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Meet Olivier Lelardoux, Director of Award-Winning Series Gigantosaurus

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Interviews
Meet Olivier Lelardoux, Director of Award-Winning Series Gigantosaurus

OlivierLelardoux.Headshot.jpg

Enjoy Zoe C.’s interview with Olivier Lelardoux, Head of Animation / Director at Cyber Group Animation. Lelardoux is the director of the award-winning series Gigantosaurus, Zorro the Chronicles, Zou, Mia, The Legends of Tatonka, Ozieboo Protect the Planet and more.

 

https://youtu.be/DEeM3u3qQBA

 

 

Cyber Group Studios is a Paris-based developer, producer and distributor of animated television series and movies for children in France and internationally. The company produces 3D and 2D animation products for television series and movies, web series, and news and documentaries. It also licenses its own and third-party characters.

 

Olivier Lelardoux has 18+ years of experience in the production of youth programs as director, designer and production designer. Since 2005, he has been at Cyber Group Studios, a company he co-founded, co-owns and co- manages as Head of the studio and Director of the company’s series. Olivier also oversees the external studios in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Kuala Lumpur and Tunis that work on Cyber Group Studios series and spearheads the company’s technology group. Series directed by Olivier have won multiple awards and nominations including:

 

* Awarded series number one on CCTV China

  • 2D3D Film Festival (Italy) 2020 – Gigantosaurus for Best Voice Acting Award
  • Pulcinella Awards 2019 – Best upper-preschool series, Gigantosaurus” Season 1
  • Common Sense Media Seal Honoree 2019 – Gigantosaurus
  • Cynopsis Kids Award 2014 – ZOU Winner new Preschool Series
  • Chicago Animation Festival 2012 – ZOU, 1st Prize, Animated Television Program
  • International Emmy Award 2013 nomination, ZOU
  • TVFI Prix Export 2013 Nomination, Gold Panda (China ) 2013 – Tatonka
  • AET Canada 2010 – Manon – Best Canadian TV Animation Series
  • TVFI Prix Export 2008
  • Shanghai TV Festival – Magnolia Award

 

Previously, Lelardoux worked at Esteban Production (2002 to 2005) as director of TV ads, music videos, motion graphics, TV shows and VFX supervisor. Esteban production is specialized in live action shows for kids. He also worked at BillyWeb (2000 to 2002) as web designer. Olivier was also in charge of creating kids CGI characters for web sites. Olivier’s production expertise spans across production main steps (design, projects development, directing, producing, studio management, budgets and planning). Olivier received a Master degree from the Movie and Animation school ESRA Paris.

Jared Sandrew – Stereo-Visual Effects Supervisor on the last 7 Disney Feature Films

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Interviews
Jared Sandrew – Stereo-Visual Effects Supervisor on the last 7 Disney Feature Films

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Sandrew, Stereoscopic Supervisor for The Walt Disney Studios. Jared was the Stereo/Visual Effects Supervisor on Disney’s last seven feature films including Aladdin, Dumbo, Mulan, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Nutcracker & the Four Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and The Finest Hours. He designed and supervised all the 3D conversion on the films.

 

Jared also supervised the creative conversion of The Walk and  Man of Steel while working at Legend3D with his dad, Barry Sandrew who we interviewed recently. Jared holds 13 patents ranging from 3D Model Multi-Review System to Mothod for creating 3D virtual reality from 2D images. He truly is a super star in visual effects and our hosts, Tiana S. and Heather S. walked away from this interview filled with new knowledge about how digital imaging is done. A big thank you to Jared for talking with us in terms that kids and non-techies can understand.

https://youtu.be/P0dCZ23ktFk

KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Heather S. and Tiana S., ages 13 and 9

 

 

 

 

John Lewis: Good Trouble – A Must See! Weaving stories about this Remarkable Man Who Changed History for Us All!

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Reviews
John Lewis: Good Trouble – A Must See! Weaving stories about this Remarkable Man Who Changed History for Us All!

