There are writers..and then there are WRITERS that breathe such creativity & understanding of their characters into their work, which ultimately leads to an engaged audience. This week we take another behind-the-scenes look at one of our WRITERS for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. We sat down with Writer/Story Editor extraordinaire, Becky Friedman (@That_Girl_Becky) to hear about her experiences writing for the series.
Explain your role as Writer/Story Editor and a bit about your creative process.
My role as staff writer is to write scripts. LOTS and LOTS of scripts.
Also, as a part of the creative team, I’m involved in the conceptualization of each episode, working to generate the elements needed for a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode: a social-emotional theme, a musical strategy, the essential ‘Fred’ approach, a dramatic story arc, & of course, lots of imagination!
My role as the story editor is, essentially, to be the guardian of the ‘voice’ of the show.
So for every stage of every script, I do an editing pass to make sure that the characters sound like our characters, that the story feels authentic, & most of all, that the scripts are… you know…good! I try to balance keeping the individual color & flavor of each script with the overall voice & vision of the series.
My creative process moves fluidly between creative collaboration & solitary confinement. Initially, I hammer out the germ of the story idea with Angela. Then, I head off on my own to flesh out that idea into a more full story. We send those ideas out to the Out of the Blue Creative team, & they’re discussed, shaped, & crafted by the group. Then, it’s back to my writer cave to work on the draft one of the script! Back to my boss, & the rest of the team & then back to my writer cave…and so forth, until at last I send the Final Production Script to our producer, breathe a deep sigh of relief…& start all over again.
What is your favorite aspect of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”?
I have 2 favorites! From the perspective of a former preschool teacher (which I am) I love that this show is teaching kids how to be people in the world. Essential things like: how to be a good friend, how to deal with mad feelings, how to express love, how to share, & why if you take a highly anxious & neurotic owl camping, you will live to regret it. I take that responsibility very seriously.
From a creative perspective, I love writing for characters with such colorful & distinct personalities. It’s great fun, as a writer, to sit down and think “what can I throw at Miss Elaina that will challenge her?” or “What can we do to turn Daniel Tiger’s world upside down?” or, my favorite, “What would be the silliest possible thing we could make O the Owl do?” Having such great characters to write for really leads to endless story possibilities.
Oh shoot, I just thought of a 3rd favorite aspect. The music! I really love the music on the show.
Which character in the series do you most relate to & why?
The character that I’m most like is, without a doubt, Miss Elaina. She’s quirky, she’s silly, she’s impulsive & quick to react, she’s mischievous, impatient, passionate, & she likes to have things her own way. My parents, my boyfriend, my therapist, my friends, my co-workers, & probably anyone reading this Q&A will pretty much all agree…that’s me. Heck, if it was appropriate for an adult to wear a backwards-dress to work…I’d do it.
However, I’m also really excited about a NEW character we’ll be introducing later on in the season. I won’t say much about her except that her name is Chrissie, she’s a real spark-plug, she has a lot that she can teach kids, & I really went to bat to get her on the show. I can’t wait for everyone to meet her!
What was the funniest moment for you while making the show?
You want ONE funniest moment? When your weekly meetings include discussions of how many meows per sentence is intelligible (2), how much glitter is too much (there’s no limit!) & if there’s a way to incorporate more pickles per episode (there is a way, & her name is Becky)…funny moments abound.
We pretty much live to make each other giggle around here.
I just remembered my other favorite character: Daniel’s stuffed tiger, Tige-y. His name is a reference to a beloved stuffed eagle…aptly named Eage-y.
Becky Friedman is a staff writer and story editor for Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC. Becky has written & story edited for the emmy-nominated, PBS hit superhero literacy show Super Why! & is currently writing & story editing for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Becky also writes mysteries for Dramatic Fanatic, & wrote & created “Yoga with Becky,” for Kids Health. Prior to becoming a writer, Becky taught a pre-k program in a full-inclusion preschool in San Francisco. Becky also contributed an essay for the anthology: When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic & the Difference it Made.
Becky your job sounds wonderful!!!! Thank you for helping to create such a wonderful show and characters for kids 🙂
Chrissie, eh? 🙂 I wonder who SHE’S related to? 😉
Thank you for this wonderful show. I have the honor of being a mom to a brilliant 4 year old with high-functioning Autism. This show is perfect for kids with ASD. The day after we watched the first show, he wanted to do show & tell. When I told him that he wasn’t supposed to have show & tell until the next day, he immediately said, “I feel disappointed.” He then proceeded to sing “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.” (complete with the choreography of a spin). He then proceeded to tell me that he was excited to see his friends at school that day. We have seen him be able to quickly translate the lessons from other episodes into real life, as well. This is the only show he has ever watched that elicits this type of response. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful note. If it’s ok with you, I’d love to post it up here because we’ve received similar comments and are pleased to be able to benefit many children with ASD. Take care of that brilliant 4 yr old of yours please.
My sons who are 3 and 4 really love Daniel Tiger and would like to send a thank you card to Daniel for teaching them everyone can help with something no matter what size they are! A special thank you from me as well. One episode turned my son’s perspective to helping me into a more positive experience for everyone. Thanks!
Daniel said,”You’re welcome”. Thanks for your note. It really means a lot to us over here!!
I can’t begin to thank you for your work as a writer and editor. Thank you to you and your creative team! When my daughter turned 2, she potty- trained herself after watching the potty episode. She began asking to do chores around the house at 3 after watching, “you can be a big helper in your family.” We also hear “grring” when she’s frustrated! Ha! Daniel has taught her and our family soo much! Thank you and keep it coming. We just watched Love Day and she was all smiles!!
Thanks Rachel. I’m not an editor but I’ll pass your kind words onto the team. I’m so very happy that your daughter’s getting so much out of Daniel Tiger..we really enjoy making the program & hearing reactions like yours!!
Just had to say Thank You and I appreciate yours and all efforts of anyone who takes part in making and keeping Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood possible and AWESOME!!! The wholesomeness of the show, the creativity without worrying about “changing with the phases” and the Love and concern obviously put into the show, makes it a show my 3 year old son and I ALWAYS Look forward too and ENJOY!!!
Much thanks Christina. There’s plenty of “love & concern” put into every script!
I loved Mr Rogers and I love Daniel Tiger for my grandchildren. I’m a teacher and my only problem is calling Valentine’s Day ️love day. Kids laugh and say what is wrong with Daniel. Doesn’t he know the correct name of toda???
I’m happy to hear about the love for Mr Rogers as well as Daniel Tiger!
Speaking of love, we gave a lot of thought to the term “Valentine’s Day” in our episode & after much deliberation, we felt that especially to a preschooler (our target audience), the word LOVE means so much more than VALENTINE’S & it can be expressed and shared 365 days throughout the year, as opposed to simply 1 day in February. There are many that share your sentiment which I understand, we simply feel strong about the “take home message” of every episode, and “LOVE day” seems to have the most connection & a stronger “take home message” for the little ones. Thanks Susan!