Jury Coordination and Notes

Who is most important in making a film? by Gerry O.

March 7th, 2016

Professional films have a huge number of people working together to make the production come to life. Usually, the number people involved in a feature story production is around 500, but some films stick out. For example, Iron Man 3 listed credits for over 3,000 people - the size of a small town – who contributed in making this two-hour film. Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Who is the center of that large crowd? Who makes it all happen?”

There is a Director of Photography who sets up the camera shots. The director and assistant director envision the whole thing and assign each team their tasks. The producer takes care of a lot of the business side of the film. Actors make the film’s characters come to life. Editors assemble the whole thing and enhance the beauty aspects. Hair and makeup artists do the same to people. Writers give the actors the blueprint for what is expected from those characters, from dialogue to stage direction. Of course, there are many more people involved who help organize everything, build sets, place props on the sets and bring lunch to everyone!Gerry.O.jpg

So, WHO would you think is the most important key person in all of this organized chaos? Most would say director or actors, but really, a film isn’t made because of actors or directors, it is made to tell a story. All these stories are made for people to enjoy and learn from. Yes, movie lovers, DVD collectors and film historians are really the most important.  They are the reason for the film’s creation and, at the end of the day, are the reason films are still so huge today. Without an audience, none of these films would be made.

DC vs. Marvel: Which is the Best Comic Empire? By Clayton Pickard

February 29th, 2016

marvel_vs_dc.pngIn my opinion, DC clearly wins the DC vs. Marvel debate. DC has more relate-able, plausible, believable superheroes. It also has more cache. It is truly the darling of hip, nerdy, collector types. DC is also the underdog of the two companies, which makes me like it even more. They make less money than Marvel, put out fewer films and their properties, except for Batman and Superman, are less ubiquitous. However, DC is less PC! Marvel is the more “equal opportunity” comic empire. They use more women and people of color as character.

DC was founded in 1934 by Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson and is now a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc. DC includes the superheroes Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman and much more. DC focuses a lot on TV where they now make a substantial portion of their money. They have four amazing TV shows out right know: Green Arrow, The Flash, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Each of these series includes a substantial back-story of the characters and how they got their powers. I am currently watching two of the four shows, Arrow and Flash. I am addicted to both of these shows and can’t wait for each new episode. I get so deep into these shows that I feel as if I am one of the characters. Based on my friends’ opinions, Jessica Jones and Daredevil are also amazing.

Marvel was founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman. It was taken over by Stan Lee in 1961. He is now 93 years old and marginally involved in the company. (He does appear in a cameo in each film, which you have to look carefully to find). Disney bought Marvel in 2009 and hasClayton.jpg been mining the properties on the big screen ever since. Marvel properties include The Avengers (Iron man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow), Spiderman, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy and The X-men. 

Now that DC and Marvel are both owned by huge media conglomerates, lots of effort has been put into bringing their characters to the big screen. In 2016, Marvel has Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and X-men Apocalypse coming out. In late 2015, they released Avengers Age of Ultron.  DC is releasing Batman vs. Superman and The Suicide Squad this year. They released DC Legends of Tomorrow late last year.  I just saw Deadpool last week and it was amazing! It was action-packed and very humorous.  And, I am really stoked to see Captain America: Civil War and The Suicide Squad this summer.

Although I think DC is the better comic empire, you can tell I am still a big Marvel fan. I think we are really lucky that we have two major comic companies bringing us terrific, filmed entertainment. In both the movies and TV, it seems as if there is a comic culture renaissance happening right now.

Critics: Negative or Positive? By Keefer C.Blakeslee

February 23rd, 2016

filmcritics.jpgMost people our now talking about their  Oscar predictions, diversity issues and so on. I want to take this opportunity to talk about the purpose of criticism.  One of our newer KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan and I recently reviewed Splash Entertainment’s first feature, animated film Norm of the North. Both of us gave the movie a fair review. Sadly, some people didn’t favor our reviews because we showed positive vibes about the film. I want to address this because, I need closure on this and it’s an interesting subject about film criticism.  