Using interviews and rare archival footage, John Lewis: Good Trouble chronicles Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter’s primarily cinéma verité film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ruby A. comments, “The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delivers an extremely powerful message. It shows the heroism and courageousness of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, as well as many other African American people in this country.” KIDS FIRST! National Board Member Terry S. adds, “This inspirational documentary is a must see.  John Lewis: Good Trouble weaves an important story about an exceptional man, shows us our history from the ‘60s to today, and demonstrates the part John Lewis played, and continues to play, as the fight for racial justice and equality is at a pivotal moment in time with the Black Lives Matter movement.” See their full reviews below.

John Lewis: Good Trouble

By Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/46oGpWHK5K4

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The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delivers an extremely powerful message. It shows the heroism and courageousness of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, as well as many other African American people in this country. Subjects such as civil rights and equality for all races should be better discussed in this nation and, truly, always should have been, and now is the time to put these long-existing issues with racism to rest. John Lewis: Good Trouble encapsulated this moving lesson by telling the Congressman’s story and what motivated him to take action.

John Lewis: Good Trouble is about the experiences he had and changes that occurred in his life. It discusses the racial segregation that existed for a very long time and how so many people spoke out against it. The film demonstrates how people aimed — and still are aiming  — to resolve racial issues in America. Civil rights are an essential part of every government, and this documentary shows these racial inequalities through the life and actions of John Lewis. It communicates these important actions across the timeline of his life, interspersed with many interviews with people that know the Congressman—this gives the perspective of many individuals and shows how he has impacted them.

My favorite part of John Lewis: Good Trouble also happens to be the camerawork. Despite the fact that there is constant movement, the shots remain smooth and crisp in quality. Not all documentaries have the greatest camera operation, so it is nice to see the effort made to bring quality to the viewer’s eyes. It makes watching the film more enjoyable for anyone.

The message of this documentary is that speaking up about issues yet to be solved can make others feel driven to help make a change. John Lewis: Good Trouble is definitely successful in portraying this message. Positive social behavior is promoted, and people treat each other appropriately. There isn’t any bad language, either. Police brutality is discussed, and some footage of it shown, but nothing risky that children may imitate.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It will be released on July 3, 2020.

John Lewis: Good Trouble
By Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

https://youtu.be/z_oEkOdIXdo

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There is an old African proverb: “When you pray, you move your feet.”  The proverb resonates powerfully in this quote from John Lewis’ memoir, Walking in the Wind: “As a nation if we care for the beloved community, we must move our feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill.  In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house, the American house, the American family.”

John Lewis is a powerful writer. I read  Walking in the Wind several years ago, and it had a  powerful impact on me.  John Lewis: Good Trouble, the documentary, makes that same powerful impact: it brings his story to life!  As in his memoir, the film reveals the man behind the legend.

I was moved to tears by the footage from the 1960s.  I was beginning my teenage years back in 1963. Television was still a young medium, and it showed us all that was going on in the world daily.  I was learning about the world and its ways in the ‘60s—the injustices, the fight for dignity, freedom, equality and decency.  These were my middle school years, my high school years, formative years brought back to life as I watched this film.

History repeats itself until we learn.  John Lewis: Good Trouble follows John Lewis throughout his young life in Alabama, working on his parent’s farm, feeding chickens, picking cotton.  Mr. Lewis’ narration of waking up early, hiding under the porch to wait for the school bus, running onto the bus to get to school to his wonderful teachers where he says he read everything, is a powerful visual image.  I love what one of his sisters says about John wearing a tie and carrying the Bible to school every day.  John was a serious student.  He wanted more in his life.  Clearly, he wanted to make a difference in our country for racial justice for African American people. His tireless work and dedication started as a college student. From SNCC leader to Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis fought the good fight for voter’s rights, for civil rights, for the right to eat at the same restaurant as white people, for integration, not segregation.  His marches, his belief in nonviolence and commitment to the cause have continued for 65 years.

One story that Henry Gates Jr. tells about John Lewis’ great-great grandfather getting his voting card back in the 1800s has a powerful twist. So many stories, so much history where he worked so hard from the time of Dr. Martin Luther King to President Barack Obama to now!

This inspirational documentary is a must see.  John Lewis: Good Trouble weaves an important story about an exceptional man, shows us our history from the ‘60s to today, and demonstrates the part John Lewis played, and continues to play, as the fight for racial justice and equality is at a pivotal moment in time with the Black Lives Matter movement.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it for 9 to 18 year olds to learn about an effective leader and his plight – and to understand even further the times we are currently living through. I also recommend it to adults, to remember all that has transpired through the years, to reflect and act on how we can all move forward once and for all to make the change that is way long overdue.  It will be released July 3, 2020 on Apple TV.

