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A TV Show


Play With Your Food! (PWYF!) is a children's show about food and everything it teaches us. The show's mission is to encourage kids to learn about the world and express themselves through the global language of food.

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A TV Show


Play With Your Food! (PWYF!) is a children's show about food and everything it teaches us. The show's mission is to encourage kids to learn about the world and express themselves through the global language of food.

As creator and show-runner for Play With Your Food!, my intention was to develop a kid's entertainment concept that would translate to tv, the web, a cookbook, and an app.

The PWYF! team spent months identifying and refining the show's purpose—we aimed to produce a kid's cooking show that explored language, math, science, chemistry, art, and cooking through the lens of a featured ingredient.

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Research


To get inspired, we (gleefully) re-watched our favorite kid's TV shows. We focused on how each was successful at humorously conveying an educational message to a diverse audience.

Research


To get inspired, we (gleefully) re-watched our favorite kid's TV shows. We focused on how each was successful at humorously conveying an educational message to a diverse audience.

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We wanted to emulate shows with strong design principles that ensured the content that was educational while entertaining—shows like Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba and Pee Wee's Playhouse. Our goal was to create a deeply smart TV show—a show whose lessons and stories functioned as vehicles for sophisticated conversations with kids and their parents. 

Each classic show we researched shared six characteristics:

1. A cast of kids, adults and puppets
2. A modular show structure
3. Strong and diverse characters
4. An engaging narrative that teaches a "life lesson" 
5. Live music
6. Bite-sized educational segments 

These pillars were integral in how we set out to design our own show structure. 

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Synthesize


After reviewing 100's of hours of kid's shows, we aligned on our show's core values and design principles. PWYF! would have a strong narrative that ran through the show, as well as fluid vignettes geared towards education.

Synthesize


After reviewing 100's of hours of kid's shows, we aligned on our show's core values and design principles. PWYF! would have a strong narrative that ran through the show, as well as fluid vignettes geared towards education.

Children are a sophisticated audience that quickly understands and applies concepts. However, children need structure to learn quickly—the show's format needed consistency so expectations and excitement would grow from episode to episode. 

So, we created a 'show recipe'—a list of necessary thematic elements that served as a foundation for each episode. Each show began with a theme ingredient that tied together the narrative, recipe, kitchen tool, food, and story themes. The featured ingredient functioned like the letter and number elements on Sesame Street or the word of the day on Pee Wee's Playhouse.

Here is an example of an episode's structure:

Episode 11 - "Putting Your Carbon Footprint In Your Mouth"

by: Danny Brooks + Josh Nathan
ELEMENT #1 // The Ingredient: Tofu. Soft and silky soybean cake that represents the health food movement. Being healthy is great but pushing your beliefs on people can be annoying.
ELEMENT #2 // The Narrative: CHEF DANNY needs a vacation. When ONION reveals he’s never been camping, they set out to spend a night in the woods. The two are interrupted by TOFU claiming to be an experienced camper. TOFU, who litters, wears leather shoes, and checks his always-plugged-in laptop, won’t shut up about living green, reducing your carbon footprint, and sustainability.
TOFU insists on joining ONION and CHEF DANNY on their trip. At dinner, TOFU insists on a vegan meal. CHEF DANNY barbecues some tofu over the campfire. They sing about the role of soybeans in diets and economies of people around the world. After dinner, ONION wants s’mores but TOFU insists chocolate and marshmallows are not vegan.
CHEF DANNY breaks and explains it’s important to “do”, not just “talk”. He explains ways in which he uses sustainable food sources but, admits he could do more. TOFU is humbled by CHEF DANNY'S honesty. The three friends make s’mores together. TOFU goes back for seconds. 
ELEMENT #3 // The Recipe: BBQ tofu marinated with smoky paprika, oregano, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil. 
ELEMENT #4 // The Kitchen Tool: A charcoal barbecue. The audience learns about safely starting a fire and how to cook using coals.
ELEMENT #5 // Food Themes: Unexpected ingredients, green alternatives and sustainability. 
ELEMENT #6 // Story Themes: Don't be a know-it-all. Talk is cheap.

drawing by emily jan

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Brainstorm


With a workflow and structure supporting the core concept of the show, we plugged in ideas and fleshed them out into full episodes. The results were amazing—we wrote the pilot and sketched 16 episodes in two weeks!  

Brainstorm


With a workflow and structure supporting the core concept of the show, we plugged in ideas and fleshed them out into full episodes. The results were amazing—we wrote the pilot and sketched 16 episodes in two weeks!  

We wrote nearly 20 drafts of the pilot before we had an episode that represented our core values and believably developed PWYF's! main characters (a neurotic purple Onion, a sultry French Strawberry, a Rastafarian Rigatoni, and Chef Danny).

Once we locked script, we dove into the construction of the Play With Your Food! universe—we sketched puppet designs, developed child-friendly recipes, decided on set design, and produced wireframes for the app.

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Prototype


With a completed script, fully functional puppets, and an enthusiastic cast of actors and puppeteers, we were finally ready to shoot a pilot! 

Prototype


With a completed script, fully functional puppets, and an enthusiastic cast of actors and puppeteers, we were finally ready to shoot a pilot! 

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It's always exciting to enter the production phase of a project! The pace increases, the team grows, and the results inch closer. Production for Play With Your Food! spanned two weeks, with principle photography shot in Los Angeles and additional footage shot in San Francisco.

Shooting the pilot was just the beginning of the 'making' process as we then spent months in post-production, editing, composing music, producing visual effects, color correcting, recording ADR, and mixing for the final print. Simultaneously, we worked with a development team to churn out a demo of the app, a website, and print-ready mockups of a companion cookbook and show bible.

The Creation of "ONION"

 

  Production Stills

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Implement


This project and its amazing team yielded some of my best work to date. We achieved the goals we set out to accomplish and had a great time throughout the process.

Implement


This project and its amazing team yielded some of my best work to date. We achieved the goals we set out to accomplish and had a great time throughout the process.

We released Play With Your Food! to schools and after-school programs in the Los Angeles area. The show positively influenced kids around the city to take an interest in cooking, understand what they eat, and helped them view the world through the lens of a delicious meal.

For more information, click here.

THE PILOT Sizzle reel


THE COOKBOOK


THE APP


PWYF! Kid's "Show Bible"


PWYF! Full Episode


PWYF! ADULT "Show bible"

 Concept development for an animated adult parody of the Play With Your Food! children's show.

Concept development for an animated adult parody of the Play With Your Food! children's show.


PWYF! (Adult Parody) Full Episode