Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ernie “Rubber Duckie”

One of the most famous film lessons of Less Is More, came by accident. Failure even.

You perhaps know the story about how Steven Spielberg had a menacing mechanical shark made for the movie Jaws, but the robotic shark didn’t work too well.

Spielberg just wasn’t going to get these awesome action shots of the metal beast in action. But principle photography was already underway, so he had to shoot around the lack of a shark.

In the finished product, NOT being able to fully see the shark for most of the movie, is actually what made the movie so tense.

But it was all by success by subtraction.

Joe Moss, head writer in the early days of Sesame Street, had written a bath-time ditty for Ernie the Muppet to sing. It was the composer’s job to instruct the studio musicians on the instrumentation.

The story goes, that Moss came to the studio with a box of 100 Rubber Ducks, to create a giant squeaky chorus of Duckies behind Ernie. However, he was informed by the studio engineer that each Duck was considered a single instrument, and as such, he’d have to pay the Union rate for 100 musicians, to get his Duck chorus.

And here, Moss must have embraced Less, as More.

Please enjoy the charm of a single duck squeaking, on the classic (and #16 Billboard hit!), Rubber Duckie.

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