Jury Coordination and Notes

What Is The Point Of Exploring Space by Gerry O.

December 15th, 2015

Mars.jpgToday, I am going to get away from discussing Hollywood, movies and entertainment in general. I want to take a look at something that movies like to talk about, something that lately has been occupying everyone’s attention - space exploration. In the mid 1900s we had a space race with Russia and other countries to get out of the atmosphere. The U.S. got to the moon first, but Russia got to space first. I guess that might be called a tie. Now, what if I told you it is happening again?

NASA has made plans to go to Mars, which is almost a four-year mission. And, they aren’t the only ones interested. In United States, quite a few independent parties are keen on getting people to space as well. Other countries are also trying to get some of their people onto the big red ball. It makes you think, why explore space? I mean, we have so many problems on our cozy little blue ball called Earth. Why not just focus on fixing global warming, starvation and the education issues of future generations? Well, eventually our cozy little blue ball will become a bit too little. Our population right now is 7 billion. In 2023 we will hit 8 billion. In 2041, we will hit 9 billion. In 2062, we will hit 10 BILLION people on planet Earth. This may seem like some random number. “Yeah, 10 billion humans are alive, wahoo!” is what you are probably thinking. But that is not the case. At the moment millions of people here on Earth are starving. If we hit 10 billion as a worldwide population, the Earth’s resources will not be able to support all of us. It won’t just be people in Africa, or China or the United States, all of us will be hungry. Not only that, but land will get tighter, water supply will go down and there will be fewer and fewer forests. Earth will be like a sponge that we have squished out all the water out of.

LeonardMaltin.Gerry.jpgThis is why it is so important to study space, not only to look upon our own planet better, but to explore potential a new place to live. Because eventually, whether we’re looking at land, or food, or water, or power or wood, we will run out. Soon, we will need some of the population to go somewhere else. The best option in our Solar System, at this point, is Mars - the red, attractive planet that seems so desolate and pointless, with just a reddish rock here and there. Its surface resembles the desserts of Nevada, only they cover a whole planet. Now we know that Mars not only has water, it used to have quite a bit of it. All those crusts and channels you see in pictures of Mars? That used to be water. Hopefully by 2062, when we do hit 10,000,000,000 people, we will have already converted a large part of Mars into a “New Earth.” Now imagine that?

Editors: The Silent Directors By Keefer C.Blakelee, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

December 8th, 2015

FilmEditing.jpgI am attending an art school under the conservatory Film and Television. It is an academy where we study the art of making films and television. V. I mention this because recently I have been taking an editing class. When I first started the class I looked at editing as a necessity to know but I honestly thought the job was simply about putting scenes together - just paste, cut, splice, dissolve and that’s it. However, as I learn more about editing and edit my own projects, I have gained a new appreciation for editing as an art form. It dawned upon me that editing not only creates the pace of the film but also the atmosphere. Since taking this class, I look at films differently. I notice the cuts, splices and the overall flow of the film. For example, when I watched Good Morning Vietnam, starring the late Robin Williams, I noticed editing techniques that make the film more enjoyable. The editor of the film was Stu Linder. He was able match the films pace with Robin Willam’s quick-witted dialogue through the magic of editing. My favorite scene is when William’s plays Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” The peaceful song is played while we see the violence taking place on the battlefield. Linder’s beautiful editing allows the movie to create a slow and dramatic moment. Scenes such as that really demonstrate the power of good editing.

I now see the editor as the conductor of a grand orchestra. He or she controls the tempo and rhythm of the film. Films are created by many people doing many jobs. Each contributes an important part in the making of a film. The editor takes all their work and pieces it together. While I still appreciate directors, I now see that film editors are the silent directors who help create the director’s vision. So, I now not only hope to become a great director but a marvelous editor.

Keefer.2014.5.jpgThe purpose of this blog is not only to create more awareness of film editors but also, showing another way to appreciate filmmaking. It goes without saying that I love movies. Becoming a film critic for KIDS FIRST! has allowed me to channel that love and passion through my reviews. Now that passion is applied in studying the art of filmmaking. Having growing up praising films and adoring other filmmakers, I am taking that passion and make films that can touch people the same way they have me.