Oddly enough, there was a negative response to Norm of the North that was gigantic. I have given negative reviews for movies in the past for Seventh Son and the infamous Fantastic Four. Why did I give those films bad reviews and give Norm of the North a cleaner slate? Norm of the North was produced is by an independent company and distributed by Lions Gate. The other two films were made by big studios - Fox and Universa;). I expect more from bigger studios because they have bigger resources, financial and other. While Norm of the North is not the best film, it’s a start and the studio is getting its chops. I say this as a fellow filmmaker. If you look at my first videotaped reviews and short films you would think they are terrible. Yet I continue to work on my craft and grow. I’m constantly told by other filmmakers that, no matter how bad or silly your movie idea is, go film it.  Splash Entertainment got a chance and they took it.  Even though they did not hit one out of the Ball Park, they got to play the game with the big boys. I hope this does not discourage Splash Entertainment from making movies and that they learn from the criticism and keep building.


This brings me to the subject of criticism, specifically with films. The situation with Norm of the North reminded me how people today review films with a bitter tone. What is a film critic? If you look it up on Google, you will see: “a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something.” I used to believe in this dKeefer.2014.5.jpgefinition. Film critics watch films and complain about how bad they are. In fact, I had a problem in the beginning of my work as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic of not giving useful reviews for most of the films I watched. What I did was nitpick. Now, I have learned that the job of a critic is so much more. Critics are given a bad wrap, usually associated with highbrow aristocrats who believe in the glory days of cinema and do nothing but whine. While there still are some of those types around, it’s important to remember that critics are here for the people. We recommend movies and help guide people in the world of cinema. In the end, the true critic is you, the viewer. Critics are a reference. It’s up to you, the viewer to create your own opinions and beliefs about films and not let other people, critics or otherwise, make decisions for you.


The thing I needed to remember, and I realized this more while becoming a filmmaker, is that it’s hard to create any movie. There is pre-production, production and post-production. It’s all long and complicated. That does not mean that bad films deserve a pass. By any means there are some horrible films out there that deserve the rating they get. I’m learning that, as a teen studying what it takes to be a film maker, I have become more open minded and aware when it comes to reviewing films. Next time you see a film and tear it apart, ask yourself, could I have made a better movie? If the answer is no then don’t be so rough on the movie. If the answer is yes then you go out there and film a movie yourself. Hopefully I’ll want to give your film 5 out of 5 stars.

Whoopie Goldberg, A Force of Her Own! by Brianna Hope Beaton

February 16th, 2016

WhoopiGoldberg.jpgWith the Oscars coming up right around the corner and this being black history month, I’m striving to mix the two. The first female to solo host the Oscars, as well as be the first African American to host the Oscars, is Whoopi Goldberg.

This award-winning comedian, actress and human rights advocate, was born on November 13, 1955 in New York City. Originally named, Caryn Elaine Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg and her younger brother Clyde, were raised by their single mother, Emma. Ms. Goldberg changed her name when she determined that her given name was too boring. She dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and was unknowingly suffering from dyslexia. She is best known for her proficient representations in both comedic and dramatic roles, as well as her outstanding work in the Hollywood film industry as an African-American woman. During her stay in San Francisco, Ms. Goldberg was awarded a Bay Area Theater Award for her portrayal of comedienne Moms Mabley in a one-woman show.  In 1983, she starred in the extremely popular The Spook Show. Among her most touching and characteristically opposing creations were “Little Girl” and “Fontaine“. Director, Steven Spielberg cast Ms. Goldberg in the principal female role of his 1985 production of The Color Purple, a film that went on to earn ten Academy Awards and five Golden Globe nominations. Ms. Goldberg received an Oscar nomination and her first Golden Globe Award, for Best Actress. Ever since “The Color Purple,” Ms. Goldberg has appeared in more than 80 film and television productions. Her performance as Oda Mae Brown in the 1990 film Ghost led to a number of landmark achievements. She won the 1991 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the second African-American woman to win an Oscar. The role also acquired Goldberg her second Golden Globe, as well as the Black Entertainer of the Year Award from the NAACP and the Excellence Award at the Women in Film Festival. In 1992, Whoopi initiated her own television talk show, The Whoopi Goldberg Show. Featuring Whoopi in one-on-one interviews with well-known political and Hollywood celebrities, the show ran for 200 episodes until 1993. In 1994, 1996 and 1999, Ms. Goldberg hosted the Academy Awards, making her the first woman to do so. Whoopi Goldberg became a moderator of the daytime talk show The View on September 4, 2007. During her time on The View, Ms. Goldberg sought out other creative openings. She went behind the scenes to direct the 2013 documentary “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley”. She also appeared on several episodes of the TV musical Glee and was among the famous faces in the collection cast of Big Stone Gap (2015). An author of both children’s and adult fare, she gives out relationship advice with her 2015 book, If Someone Says ‘You Complete Me,’ Run!BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg

“We’re born with success. It is only others who point out our failures and what they attribute to us as failure.” –Whoopi Goldberg

I admire Whoopi Goldberg because she has been in some of my favorite movies and she continues to break barriers.  I aim to be as memorable as her with the all the contributions she has made to her craft and society.

Oscars So White By Willie Jones

February 2nd, 2016

racist_oscars.jpgSpike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith will be boycotting this year’s Academy Awards. Why? Because, for the second consecutive year, all 20 of the acting nominees are white. Even Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, has expressed her disappointment with the lack of diversity in the nominees. She’s said she was “heartbroken and frustrated” by the lack of diversity. Actor David Oyelowo, who many feel was snubbed last year for his performance as Martin Luther King in Selma, said that the nominations don’t reflect him or “this nation.”

As a black actor who is a connoisseur of the Academy Awards and one who is well aware of the lack of minority recognition in its history, I have an opinion on this. But it’s one that has nothing to do with The Academy. First, I’d like to say that this isn’t just about black actors. This is about ALL minority actors who are left out, including Hispanics and Asians. With that said, the problem is the not The Academy. It is simply a byproduct of the issue. Just looking at this year and the acting categories, the biggest snubs are: Michael B. Jordan in Creed, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Benicio Del Toro in Sicario and Will Smith in Concussion. Can you see the problem in that? I’ve only listed four names. Last year, the big snub was David Oyelowo in Selma. That’s just one name.

Here’s what I’m getting at. The Academy can only nominate what they’re given to nominate. An outrage cannot be put at them because they only (realistically) had those options. If you consider just four performances against the other 20+ potential white candidates, the odds aren’t in their favor. I believe that the fault does not lie solely with the Academy, but with the industry itself. They are NOT one in the same. The Academy nominates what the industry gives it.  The industry is the machine cranking out these contenders so it is the root of the issue. It isn’t cranking out enough diverse contenders. The blame begins with the directors, producers and casting directors who choose who stars in what. If you’ll notice, of those snubbed, only one didn’t have to be black. By that I mean that their character could have been played by anyone. The point I am trying to make is that a lot of minority nominees play real life people such as slaves or other roles that MUST be played by a person in a minority.Awards3.jpg

But here’s what will make the difference. Take, for example, Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, a performance that garnered quite a lot of critical praise. His character could have been played by a minority actor such as Javier Bardem or Ken Watanabe. But with roles like that, casting directors often select a white actor. Why? I won’t even begin to try to answer that question.

Let’s look at the directors who write the films they direct. For example, take Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, a film written and directed by him. It was not adapted from any book or real event. It came fresh from the mind of Damien. If you’ve seen Whiplash, you know that Terrence Fletcher could have easily been played by a black or Asian person. Am I saying Damien Chazelle is a racist? No. Am I saying he has something against minorities or casting them? No. What I’m saying is that casting white actors is the norm.  Without any statistical proof, it seems that most writers are more likely to write about what they know or write for people similar to themselves. When Damien Chazelle wrote Whiplash, chances are he wrote it with a white guy in mind. That’s not a bad thing nor is he to be at fault for that. It just brings up another point: The backbone of every film is a script. Nothing is done without. It is THE first step and sets the ball rolling. It tells what and who is needed to bring the work to life. If writers write for who and what they know best, then I suppose the deepest root of the issue begins with the writers. With that being the case, in order to change things we need to support minority Awards2.jpgwriters to write about their own lives and the world they live in.

