Filmmaker Jay Childs Puts TEDxPortsmouth in Focus

Jay Childs of JBC Communications

Jay Childs of JBC Communications

Telling the story of a storytelling event at a venue with a rich history of storytelling — that’s the challenge facing videographer/filmmaker Jay Childs as he prepares to shoot TEDxPortsmouth at The Music Hall this Friday, Sept. 13.

Childs, longtime principal at Portsmouth-based JBC Communications, plans to use four cameras and a team of six or seven to capture the action. “The priority,” for an event like TEDx, he says, “is to be as unobtrusive as we possibly can — to create as small a production footprint as we can.” After all, he says, “the live speakers — they’re the show.”

The daylong TEDx gathering — Portsmouth’s seventh annual and one of the largest among the 3,600 independently organized TEDx events staged around the globe each year — features a diverse lineup of compelling speakers sharing personal and professional stories, as well as artistic performances, catered lunch and refreshments, several surprises and countless community connections.

A year in the making, the event is sold out — thanks to the support of generous sponsors and the efforts of the TEDxPortsmouth volunteer team. If you didn’t get a ticket, you can tune in and watch the live stream at starting at 9am Eastern Standard Time.

As an Emmy-honored documentarian, TEDx is right in Childs’ wheelhouse. He describes himself as “sort of a TEDx junkie” — the kind of person who will become intrigued by a particular subject, then search to see if there are any TED Talks on the topic.

In fact, the TED Talks motto of “Ideas Worth Spreading” is even echoed in a descriptive passage on Childs’ professional website ( that references “over 25 years of telling stories that inspire action.”

Of course, storytelling has been at the heart of the Music Hall experience for nearly a century and a half. Opened in 1878 as a Vaudeville theater, the majestic space has hosted decades of stage and screen performances.

One such high point: the world premiere of Childs’ acclaimed documentary “Food Fight,” which told the story of family-owned Market Basket grocery chain and the workers who went on strike to save the soul of their company. The film received the red carpet treatment outside The Music Hall for its world premiere at the 2016 New Hampshire Film Festival and Childs was honored as the festival’s “NH Filmmaker of the Year.”

While each TEDx talk is experienced live, in the moment by a full house at The Music Hall, the task of recording these talks for posterity is a critical part of the production since they are watched again and again online.

For example, last year’s talk by stylist Stasia Savasuk (“Change Your Pants, Change Your Life!”) has racked up over 435,000 views on YouTube. As TEDxPortsmouth 2019 draws near, treat yourself to a TEDxPortsmouth 2018 flashback by watching a few of the fascinating talks from last year’s speakers.