As I take this journey, I will continue to share my experience through my blogs - sharing the insights I discover and my admiration for the films and filmmakers I love.

DiCaprio is Not The Most Overdue Actor for an Oscar by Willie J. .

December 1st, 2015

ellen_oscar.jpgLet the hate begin. I know I may get a lot of flack for this but it is the truth. Mind you, I am not saying he’s never deserved an Oscar nor am I saying he’s untalented. But what I am saying, is that there are actors out there who have been snubbed longer and more often than Mr. DiCaprio. His fans, who I’d say wouldn’t be fans if it weren’t for his good looks, will surely wish to hurt me after this but movie fans and those passionate about the art form of cinema will hear me out and understand where I’m coming from.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for an acting Oscar four times, and some say he should have more. People think he should’ve been nominated for more- naturally. The reason I bring up this point is that Leonardo DiCaprio, for the past ten years or so, has had a fan base that complains about him “never winning an Oscar” and that “they’ll never give him Oscar.” Some say he’s the second coming of Pacino. But where are the millions of adoring fans carping about Gary Oldman not having an Oscar? Or Donald Sutherland? Or Glenn Close? Or Michelle Pfeiffer? Or Annette Bening? Or Max Von Sydow? We’re talking about actors who have been performing their craft at the highest level for over 50 years and none of them were particularly considered sex symbols in their prime eras. But then, the biggest sex symbol of his era has a following of fans that would protest AMPAS themselves over the fact Leo hasn’t received an Oscar. And that is a travesty. Not because Leo isn’t talented, but because other actors with a larger legend don’t have the backing of those same people. Perhaps they don’t because the merit given by the fans would have nothing to do with their physical appearance.

If DiCaprio’s fan base fought passionately over his Oscar-less career because they feel he’s made great art and would fight for his award, it would be different. But Glenn Close has been acting for four decades and has gone through six nominations without the precious prize. Where’s the outrage for her? Someone who’s as big a legend as she is deserves such support. The woman has made her mark with great films such as Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and 101 Dalmations. Broadway has seen her immense talent and she’s succeeded there. She’s mastered the medium of television as well with the hit show Damages. Yet there aren’t multitudes of young adoring fans defending her case for an Oscar. Is it because she’s not a world renowned beauty?

Or let’s take even better examples. Gary Oldman, one of our most versatile actors for more than thirty years has just a single nomination. It came three years ago. But no one is fawning over him and beating up AMPAS for not rewarding him. Donald Sutherland is maybe the greatest actor without a nomination. For more than forty years he has given consistently great performances in films such as MASH, Ordinary People and Day of the Locusts. He’s entranced us on both TV and the Silver Screen, yet he hasn’t a single nomination. But there isn’t any outcry over his snubs.Willie1.jpg

Where are the outcries for Annette Bening’s Oscar-less career. The Grifters? American Beauty? Being Julia? The Kids Are All Right? Nothing. And those are only her nominated performances. She’s been entertaining us for thirty years strong without due recognition. Then, to cap this all off, what about the great Max Von Sydow. Where’s the award for The Virgin Spring? Wild Strawberries? The Seventh Seal? Or Through a Glass Darkly? Let’s not forget The Exorcist. He’s been doing this since the 40s, but no one is outraged or arguing for his Oscar.

DiCaprio, by measure, has been in movies for almost a quarter of a century and he didn’t start giving consistently good performances until the turn of the century. What separates him from the legends mentioned? He’s got the looks. Isn’t it sad? There are campaigns from his fans to get him his Oscar but the Oldman’s and the Sydow’s of the world are forgotten…or even worse, unappreciated.

I’ve ranted before about the decline of artistic appreciation. It disturbes me when an actor’s looks gains him sympathy about the lack of deserved recognition rather than their talent. I please with AMPAS, give Donald Sutherland his nomination, let him know you know he’s there. Give Oldman his win. Give Glenn Close her much awaited win. We needn’t have a female Peter O’Toole.

Speaking of Mr. O’Toole. Where’s his Oscar? Zero for eight is an awful track record for someone who gave us Lawrence of Arabia, Becket and The Lion in Winter. Yet Leo DiCaprio gets all the crusades about his being without the gold. Where’s Leo’s Lawrence of Arabia? Or is he too sexy for one.