 

Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz – What Makes Her Tick and How Did She Become Such A Powerhouse in Animation?

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Interviews
Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz – What Makes Her Tick and How Did She Become Such A Powerhouse in Animation?

We recently had privilege of talking with Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz who has 20 years experience as a producer of animation, TV shows, film, music videos and live events.  Ms. Rosenzweig Topaz is the founder and executive producer at Neko Productions, an animation studio based in Burbank, CA, and the founder and owner of FBF Animation, an online animation school that trains animators and concept artists all over the world. As executive producer of Neko, Lirit has worked on a large variety of projects for big brands such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Marvel Avengers, Harry Potter, Barbie and produced the animation in the feature film Ask Dr Ruth, which premiered at Sundance and Tribeca 2019.  The film has been distributed in theaters by Magnolia pictures and is currently streaming on Hulu. Come join us to discover what makes Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz tick and how she bacame such a powerhouse in the world of animation.

 

https://youtu.be/ShCcFBbJQGs

Interviewed by Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLI6M_JXrd8piOriH8lh1U-cwX9wolzr0F

KIDS FIRST! Chats with Angela C. Santomero, Chief Creative Officer, 9 Story Media Group

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Interviews
KIDS FIRST! Chats with Angela C. Santomero, Chief Creative Officer, 9 Story Media Group

Join us as we interview a woman who has been changing the way kids watch TV for over 20 years. Angela C. Santomero is the Emmy Award-winning creator and Chief Creative Officer at 9 Story Media Group. She is the Angela C. Creator & Executive Producer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Blue’s Clues, Wishenpoof, Creative Galaxy & Super Why and has created award-winning kids and family content for PBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Studios and more!

https://youtu.be/DG5jlZLrqYM


With a Masters in Child Developmental Psychology from Columbia University-Teacher’s College, Angela’s vision for integrating educational curriculum into entertaining content for kids led her to co-create, executive produce and head write Nick Jr. ‘s landmark series, Blue’s Clues. Malcolm Gladwell referred to Blue’s Clues as “One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made,” in The Tipping Point.

Angela is the recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award for Outstanding Childrenʹs Programming. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Series at the 2019 Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Additionally, Ms. Santomero’s book PRESCHOOL CLUES: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World (Touchstone) was released April 2018. Her second book RADICAL KINDNESS: The Life Changing Power of Giving and Receiving was released in 2019.

Interview by KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan R., age 17

Social Media:

Twitter – @AngelasClues

Instagram – @AngelasClues

Website: www.angelasclues.com

Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales * Excellent Animation, Fun Characters, Really Good Lessons

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Interviews
Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales * Excellent Animation, Fun Characters, Really Good Lessons

Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu are four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period. Life is always an adventure: new volcanoes are popping up all the time, long-necked brachiosauruses and enormous triceratopses roam free, meteor showers light up the night sky and the big bad Gigantosaurus reigns over it all! On this exciting DVD, join Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu as they explore the world of Cretacia. Embark on a mission to help find a lost egg s missing parents. Join the four friends as they venture out on a sleepover at the lake and camp among the herds in the desert. The adventures don t end there! Race with Mazu to see a once-in-a-lifetime comet and join Bill as he becomes invisible during a game of hide and seek. Enjoy these adventures and more with our Dino pals! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like the Gigantosaurus Dino Tales DVD because it is very entertaining and funny.  This show amuses younger children as well as older children like me.” Bailey Rae F., adds, “What stands out in these animated episodes are the minute details of each dinosaur and the positive relationship between the four characters. The dinosaurs are very distinguished so that the viewer can determine their various types. The lead character Rocky pretends to be very brave, but his friend assures him that it’s okay to have fears. The character Bill shows his loyalty as a friend. Mazu and Tiny are committed to their friendship. It’s also fun that the dinosaurs have human-like qualities, making them anthropomorphic.” Arjun N. wraps it up with, “The animation is easily the most impressive feature here. The character models appear swiftly, and the environments fully capture the Cretaceous aesthetic. The episodic plots follow similar patterns, and the characters lack distinct personalities. The antagonists are all juvenile bullies. Granted this show is made for preschoolers, so this will not be as obvious to them as it is to an older viewer such as me. “The Island” is the one episode that really stands out for me, featuring a touching plot about friendship as Bill helps Rocky face his fear of swimming.” See their full reviews below.