Let’s look at another side to that. Suppose any writer of any ethnicity writes a story starring people who are racially ambiguous. Those parts have to be cast. Directors, producers and casting directors most often do the casting. They cast actors who they know best. They tend to be most comfortable with actions who are of the same race as they are. And, though they may not be racist, are more likely to be comfortable working with people who are most like them. So, another issue is the need to have more minority casting directors, directors and producers. Let’s support them and push them up through the ranks.

In short, the issue with the “White Oscars” isn’t just The Academy. It’s the people who are supplying the Academy. It’s the lack of minority filmmakers with power. It’s the lack of films about or containing minorities. It’s the lack of box office results attached to those films. Thank goodness for the likes of Ang Lee, Denzel Washington, Javier Bardem, Morgan Freeman and others who have bridged the gap and proven that minority actors can be acclaimed and recognized. But they won’t be around forever and there aren’t enough of them. Sure, Denzel and Freeman may get the roles that are racially ambiguous, but what about the others? Look at Chadwick Boseman. His major roles have been playing Jackie Robinson and James Brown and he’s about to play Thurgood Marshall. All those roles HAVE to be played by an African American. Why not cast him as Mark Watney in The Martian or Mike Shiner in Birdman? Who says Don Cheadle couldn’t have played Birdman himself? I’ll tell you who. It’s the directors, the casting directors, the writers and the producers. Ironically enough, the writer, director and producers of Birdman (who won an Oscar for doing all of the aforementioned) is a minority himself. Yet there isn’t a single minority in a major role in that film.

We need filmmakers like that giving minorities opportunities. Don’t get me wrong. Tyler Perry does a lot for the black film community. But those are not films that will garner an actor the respect that the Academy can give. WWillie1.jpge need filmmakers like Scorsese, O. Russell, Allen, Nolan, Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson and many other acclaimed directors to push for casting minorities in their films. John Singleton and Spike Lee can’t do it alone.

To quote George Clooney who made a statement earlier about this issue, “There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this.” Yes Mr. Clooney, Hollywood must get better at this.

The Boundless Creativity of Studio Ghibli by Clayton Pickard

January 26th, 2016

StudioGhiblijpg.jpgMove over Pixar!  Studio Ghibli is considered the premier animation house by many cinephiles. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of Studio Ghibli which was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, Yasuyoshi  Tokuma, Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki. Studio Ghibli has released twenty-two feature films so far. The first film they made was Nausicaa: The Valley of the Wind in 1984, but the first Ghibli film released in the U.S. was My Neighbor Totoro, in 1993. I admire Studio Ghibli for their visual creativity, complexity and nuance. Plus there is always an important theme in each film. I also revere the Japanese studio because of all the strong women protagonists they include in every movie.CastleintheSky.jpg

My three favorite Studio Ghibli films are Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. They are all directed by Hayao Miyazaki and all three deal with important themes.  Castle in the Sky is influenced by Gulliver’s Travels and deals with the greed and power of totalitarian government. Spirited Away is more abstract, mysterious and mesmerizing. It is a coming-of-age film that definitely makes comments about greed and environmental pollution. It won the Oscar for Best Animated FWhisperoftheHeart.jpgeature in 2003 and is #30 on IMDB’s Best Films of all time list.  Last, Princess Mononoke is the strongest conservation film in the Ghibli oeuvre. They are all beautifully animated, have great voice-overs and terrific soundtracks.

My mother is partial to Whisper of the Heart by Yoshifumi Kondo, The Cat Returns by Hiroyuki Morita and The Tale of Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata. In addition to Princess Kaguya, Isao Takahata directed the wonderful Grave of the Fireflies, which won two awards at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 1994.  It is also rated #62 on IMDB’s best films of all time. The Tale of Princess Kayuga garnered tons of international awards and was nominated for an Oscar last year for Best Animated Feature.  My mother loves the charm and lyricism of these films. Again, all three have strong female protagonists.

I have seen 18 out of the 22 features by Studio Ghibli and I am looking forward to sOnlyYesterday.jpgeeing the other four. One of those four, Only Yesterday, was recently released in the US.  It was directed by Isao Takahata in 1991,  but is only now getting its U.S. distribution.

