Making exercise fun for kids

Local man builds studio for children’s character he created

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published May 4, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Michael Schmidt didn’t have any previous experience in building construction or television production, but that didn’t stop him from building his own film studio in Macomb Township to get kids up and moving.

Schmidt, a Macomb Township resident, is the man behind the “Buddy Bigfoot” production, which sets out to make exercise fun for kids.

“It’s not like it used to be when we used to play soccer or go fishing. Our parents had to drag us in from playing baseball; things have changed so much,” Schmidt said. “I’m trying to get kids up and moving again, and have fun while they’re doing it.”

Schmidt’s project began four years ago, after the birth of his second of four children. He noticed how much children gravitated toward television to watch characters like Barney and Elmo, and how they would follow their movements.

“I told my wife that I wish I could do something so I could work with my kids and get other kids moving at the same time,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt then spent the next six months collecting leftover lumber from construction sites throughout the area to use for a 1,200-square-foot film production studio, which would take the next two years to build.

In that time, he wound up teaching himself how to construct the building with proper roofing, ventilation and temperature controls to make it suitable for himself and the children who exercise with him.

“I have a house. I’m a do-it-yourselfer, and I learned as I go. I fumbled my way through it. A lot of things didn’t work, but I’d do it again. I’m really happy with what I have,” Schmidt said.

Essentially the only part of his production that he didn’t make himself was the costume he wears.

“I wanted that costume to look like it was professionally made. I didn’t want to make it myself, so I put everything I had into making that look professional,” Schmidt said.

With all of the pre-production work out of the way now, Schmidt has begun to film segments with his own four children and kids of his relatives and other friends.

Schmidt said he spends time teaching kids about movements in different activities like soccer, then asks the kids at home to follow his and his kids’ movements.

“We’ll talk about playing defense, then I’ll go through the movements, then ask the kids at home to follow,” Schmidt said. “The whole idea is they’re learning about exercise, and they’re getting up and following at home. Even though they’re watching television, they can still get up and move.”

Schmidt said he hopes to eventually get his shows put on local public access television and online. He also hopes to begin visiting schools with his costume to inspire students to exercise.

Schmidt has been filming his work with no prior experience in film production, but that has added to his enjoyment of creating the shows.

“I’m learning as I go. Every time I shoot a video or every time I make something, it’s getting better each time I go,” Schmidt said. “It’s such a sense of accomplishment, actually doing this. I have so much invested in it, and even if it takes me a while, I’m not going to stop now. I found my career — it’s just taken me longer than I expected.”

For more information on Schmidt’s project, visit www.buddybigfoot.com.

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