 

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Gigantosaurus Dino Tales
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

https://youtu.be/vzRXFajEy_Y

I like the Gigantosaurus Dino Tales DVD because it is very entertaining and funny.  This show amuses younger children as well as older children like myself.

This DVD is a compilation of eight funny episodes with each episode a duration of 11 minutes approximately.  The episodes do not follow a sequence.  Each one has its individual story line. This DVD is about four “dino” friends, named Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu, who explore the world of Cretacia, where they live and make missions along the way.  This show is very entertaining for young audience, keeping their attention their entire time.

The graphics are very bright and colorful.  I especially like the jungle background.  The voice-over talents suit each character.  The music is appealing, especially the theme song.  The episodes are short and interesting.  My favorite episode is “Mazu’s Comet,” which is about Mazu wanting to see a comet with his name, because he is actually named after the comet.  This is a special day for him because the comet only passes by every 100 hundred years.  He makes a telescope, but the lens of the telescope breaks, so he scavenges to find a new lens in the desert.  He only has a limited time to get back to the mountain to watch the comet.  Finally, he finds the lens he needs but he gets distracted by another dinosaur in need of assistance and forgets all about the lens that he needs to see this special comet.  He travels back without the lens and keeps helping more fellow dinosaurs along the way.  When he finally arrives at the mountain he realizes that he forgot his lens. All the dinosaurs that Mazu helped along the way help him get his lens back and Mazu watches the comet successfully. My favorite character is Rocky because he is very adventurous dinosaur.

The moral of this DVD is that “teamwork makes the dream work,” while having fun together.  There is nothing like having a strong bond with our closest best friends to experience adventures together while exploring our surroundings or hometown.

I give Gigantosaurus Dino Tales DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18, plus adults can watch this DVD with their children as well.  This DVD is available now so look for it!

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Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales

By Bailey Rae Fenderson, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9

https://youtu.be/NPxd3brMb7s

 

What I like about DVD is seeing all the characters of different types that all get along as great friends. I like how they work together as a team to solve problems. I also love the animation.

This DVD is a collection of episodes from the TV show by the same name. The story line is four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period where there is a new adventure every day from volcanoes popping up, to meteor showers lighting up the night sky to all the various dinosaurs that you might run into at any time. The young dinosaurs, Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu invite the audience to join them in their adventures.

What stands out in these animated episodes are the minute details of each dinosaur and the positive relationship between the four characters. The dinosaurs are very distinguished so that the viewer can determine their various types. The lead character Rocky pretends to be very brave, but his friend assures him that it’s okay to have fears. The character Bill shows his loyalty as a friend. Mazu and Tiny are committed to their friendship. It’s also fun that the dinosaurs have human-like qualities, making them anthropomorphicThe message of this DVD is to demonstrate friendship, acceptance and compassion. The episodes focus on taking care of one another and being thoughtful. I learned to continue to value my friends and enjoy fun times together. I also learned how to pronounce some of the difficult names of dinosaurs.

I give Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages w to 5. It is available now on DVD or digital, so look for it.

 

Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales
By Arjun Nair, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18

 

https://youtu.be/CkWJNMODGfU

 

 

Gigantosaurus: Dino Tales is an English dubbed collection of episodes from the titular French CGI-animated preschool series. Kids learning through early childhood education will find plenty of great messages and funny characters. Most of the episodes follow a repetitive structure, with a few standouts.

This anthology follows the adventures of Rocky (Dylan Schombling), Bill (Nicholas Holmes), Tinu (Aine Sunderland), and Mazu (Nahanni Mitchell) who are four young dinosaurs growing up in the Cretaceous period. Surrounding these tales is the overarching mysterious Gigantosaurus who helps them on a few adventures.

