CQU alumnus proud of Sesame Street collaboration

Published:24 August 2020

Alumnnus Wayne Denning's ‘A’ is for Animals segment appeared in the US as part of the 50th anniversary season and has more recently screened in Australia on the ABC.

CQUniversity alumnus Wayne Denning is proud of his company, Carbon Creative’s, contribution of the short film ‘A’ is for animals to the iconic children’s television program Sesame Street’s Season 50 recently.

The collaboration had great synergy for Carbon Creative as while it aimed to meet the needs of Sesame Workshop (the outreach arm of Sesame Street), it also aligned with Carbon Creative’s core values – to promote positive social change including diversity and inclusion.

“While, year-on-year Carbon Creative looks forward to the opportunity to produce new content – ‘A’ is for Animals included – our primary focus in recent years is less on TV and more on advancing the development of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood program, with Sesame Workshop as our partner,” Wayne explained.

“Using their tried and tested early childhood education model, there will be a great synergy there once the program has been localised by and for our First Nation’s experts, families and communities.”

This year, Wayne said Carbon Creative set out to produce something for Sesame’s Letters and Numbers segment, showcasing Australian animals for the letter A.

“It made sense to promote our beautiful Australian native animals, as well as some extra they were keen to include, and work with our local Wildlife Warriors, the Irwins, and Australia Zoo.”

“‘A’ is for Animals was fun to make. Getting up close and personal with the animals – who do things their own way – and also working with the Irwins, who were the ultimate professionals and a lovely family.

“We never stop promoting diversity, so it was great to include a range of talent – no matter how small the clip.  And to show all that off to kids and families around the world – bonus!”

Carbon Creative first worked with Sesame Workshop back in 2013, when they pitched the idea of 5 Kangaroos with Jess Mauboy and the Yipirinya kids from Alice Springs.

“It was a television first, in that in the show’s 40-plus-year history, they’d never used Australian content, let alone Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content,” Wayne explained.

“It paved the way for other Australian producers to create content for Sesame and enabled Carbon Creative to showcase more of our great diversity of people and wildlife.”

Wayne said his company typically produces the Sesame content in house, producing scripts based on briefs from the client, and after approval, uses local crews who are specialists in their fields.

He said he typically shoots in Queensland as the State provides amazing locations for television.

Wayne’s latest ‘A’ is for Animals segment appeared in the US as part of the 50th anniversary season and has more recently screened in Australia on the ABC.

More collaborative projects with Sesame are on the table including the development and production of an early childhood social and emotional wellbeing outreach program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“COVID has slowed down progress a little with this, but it’s only a delay.

“Sesame Workshop has enormous experience globally working in early childhood across tough topics such as families experiencing homelessness, racism, food insecurity, grief, and living in conflict zones. They’ve helped tackle HIV in South Africa, living in conflict in Syria, poverty in India and so on.

“To me it was a no brainer, partnering with them to do something for Indigenous littlies and their families’ social and emotional wellbeing.

“Importantly, the program will be co-developed by Sesame Workshop, Carbon Creative and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood specialists, together with the people in local communities, so we end up with a culturally-lead and celebrated program.”

Carbon Creative is a social change advertising agency who works largely in the health and education sector.

The company is currently working with the Australian Government Department of Health producing advertising campaigns for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have worked with the Department previously, but to be honest, like just about everyone, at the time we had no idea how big the brief was about to become once the pandemic was announced.

“It’s been a very busy time but we’re absolutely not complaining. We’re grateful to have the work, be working on such an important campaign, and in our own small way, helping stop the spread of the disease. To state the obvious, there is still lots to do.”

Wayne is a former CQUniversity Bachelor of Arts student who is now based in Brisbane where he heads up Carbon Creative.