The Kids Are Still Talking About KF’s Film Critics Boot Camp

BootCamp2011_AnthonyAranda_3.jpgThe memories and insights will last a lifetime even as last week’s KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp becomes history. Kids ages eight to 13 immersed themselves in film amid the heady atmosphere of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., guided throughout by filmmaker Janet Davidson, a long-time KIDS FIRST! stalwart.

“The best thing for me was getting to interview Nolan Sotillo and Janelle Ortiz from Prom because I was really nervous and then they ended up being, like, super nice, and it was really easy to talk to them,” says 13-year-old Raven Devanney, naming the actors who played Lucas Arnaz and Ali Gomez, respectively. “It was really fun.”

The stars made a similar impression on eight-year-old Anthony Aranda, who says, “Interviewing Nolan Sotillo and Janelle Ortiz is one of my favorite memories.”

Boot Camp-ers attended the red carpet event when Disney premiered its new Winnie the Pooh movie. “We got to see it early,” Anthony exclaims about the premiere, after describing a unique aspect of the red carpet event: “It’s usually a red carpet,” he explains, “but this time it was a honey-colored carpet. Because Winnie the Pooh likes honey.”BootCamp2011_RavenDevanney.jpg

“Being able to interview people on the red carpet [is a special memory for me] ’cause I had never interviewed anyone in person,” says Raven. “And it was a great experience.” It took some preparation, she adds, but it was pretty easy. “We got there about an hour early. All the campers sat at the table with Janet [Davidson, boot camp director] and Ranny, pitching ideas of questions to ask.” The confab was really helpful. “People would tell me questions that I hadn’t even thought about asking.”

It was a week of fun, says Anthony. And he’s got a special way to share his memories with his friends. “We were watching The Lion King 3D, and before [the screening], they gave us a picture of Pumbaa.” In fact, he adds, “The person who drew Pumbaa was there.” Anthony has a video, too, and he’s been showing that, too, to his friends at the year-round school he attends. “I’ve shown some people, and they think it was cool.” It was also “really cool” to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D, plus, he relates, “After we saw the movie, some of the producers came by, so we learned [about] making a 3-D movie.”

“Getting to meet a bunch of new people and make friends was really cool,” says Raven, who came to Southern Cal for the week from her home state of Colorado. “It was a really great experience all around. Being able to see the movies and then go home and write a review and then come into camp the next day and film them in front of everyone and being able to watch them back on the big screen was cool, too – being able to see what you look like on TV.”

It was hands-on learning, and everyone got to participate. Before filming their reviews on video, campers would read their reviews and everyone would share their suggestions. And when they’d film, Raven says, “Janet would give us suggestions on how to improve our filming.”

Experience itself provided her with lessons she feels are valuable: “It’s OK to be nervous [for an interview], because as long as you smile it’s a lot easier for the talent that you’re interviewing. And it’s good to research the people before you interview them.”

Photos: Anthony Aranda (top) and Raven Devanney (bottom) at KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp 2011

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