Think about that.

Most Oscar-Nominated Actress by Brianna Hope Beaton

November 16th, 2015

MerylStreep.jpgMeryl Streep is the most Oscar-nominated actress with 19 nominations. She is considered one of America’s favorite actresses.


Meryl Streep, born,  Mary Louise Streep, June 22, 1949 to Mary Wolf and Harry William Streep in Summit, New Jersey. She attended Yale School of Drama and received her first Oscar nomination for her role in The Deer Hunter (1978). She won her first Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting role for her performance in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Sophie’s Choice (1982).


Meryl Streep is a great actress. She makes her audience believes she is actually going through whatever her character is going through. She’s committed to her craft, a perfectionist who will do what’s needed to prepare for her roles. She learned to play the violin by practicing for six hours a day for eight weeks for her role in Music of the Heart (1999). She is also known for ability to master almost any accent.


Although I have not seen most of her films, I loved her excellent performance in Into the Woods (2015). I was truly scared of the Witch. I felt her pain and hated her at times.  As a young actress, I look up to her and am in awe of her performances. In the film, The Devil Wears Prada (2006), her performance is so real, it made me you hate her for the way she treated the intern and everyone else. This to me shows what a great actress she is when you have the audience hating your character because you are so true to it.BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg


A fact about Mrs. Streep is that donated her entire salary from the film, The Iron Lady (2011), for which she won another Oscar for Best Performance by an actress in a leading role,  to the Women’s History Museum and donated her wardrobe from The Devil Wears Prada (2006) (Nominated for an Oscar also) to a charity auction.  This is another reason why she is one on my favorite actresses. I love her charitable contributions.


One of my favorite quotes by Meryl Streep is, “The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy”. Empathy, the understanding and entering into another’s feelings.  This is what makes her a great actress!



YouTube: What You Did and Did Not Know, Now You Do by Gerry Orz

October 25th, 2015

google_youtube.jpgYouTube is the third most popular site of the 300,000,000 sites of the Internet. It has over One Billion accounts, just to give you a perspective. This is a whopping one-third of the Internet!

Let’s compare it to good old TV. By that I mean, providers that usually provide you with hundreds, sometimes thousands of channels. This seems like a pretty good bargain, but lets look a bit deeper. Those thousands of channels all air different things at different times. Want to watch a particular show? Wait until nine tonight. While on Netflix, (which  has 64 million users, 10 million more than every large TV provider), there are thousands of movies and TV shows available for instant streaming. So many people have decided to just use their Amazon Prime and Netflix accounts and eliminate the satellite line. With new Smart TV’s becoming cheaper and cheaper, soon these ultra large instant streaming services, and others such as Hulu, are going to be leading in TV programming. Already, for many shows, they are aired on Amazon Instant Video before going to live TV.

Let’s peak into YouTube a bit more. This massive site is getting all the more popular with people of all ages. Although it may not have movies and new episodes of shows, there are around 300 hours of independent videos uploaded every minute! Yes, you heard me right. That is equal to a whole season on TV and, it’s not just coverage and tutorials on Headshot.GerrySM.jpgYouTube. There are so many skit channels and channels that are entire series, some as famous as big TV shows. Another thing about all YouTube is that, if you’re like almost every other person in United States, you have some sort of computer and some sort of Internet access, or have an Internet providing place nearby such as a library or fast food places. So, you can get it for free. Of course, there is paid content like movies and TV shows on YouTube but, let’s be honest, with millions of hours of videos on YouTube, everyone has a channel that makes content that’s perfect for them. Thousands of people spend all of their TV watching time watching programming on YouTube. The largest channels have 10,000,000+ subscribers. Not only do viewers get entertained for hours, the creator makes a career out of it. The largest part of entertainment known as TV is transforming into a new thing where someone can have a good idea and produce it with their phone. People are wrong about TV watching dying. TV is evolving into a much larger entertainment system through this system known as the world wide web.

If you’re not a YouTube user already, it might be time to give it a while. And, while you’re at it, subscribe to our KIDS FIRST! Channel and be the first to get our latest reviews and red carpet coverage.