Gotta run guys.  I’ve got to make the 4:35 showing of Only Yesterday at IFC center!

Clayton.jpgBy Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

One Hundred Years of Film by Gerry Orz

January 19th, 2016

Cineorama_camera.jpgThe year 1888 may not seem too important. It has three 8’s in it! This is the year the first movie camera came to life. 138 years later, we now have upgraded from a few frames per second to a standard 24 frames per second for motion pictures.

Along the way, we discovered ways to add color and music to films and decided to create stories using this mysterious equipment. We learned to add editing techniques that took hours to create, such as a title displaying what the person is saying! You’d think that would be it right? No. We then added speech, but let’s not rush ahead.

A popular art called animation that existed through flipping pictures and moving plates, discovered this strange thing called “film” and combined forces. In 1900, these two arts came together to form the first filmed animation. Amazing huh? Couldn’t get any better? But, it did. Genius directors figured out they could color the frames and do things to them to add effects and color. They kept improving cameras with better sound and better visual quality. Eventually, they figured out a way to not have to spend weeks coloring each scene and just let the good old camera slave for them. These enhancements in cameras were unbelievable.

SNOWWHITE.jpgYou wouldn’t believe it could get better but again, it did. In the early 1930s some crazy man decided to do something everyone thought was impossible, a dumb idea, and one that would ruin his career. However, this idea caused his career to flourish and he created one of the largest companies in the world. This man’s name is Walt Disney and his passion drove him to create the first color feature animated film called Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

However, people were tired of having to drive or walk to the theater so, in the 1920s we got television! Now people got to watch shows, movies and more, right in their own living room. How fun! For a while, nothing happened that is worth mentioning. The sound improved, the film editing got easier, the picture quality got MUCH and I mean MUCH better. We have seen some pretty cool movies such as Gone With The Wind and some random movie called Star Wars A New Hope, Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and a few others.

Animation took a huge leap since its birth in Snow White. Directors started using something called stop motion animation, which made the illusion of things, like clay and bricks move around! Then, along came digital cameras, which moved away from bulky film. This allowed for digital editing software, special effects and the next generation of animation - CGI, or computer generated graphics. We FILM.JURASSIC.JPGfirst really saw this in Jurassic Park, with its amazingly realistic digital dinosaurs and in the late 1990s, we got a film completely created on a computer, Toy Story. Audiences stored movies and TV shows on videotapes and then DVDs, which had better quality and were less bulky!

Next, we got Blu-Ray, with even more vibrant colors and high definition images. Imax, with its 70mm film came into theaters, displaying films on extremely large screens in very clear quality. 3D and 4D came next, 3D making the picture jump out to you in 3 dimensional imagery and 4D allowing you to “smell” what’s going on in the film. Next, audiences decided to follow the trend of boycotting theaters as the industry released 3D TVs, and soon, curved 4K smart TVs that allows you to watch thHeadshot.GerrySM.jpgeater quality imagery from your couch, bed or on your phone!

Now, we wait for the future – for better cameras and more affordable ones. The entertainment industry continues to surprises us. Who knows, maybe you will be the next one to build an 8K TV or a hovering camera that can record in all spectrums. The future is mysterious and also, exciting!

Don Bluth, The Animator Awakens by Keefer B.

January 12th, 2016

DonBluth.jpgA new year and a fresh beginning. With 2016 here, it’s hard not reminiscence about 2015 and a lot has happened. Jon Stewart and David Letterman left their shows. We said farewell to Spock. And the USA finally passed marriage equality. Then there are all the extraordinary films that came out. One being a certain anticipated Sci-fi film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens (all the Star Wars fans scream femininely). Yes, this film created a lot of excitement for movie goers. However, that’s not my subject for today’s blog. A lot of the praise for this film came from the fact that it brought the original vibe that many of the fans loved from episodes 4 through 6 and also added fresh material for a new generation of audience members. Not only has the Force Awakened but so has legendary animation director Don Bluth. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, here is some background information.

Bluth touched audiences in the 80s and 90s. He was originally an animator for Disney and worked on RobinDonBluth2.jpg Hood, The Rescuers and was director of animation for Pete’s Dragon.

