As a mother of six, Lauren Hartwin often felt guilty that she was so busy and overwhelmed she did not have time to read books to her kids each day.
So she improvised, making up stories that were silly, funny, serious, educational and life-experience related, with her children as the characters.
After discovering a lot of other parents were in the same predicament, she decided to create her own YouTube channel for children and families, focusing on entertainment, education, development, imagination and the joy of reading.
Professionally produced by 13th Street Films, The Big Blue Chair – Story Time launched on YouTube last month and she is looking to broaden the reach on other platforms.
“At present the production is fully self funded, a passion project that I am hoping to expand and market further afield,” the Brisbane-based actor, model, writer and presenter tells IF.
Her “day job” is running demolition firm Hartwin Industries with her husband Myron Hartwin; they are featured in WildBear Entertainment’s observational documentary series Demolition Down Under, which premiered last Sunday on 10 Bold.
“The Big Blue Chair evolved through a combined effort of encouragement from my husband and children to stop talking and start doing,” she says.
“Shooting took place in April 2019. It was a year-long wait as I let my anxiety get the better of me. Prior to filming in a professional setting, all the stories I told or read to my children were just us with me recording them at times so I didn’t have to keep repeating myself or those that I made up weren’t forgotten.”
After meeting 13th Street Films’ director Joel Fleming at one of his workshops, she spent a few months watching his productions before pitching her idea of the channel.
Fleming was keen, they locked in shoot dates and Sian Laycock designed the sets and created the artwork.
“From the first meeting, Joel and his team were supportive and excited to be creating something a little different that took a different view of reading to children through interactive online reading and engagement,” she says.
“The Big Blue Chair is about being oneself, feeling at ease, a place where education, development and enjoyment of books is the main focus, with stories from Australian and internationally-renowned children’s authors and illustrators.”
The next step will be The Big Blue Chair – Short & Sweet [raw & unedited], which will provide an inside view of her life as a mum – the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright nasty, beautiful, laughable and crying moments that mothers like her face every day.
Filming is due to start late this month. The premise: “You don’t have to project this perfect photo-shopped lifestyle, it is okay to make mistakes, not be everyone’s cup of tea, not have a list of friends as tall as you are. It is okay to just be you. “