The four leads share great banter allowing for believable friendships. Keep in mind; they are all child actors who are slowly coming into their own. Dylan Schombling, as Rocky, is easily my favorite of the bunch overcompensating his masculinity towards his inner fears. His dynamic with Bill, voiced by Nicholas Holmes, is strongest with a touching episode addressing how he helps his friend face his fears. The dynamic between Tinu, Mazu and other pair-ups are not as strong, although Aine Sunderland and Nahanni Mitchell give charismatic performances.The animation is easily the most impressive feature here. The character models appear swiftly, and the environments fully capture the Cretaceous aesthetic. The episodic plots follow similar patterns, and the characters lack distinct personalities. The antagonists are all juvenile bullies. Granted this show is made for preschoolers, so this will not be as obvious to them as it is to an older viewer such as me.“The Island” is the one episode that really stands out for me, featuring a touching plot about friendship as Bill helps Rocky face his fear of swimming.

The message of this film is to always value friendships. All four of the dinosaurs have a great dynamic that revolves around trust and teamwork. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 7. This DVD is available now on DVD and digital so check it out.

 

 

 

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever * Beautifully Illustrated & Written, Filled With Kid-Appropriate Adventures

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Reviews
Llama Llama Best Summer Ever * Beautifully Illustrated & Written, Filled With Kid-Appropriate Adventures

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their safe, friendly hometown and make childhood memories. On this DVD, join Llama Llama as he camps, boats, floats and swims his way through his BEST summer ever! Adventure and learning awaits with Llama Llama and pals! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! DVD because it is very entertaining. It is a great tool to entertain young children or kids my age, especially during this pandemic. Each episode is very well illustrated and the script is well written.” Cadence G. adds, “I like Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! because all the episodes are different and have their own little adventure, even though all eight episodes have to do with summer activities.” Katherine S. wraps it up with, “Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content. The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.” See their full reviews below

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

I like Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! DVD because it is very entertaining. It is a great tool to entertain young children or kids my age, especially during this pandemic. Each episode is very well illustrated and the script is well written.

This DVD is based off the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. One of Dewdney’s of the first books in the series is Llama Llama Red Pajama. Her Llama Llama books have been adapted into an animated television series for Netflix and this DVD is a compilation of episodes about summer. Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep, Gilroy Goat explore their hometown and have fun at the same time making childhood memories. This is truly the best summer ever for Llama Llama and his friends! Every episode is a new story with a new story line. This DVD includes eight episodes with a duration of approximately 11 minutes each for a total of 90 minutes of fun and adventure.

The animation is neat with bright colors, very detailed and colorful landscaping and excellent voice-overs that match each character. My favorite episode is “Last Day of Summer” which is about Llama Llama going kiting with his mom and friends at the beach, but it starts raining so his mom suggests doing indoor activities. His mom thinks of a fun way to go kiting indoors. They place a sand-looking mat on the floor; turn on a fan and Luna stands on the background to move fake waves made by cardboard. This episode is my favorite because it gives you a very good idea of how to have fun while staying at home during this pandemic.

The moral of this show is to never give up because Llama Llama does not stop trying to sell lemonade and keeps trying till he eventually gets customers. This shows how to keep trying even when things don’t work out the way you want them to. It teaches children to be persistent because there is no worse battle than the one you don’t fight for. This show also teaches children to be creative and to be resourceful like when they are kiting inside the house.

I’d give Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it ages 5 to 18, plus adults can watch and enjoy this DVD with their children! This DVD is available now so go and look for it! It’s perfect for summer and pandemics.

Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever!
By Cadence Graber, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

I like Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! because all the episodes are different and have their own little adventure, even though all eight episodes have to do with summer activities. At times, certain parts get a bit cheesy, but the characters are so cute that I think little kids will like this DVD.

This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friends Euclid the Sheep, Gilroy Goat, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe having different adventures, like the one when Llama Llama wants to help Euclid buy a new tire for his bike because it breaks, so the crew helps him raise money by starting a lemonade stand. Another adventure is when Llama Llama and Nelly Gnu have a babysitter and have so much fun together. Although, Llama Llama has to step in a few times to help out the babysitter when certain things go wrong. You’ll have to watch the episode called “Llama Llama and the Babysitter” to find out what happens and how Llama Llama comes to the rescue. It is really cool to see all of the characters have fun together and solve problems when they need to. I also think it’s neat that the characters are so funny and have their own little personalities. My favorite part is when all the friends have an indoor summer day because it is raining. They take their game of sand volleyball inside, which is something I’d like to do. I’m not the best at playing volleyball (okay, I’m horrible), but it’s still a fun game to play with friends.
The animation is really good because you can see everything that is going on at all times; it’s really life-like. The voices of the characters fit them perfectly. I like how all the characters are so different from one another. For example, Llama Llama (Shayle Simons) is usually confident and has a strong voice, while Euclid (Brendon Sunderland), who is kind of shy and nerdy, has a weaker voice. It is exciting to see the characters play together outside in the summer. I look forward to being able to do more summer activities as it gets warmer in Minnesota, where I’m from.