When he as 42, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and nine other Disney animators started their own animation studio called Don Bluth Productions. The studio’s first film was The Secret of NIHM in 1982. The film was an adaptation of the book “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM”. This is my favorite film by Don Bluth. It captures the wonder and mystery of both science and nature. From there, Bluth has made films with producer Steven Spielberg who needs no introduction. The two made the films An American Tail and The Land Before Time. Bluth made several films after that. His last one being Titan A.E. in 2000. Bluth went on to do other animation jobs but has sadly has not made a film since.

Much like Star Wars, greatness can never stay down. On December 1, 2015, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman started an Indiegogo campaign to create Dragon’s Lair the Movie based on the groundbreaking 80s laser disk arcade game that Don Bluth designed.

The game allows you to control a cartoon-animated character and your actions determine the outcomDonBluth4.jpge of the game. It already looked like an animated film so it makes sense to finally make it into one. I don’t mean to make this blog a shameful plug but, if you want to donate and support this extraordinary dreamer, please do.

I’m excited for three reasons. First, I heard that Bluth and Goldman plan to use hand drawn animation in this film. I have nothing against CGI but, it is Bluth’s traditional style and there is a certain beauty when it comes to hand drawn animation. Second, Bluth is back! It’s like having Harrison Ford and Chewbacca flying the Millennium Falcon again after all these years. You get this tingling sensation. I want to see Bluth return with his beautiful animation and amazing characters. TKeefer.2014.5.jpghird and most important, a new generation of audiences will be exposed to Don Bluth.

Bluth’s films are unique because they treat kids with intelligence, giving them stories with deeper meanings and themes. The Land Before Time tackles the issues of prejudice between different species and The Secret of NIHM gives kids the theme of science vs. nature. These types of messages are not easy to portray to kids. Bluth mixes these thought provoking messages with memorable characters and magnificent animation. He has created a legacy that will live on forever and now, that legacy is expanding. His return gives me high hopes for the new year.

Actresses We Lost in 2015 By Brianna Hope Beaton

January 5th, 2016

Anita-Ekberg_2287191b_2.jpgSince we are in the first week of 2016, I wanted to write something regarding and commemorating some of the actresses that lost their lives in 2015. I would like to begin the new year honoring and showing respect to those who made us smile, laugh, cry, scowl, hide and rejoice. Thank you for all your contributions!

Maureen O’Hara, an Irish Actress and singer, passed away on October, 24, 2015 at the age of 95. “Every star has that certain something that stands out and compels us to notice them. As for me I have always believed my most compelling quality to be my inner strength, something I am easily able to share with an audience.  I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I never thought my looks would have anything to do with becoming a star. Yet it seems that in some ways they did.”

Catherine Coulson, known for her role as Log Lady, in the 90s show Twin Peaks, passed away from cancer on September 28, 2015 at the age of 71. “I don’t think I really possess the log. I think the log possesses me.”

Silent Film Actress Jean Darling, known for the role of Jean on Our Gang when she was four, passed away on September, 4, 2015 at the age of 93. “The crossover to talkies was just idiocy on the part of the producers.” Judy Carne (Joyce Audrey Botterill), an English Actress best remembered for the phrase “Sock it to me!” on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, passed away on September, 3, 2015 at the age of 76. “Sock it to me!”

Yvonne Joyce Craig, an American ballet dancer and actress best known for her role as Batgirl in the 1960s television series Batman, passed away on August 17, 2015, due to cancer at the age of 78. “I haven’t collected memorabilia. I am not a person who lives in the past”

Amanda Peterson, an American actress known for her role as Cindy Mancini in the 1987 comedy film Can’t Buy Me Love, passed away on July 3, 2015 at the age of 43. “I just love to act. I like to get away, totally play a different character, someone you can get really involved in knowing. I’ve gotten really involved in some characters and written down little summaries of where they live and what their families are like.”

Anne Meara, known for her comedy with her husband, passed away on May, 23, 2015 at the age of 85. “I was glad he got us to be a comedy team, because then we weren’t just waiting for the agent to call, we traveled with our own stuff.”