Fall and Winter Movie Hype by Keefer Blakeslee

October 21st, 2015

SeeYouatMovies.2.jpgSpielberg, Zemeckis, Howard, Hooper and James Bond. What do these people have in common. They all have films coming out in fall or winter of 2015! To me this is the best time of the year for films. It’s the quarter before award season and all the Hollywood studios want to bring out their best films. I usually get excited this year and I’m ten times more excited than usual when I saw the line up for this fall. I have not seen a list of films this big in a while! In that spirit, I have created a list of my top film choices for the fall and winter seasons. Get your calendars out and start planning your movie viewing schedule now.

Note: Willie and I talked about this subject on are radio show before. If you want to listen to that, check it out on our radio show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions.

thedanishgirl.jpg1) The Danish Girl
Directors: Tom Hooper, Lasse Hallström
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, and Matthias Schoenaerts
Release date: November 27th
Rating: N/A
Synopsis: Artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) undergoes a sex-change operation in the early 1900s.
Hooper directed one of my favorite films of all time The King’s Speech. That alone gets me excited, but the subject matter they’re addressing is fascinating and important.

I think this story would be a delicate matter to portray but I have high hopes with the filmmakers and actors in it.

2) The Walk
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, and Ben Kingsley
Release date: September 30th
Rating: PG
Synopsis: In 1974, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) attempts to walk on a tightrope attached to the north and south towers of the World Trade Center.

This film has a special place in my heart because I grew up reading this story. When I went to elementary school, one of my favorite books was “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.” I read it to myself, my mother and my teacher. This takes me back to elementary school. Who dares put my childhood story on the big screen?! Zemeckis?!! I’m sold.

3) Bridge of SpiesBridgeOfSpies.jpg
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance and Amy Ryan
Release date: October 26th
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: New York lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is recruited by a CIA operative (Scott Shepherd) to negotiate the release of pilot Francis Gary Powers after getting captured by the Soviet Union during the Cold War .

Let’s go over the list. One of the best directors of all time? Check.
One of the best actors of all time? Check.
Written by the incredible Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel? How? Also check.
I think these reason are more than enough to be on the list.

4) In the Heart of the Sea
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Tom Holland
Release date: December 11th
Rating: PG-13Keefer.2014.5.jpg
Synopsis: The incredible tale that ultimately inspired author Herman Melville to write “Moby-Dick.”

I think Spielberg said it best when describing his film Minority Report,“Yes it’s a popcorn movie, but it’s a gourmet popcorn movie.” That’s exactly how I would describe what I think this film is going to be. This is not supposed to be a loaded remark. In fact I trust director Ron Howard to keep the spirit of this iconic story while also adding his own twist.

5) Spectre
Directed: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz and Ralph Fiennes
Release date: November 6th
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: James Bond is up against the sinister organization SPECTRE.

If you asked me, “What do you think is cinema’s biggest action icon?” I would answer, “Bond…James Bond.” The man who likes his martini shaken not stirred is coming back on the big screen. To see Ian Fleming’s character still alive and well is amazing. Because of that, it makes it to my list.

Hopefully you will find films that you would also like to see. With this line up of films coming out, it’s a perfect way to end the year. As Ebert would say, “Thank you and I’ll see you at the movies.”

Black Actresses in Hollywood By Willie Jones

October 11th, 2015

Viola_Davis.jpgViola Davis recently became the first black actress to ever win the Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Drama Series, for her performance in How to Get Away With Murder. In her acceptance speech, she gave a quote that will surely go down in the history of great acceptance speech quotes. Ms. Davis said, “The only thing that separates a woman of color from anyone else, is opportunity.” Truer words have never been spoken.

I’m not saying black actresses don’t get any recognition at all, or ever have, because that’s not true. Since 1939, when Hattie McDaniel laid the foundation for black actors in general with her Supporting Actress win for Gone With the Wind, black actors have been getting some recognition. But the issue is, that black actors, and actresses especially, don’t get enough recognition.