The message of the DVD is you should take advantage of beautiful sunny days, but that you can still have fun even if it’s not sunny or if things don’t always work out the way you planned. Each episode has its own little message, so you’ll have to check out this DVD to learn more.
I give Llama Llama: BEST Summer Ever! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 10. This DVD is available now, so go look for it.

Llama Llama: Best Summer Ever
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content. The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.
This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friend having the time of their lives on their summer vacation. Episodes include Let’s Go Camping, Beach Day, Boat Float and Last Day of Summer. Wherever Llama Llama goes, there will always be fun.
The Llama Llama animated series is so cool, because they are based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney. There are several lovable characters including Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe. This DVD is approximately 90 minutes long with eight episodes. My favorite episode is Last Day of Summer, because it shows that even if the weather is bad you can still have fun indoors during the summer.

There are a lot of positive messages in this DVD including keeping a positive attitude when your plans change unexpectedly and, if you go with the flow and have a positive attitude, the outcome can still be fun. We also learn that a little bit of practice can make you feel more confident and that if you feel as if you are not getting enough attention from your parents, just know that they still love you. This DVD has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do. However, there are scenes showing jealously.
I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend this DVD for your kids.

Steve Michelson – From One Pass to Sustainable Tomorrows, Innovator Supreme!

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Interviews
Steve Michelson – From One Pass to Sustainable Tomorrows, Innovator Supreme!

We have the pleasure today to visit with Steve Michelson about “Making Media That Matters.” Steve Michelson is the Executive Producer for The Fund for Sustainable Tomorrows, a 501©3 non-profit specializing in supporting engagement campaigns around cause-related documentaries involving health, social justice, sustainability and the environment.

Two current projects that he is leading are the film Phil’s Camino and the mission to change the standard of care around cancer treatment.  The Fund is also managing the engagement around the release of the film 16Bars about the reentry of returning citizens to society from our prison system. Steve’s on line course, in association with Ringling College in Sarasota Florida, for the next generation of documentarians will launch this year as Making Media That Matters.

Michelson has functioned as Executive Producer on many award-winning films including: In Our Own Hands How Patients are Reinventing MedicineThe Third HarmonyScarred Lands and Wounded LivesNature’s Orchestra, Walking in Two Worlds, River of RenewalPower PathsBurning the FutureCrude ImpactOil on Ice and more.

From 2006-2019 Michelson was the Executive Producer at the Video Project, specializing in educational and institutional distribution of documentary films. His production studio operates out of his Ranch in Half Moon Bay, CA. called Lobitos Creek Ranch. It has been redesigned recently to accommodate retreats for organizations and groups that come to strategize on some of the challenging problems society faces.

Michelson was co-founder and president of One Pass, San Francisco’s largest production and post-production studio from 1975-85, before starting his own company in 1986. He is a recipient of the Gilbert Award for outstanding contribution to Northern California’s film community. He has served four terms as a Governor with the National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS). Steve is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he attended The Annenberg School of Communications and the Wharton School of Business.