Mary Ellen Trainer, known for her role as Dr. Stephanie Woods in the Lethal Weapon series, passed away on May, 20, 2015 at the age of 62.

Elizabeth Wilson, known for her Tony award in the play Stick and Bones, passed away on May, 10, 2015, at the age of 94. “Postmodernism refuses to privilege any one perspective and recognizes only difference, never inequality, only fragments, never conflict.”

Ellen Albertini Dow, known for her role in The Wedding Singer, passed away on May, 4, 2015, at the age of 101. “I don’t act up unless the music plays. When I dance, I’m completely different”

Grace Lee Whitney, known for her role as Yeoman Janice Rand on the original Star Trek series from 1966 - 1969, passed away on May, 3, 2015 at the age of 85. “My life is happy, joyous, free, sober and saved, and a lot of fun too. I have a lot of fun”

Suzanne Crough, known for her role as Tracy Partridge on The Partridge Family, passed away on April, 27, 2015 at the age of 52. “If I want something, I go after it.”

Jayne Meadows, known for her versatility for Broadway and the big screen, passed away on April, 26, 2015 at the age of 95. “The best people I know have had a lot of obstacles to overcome.”BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg

Alberta Watson, known for her role as Madeline on the cable series La Femme Nikita, passed away on March 21, 2015, due to cancer, at the age of 60.” If I’ve learned anything in this career it’s that you have to hold on to the wisdom you’ve earned and to use it in your work. I bring an authenticity and experience in my work now that only comes with age and time.”

Anita Ekberg, known for her role in La Dolce Vita, passed away on January 11, 2015 at the age of 83. “I have loved, cried, been mad with happiness. I have won and I have lost”.

Donna Douglas, an American Actress and singer, known for her role as Elly May Clampett in CBS’s The Beverly Hillbillies, passed away on January, 1, 2015, due to cancer at the age of 82. “Back then, it was more or less we couldn’t change a line in our script. We weren’t allowed to change lines. Today, actors change everything and won’t do parts. It’s very different today. Back then, the producers were in charge. Today actors are more in charge.”

Thanks ladies for all your hard work. You will be missed.

Are R Rated Films Suitable For 15 And 16 Year Olds? by Clayton Pickard

December 22nd, 2015

RRatings.jpgAs a new KIDS FIRST! Blogger, I thought for my first blog that I’d be really controversial and write about R rated movies that may be suitable for teens age 15 and up. Many people may disagree with me, but I think many R rated films are important for teens to watch with their parents or another mature adult. They are intelligent, well written and challenging. Often they are coming-of-age movies or about timely subject matter we are studying in school. Fun Movie Fact: Since the 90s, 14 of 21 Best Picture winners have been rated R.

Looking at the Oscar nominees and winners from last year, I have chosen a few films that stand out to me because of their well written screenplays and intelligence. Let us start with last year’s best picture winner, Birdman. It is a very creative and inspiring movie that shows the downside of fame. Then there is Boyhood, which I think should have won Best Picture. It is one of the best movies I have seen in my life! It follows a young boy through his childhood into adulthood. The most amazing aspect of the movie is that the child/adult is played by the same actor. The film took 12 years to make, so the filmmaker could follow this one actor as he grows up. Another great R rated film from last year is Whiplash. The story of a teenage drummer enrolled in a very rigorous music school, Whiplash drives you to the edge of your seat with great suspense and emotional anticipation. The whimsical whodunit, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is the funniest nominee among last year’s Oscars. Being a Wes Anderson film, it is one of the most creative movies on the planet. Teens should see it for its inventiveness, attention to detail and art direction. American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, is a worthy R rated film for teens because of its historical relevance. It is an incredibly emotional, sad story of an American sniper in Iraq, who has to make dire choices on a daily basis.

Clayton.jpgIn terms of 2015, the only worthwhile R rated film I have seen so far is The Big Short. This film is about the stock market crash of 2008 and the savvy investors who bet against the American housing market. Considered a black comedy, it is a dense, intellectual film that warrants another screening. The other R rated films from this year that I intend on seeing are The Danish Girl, Chi Raq, Macbeth, Spotlight and The Revenant. Stay tuned for my second blog when I will discuss some of these films.

Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

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