. The narrative carefully explores not just Spinney’s greatest successes, of which there are many, but also his deepest challenges, including Big Bird’s fall from popularity in the ’90s and a shocking murder investigation on his property. Using current interviews with Spinney’s family and “Sesame Street” costars as well as never-before-seen home movies capturing intimate moments from his life and career, I Am Big Bird reveals the creation of characters that have influenced generations of children. And, as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the Muppet, who will teach us the greatest lesson of all—how to love unconditionally.

Director Biography

Dave graduated from Boston College with a degree in Communications and went on to get his Master’s in Film at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. After enduring as much L.A. traffic as he could stand, Dave headed back east to put his skills into practice. He has experience directing all over the world on a variety of different shoots and projects. Having spent time writing for commercial clients and working in development with Hollywood studios, Dave also functions as Copper Pot’s scribe.

  • Director: Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker
  • Principal Cast: Caroll Spinney, Debra Spinney, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Bob McGrath
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Producer: Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker, Clay Frost
  • Screenplay: Dave LaMattina
  • Cinematographers: Chad Walker
  • Editors: Chad Walker
  • Music: Joshua Johnson
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Brownstones to Red Dirt (Doc, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Preferred Content