For more of my interviews exploring leaders in the entertainment business, make sure to check out my interviews with Glenn Ross, CEO Universal 1440 Entertainment; Scott Ross, VFX Specialist; Glenn Entis, former CEO Dreamworks Interactive; Maureen Fan, CEO Baobab Studios; Gary Gutierez, SFX Specialist; Cynthia Hsiung, Award-Winning Director/producer; and Steve Michelson, Award-winning Documentarian. You can find them all here on my playlist on the KIDS FIRST!  YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wr8_OxGxjo&list=PLI6M_JXrd8pguIVQLc3ESsLWmI_-LP1lw

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

The Half Of It * Beautiful Story About Love, Friendship And Longing

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Movie Reviews
The Half Of It * Beautiful Story About Love, Friendship And Longing

When smart but cash-strapped teen Ellie Chu agrees to write a love letter for a jock, she doesn’t expect to become his friend – or fall for his crush. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “The Half of It is certainly a beautiful story about love, friendship and longing. It is a very relatable story about the process of discovering love and what comes with it. The acting is splendid and writer/director Alice Wu is very assertive in both capacities.”  Ruby A. adds, “The Half Of It is a film that virtually anyone can enjoy. It’s hilarious, unique, and has many intersecting relationships that keep you guessing what will happen in the future. The small-town setting helps the story feel more relatable. The personalities of the characters blend well and the progression of the plot makes sense.” Calista B. Wraps it up with, “The Half of It is interesting, however I feel like it could have been much better. I like it, yet I think there is a lot of missed potential.” See their full reviews below.

The Half of It

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

https://youtu.be/3t2K1Roh3lI

The Half of It is certainly a beautiful story about love, friendship and longing. It is a very relatable story about the process of discovering love and what comes with it. The acting is splendid and writer/director Alice Wu is very assertive in both capacities.

The story follows Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), a shy and introverted, straight “A” student, in her senior year, helping a friend, Paul, to capture the attention of the girl of his dreams, Aster. Initially, Ellie writes just one letter, but the story evolves into an exchange of text messages before their first date. During the journey, the characters discover the truth of the stress and challenges of courtship.

https://youtu.be/4KefecjO30Q

The film starts with a beautiful, artsy animation and excellent voice over work, guiding us into the mysteries of love at a very young age. The Half of It is a very well narrated story, keeping you intrigued, making you wanting to know more about the characters and how they will end up. The editing and music are very interconnected and they work in perfect harmony, turning into amazing storytelling.

https://youtu.be/zgWBR20yG8I

I enjoyed the acting and the honesty of Leah Lewis’ portrayal of a very timid, but determined girl. I love Paul naiveté and his struggle to communicate and show his emotions and how his innocence contrasts with Ellie’s intelligence. Despite their differences they become friends, which is one of my favorite aspects of the film. I also love Collin Chou who plays Ellie’s dad. He barely speaks English but he’s really funny. He portrays a very loving and kind man and wants what’s best for his daughter. Ellie’s Dad loves classic films and, throughout the movie, there are several references to art in different disciplines like painting and poetry. This makes the film feel very grounded. “The Best Part,” as Ellie’s Dad refers when interrupted when watching his cinema classics, is when Ellie and Aster are in a secret lake and just talking. The scene itself is beautiful and the acting feels so natural. I love how this scene is shot and found it really relaxing.

The Half of It is not the typical high school movie, because in almost every high school movie there is a popular girl, a shy nerdy girl with lots of clichés and no substance. But in this movie the characters are real, current and deep.

The message of this film is “be the best version of you.” Ellie used to be an artist and one of the things she learns is that “you can have a good painting, but to make it a great one you need to make a bold stroke.” I think what she means by “bold stroke” is the best version that you can possibly be of yourself. Also we hear that “love is the journey we pursue with determination.”

This film is wonderful! I could watch it a million times and still be entertained. I give The Half of It 5 out of 5 stars and recommended it for ages 12 to 18. The Half of It opens on Netflix May 1, 2020.

The Half Of It

By Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

https://youtu.be/dN9Vt1S7M6k

The Half Of It is a film that virtually anyone can enjoy. It’s hilarious, unique, and has many intersecting relationships that keep you guessing what will happen in the future. The small-town setting helps the story feel more relatable. The personalities of the characters blend well and the progression of the plot makes sense.

Netflix’s The Half Of It takes place in a small town by the name of Squahamish, following a girl named Ellie Chu. Ellie is in high school and has a way with words. Although she is talented, she is made fun of frequently. One day, Ellie is riding her bike and her classmate, Paul Munsky, asks her to write his crush, Aster, a love letter. Ellie is skeptical and annoyed, but she agrees to help him out. Little does she know that she will become his friend and fall for his crush at the same time.

Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) and Aster Flores (Alexxis Lemire) make a great cast of main characters. Paul and Ellie (despite their differences) make a great team when trying to impress Aster. I love so many parts of this movie, however I have to choose a favorite! The acting really is something else. The cast is really amazing and, when you watch it, you feel an emotional connection to them. There is one specific person from the cast who does an exceptional job – Leah Lewis. She embodies the role of a reserved and skeptical-of-everything teenager very well.

The lesson from this film is that acting like your true self is for more valuable than the person you may want others to perceive you as. This way, others can love you for just being you. The movie is most definitely successful in portraying this. It is a very positive and uplifting message. This movie promotes the positive social behaviors of friendship and helping other people. However, there is quite a bit of bullying towards the main protagonist, Ellie, that occurs. There is a slight bit of swearing, but nothing too severe, and some alcohol use is shown.

I give The Half Of It 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can find The Half Of It on Netflix May 1, 2020.

The Half of It

By Calista Bess, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

https://youtu.be/6HDL4zRYVJM

 

The Half of It is interesting, however I feel like it could have been much better. I like it, yet I think there is a lot of missed potential.

The movie follows Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) who makes money by charging other students for essay help. One day, a jock named Paul (Daniel Diemer) asks her for help writing a love letter to his crush Aster (Alexxis Lemire). However, as Ellie continues to help Paul win her over, she ends up also falling for Aster.

A big aspect of this film is the LGBT twist. As someone who cares a lot about representation, this intrigued me. However, I have mixed feelings about the way this movie goes about its representation. I can’t elaborate much as that would lead to spoilers, but let’s just say the actual LGBT romance is a little lackluster and mostly overshadowed by the straight romance. This isn’t really an issue for most of the film, however this heavily affected my opinion on the ending. I usually try not to compare pieces of media, however I want to compare this film to Love, Simon. An issue I’ve noticed when it comes to LGBT representation is the prevalence of tragedies and dramatic stories. Either that, or stories where the LGBT character doesn’t have a happy ending. This is why Love, Simon was such a hit with the LGBT audience, because it is a wholesome, romantic comedy that embraces its gay representation. And considering The Half of It is also pushing the gay aspect in marketing, it could have been a lot better. The Half of It is far from the worst when it comes to unsatisfying representation, but it definitely has room for improvement

However, the representation is not the only aspect of the film. As this is a comedy, how is the humor in this movie? Honestly, I really like a lot of the comedy in this film. I like the way Ellie and Paul play off each other and there’s many well executed visual gags and recurring bits. I also really like the friendship between Ellie and Paul. Despite the fact that they’re technically romantic rivals, you really buy their friendship as they have a great chemistry and you want them both to be happy in the end.

I give this film 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. It comes out on May 1, 2020. Look for it.

Entertainment Super Star Tom Kalinske, former CEO of Sega US and Leapfrog Talks with KIDS FIRST!

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Interviews
Entertainment Super Star Tom Kalinske, former CEO of Sega US and Leapfrog Talks with KIDS FIRST!

Recently Rohan F. had the opportunity to visit with Thomas “Tom” Kalinske, an American businessman, best known as having worked for Mattel 1972-87, reviving the Barbie & Hot Wheels Brands, launching Masters of the Universe, then being promoted to CEO of Mattel from 1985 to 1987. Next he was CEO of Matchbox, and then recruited to become president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. from 1990 to 1996. Next, he became CEO and COB of Leapfrog (1997-2006).

https://youtu.be/5q2EbLaSA20

Tom’s aggressive marketing decisions during his time at Sega, such as price drops, anti-Nintendo attack ads, and the famous “Sega Scream” TV campaign, are often cited as key elements in the success of the Genesis video game console. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Global Education Learning, a company dedicated to children’s education in China.

For his work at Mattel, Universal Matchbox, Sega, and Leapfrog, Kalinske was a 1997 inductee into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. He has received the NYC Boy Scout’s Good Scout Award, the Starlight Foundation Man of Year Award, the University of Wisconsin Business Partners “Distinguished Fellow” Award, and the Video Software Dealers Man of Year Award.

Learn what Tom’s experience means to you and why he is a perfect role model for kids worldwide.

Key words: Tom Kalinske, Mattel, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, Matchbox, Sega of America, Leapfrog, Nintendo, Sega Scream, Genesis, Global Education Learning, China, education

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