Consider that a black actress never won Best Actress at the Academy Awards until 2002. Until this year, no black actress won the Emmy for Leading Actress in a Drama. A black actress didn’t win Best Actress in a Play at the Tony Awards until 2005. But, I would like to focus on Hollywood and the movie industry.

The Hollywood ladder, in terms of power and appreciation, is as follows: white male, white female, black male, black female. Black actresses are at the bottom of the barrel because they’re women and they’re a minority. That may explain why only 15 black women were Oscar nominated in the 20th century. I use the Oscars because that’s the highest honor anyone can get in Hollywood. This century alone has produced 13 Oscar nominated black actresses which means we’re improving.

Beyond that, what makes Viola’s win so legendary is that it is in the leading category. Most of the Oscar nominations earned by black actresses have been in the supporting category. As a matter of fact, on the night Viola Davis won her historic Emmy, two black actresses won for their performances in supporting roles. There have also been more Supporting Actress winners of color at the Oscars than in the Leading category. To this day, Halle Berry is still the sole black winner of the prestigious Oscar for Leading Actress. Additionally, it was another eight years before another actress of color was just nominated in that category. Willie1.jpg

Don’t get me wrong, being nominated is great no matter which category, but there is a prestige difference between Leading and Supporting. And the only reason that more black actresses aren’t nominated, is because they aren’t getting the roles. They aren’t somehow as marketable as the rest of the actors on the ladder. But there isn’t a black actress out there who couldn’t do what Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett can do. Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Angela Bassett could have played the lead in Still Alice, or The Kids or All Right or Little Children. It’s a shame that legends such as Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson or Ruby Dee didn’t get the recognition they deserved because they didn’t get the roles. Even before them, Ethel Waters, Hattie McDaniel, Juanita Moore and others were limited to roles of submissive nature.

So, I love Viola Davis’ win. Not just because she deserves it (she’s truly amazing in How to Get Away With Murder), but also because it’s another big step. Davis is becoming, if she hasn’t already become, a huge pioneer for black actresses. Along with Audra McDonald, who has won the most performing Tony Awards, they have jump-started the revolution for our generation.

The next step is to start getting black actresses nominated for roles that aren’t a slave, nanny, mammy, maid, impoverished citizen or real person. It’s time writers start writing roles for black actresses that could be played by any actress - roles in films like Blue Jasmine, The Savages, You Can Count On Me, Away From Her, Thelma and Louise and similar. Then maybe, we’ll have a black Katniss or a black Tris. The talent is there. The passion is there. The work ethic is there. But the roles aren’t. Spike Lee and Tyler Perry shouldn’t have a monopoly on the pool of black actresses. Directors such as Woody Allen should create roles for black women. Then, there’s the issue of having more black writers or casting directors, directors and producers who are more willing to give black actresses the chance to lead in their films.

The Help and 12 Years A Slave offer great roles for black actresses, but they also pigeonhole them. How about a black Clementine Kruczynski? Or how about Loretta Devine playing Kay in Hope Springs? All black actresses need is the opportunity and they will wow you.

Cheers to Viola Davis - First African American Woman to Win an Emmy By Brianna Hope Beaton

October 4th, 2015

ViolaDavis.jpgViola Davis just made history on September 20, 2015 becoming the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for being the best actress in the drama series, How to Get Away with Murder. This was her first Emmy win and nomination and started her emotional acceptance speech with, “In my dreams, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no how, I can seem to get over that line… That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. Let me tell you something - the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that simply are not there.”

Mrs. Davis grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island after her family moved there from South Carolina when she was two months old. She developed a love for acting in her teenage yearBriannaHopeBeaton2.jpgs and studied theater both at Rhode Island College and the prominent Julliard School in New York City. She made her debut with a small role as a nurse in 1996, The Substance of Fire.  She went on to appear as a guest on many TV shows, films and plays where she was awarded a Tony in 2001 for Best Featured Actress for her role as Tonya in the original production of King Hedley II and the 2010 for Best Actress in a Play for her rose as Rose Maxon in the revival of Fences.

Mrs. Davis is truly an inspiration to me and other young ladies who enjoy acting and want to pursue their dreams. She inspires me to continue with my craft, study and be better each and every day. Its women like her that shows how with determination, studying and opportunities, my dreams can come true.