Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

DreamWorks Has Dreamed Up Some Exciting New Animations For 2013

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

croods.jpgKIDS FIRST! Film Critic Morgan Bertsch, age 8, attended an exciting preview of three DreamWorks films scheduled to come out in 2013. All in 3D, Turbo, The Croods and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, are all sure to be box office hits. Morgan got to meet a lot of famous folks who were pleased to have such a lovely young interviewer.

Preview Event for Turbo, Mr. Peabody and Sherman and The Croods. All coming to the theaters 2013.
Review by Morgan Bertsch, age 8, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

I had an amazing time. I got to see the previews of three of the movies coming out in 2013 brought to you by DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox all in 3D.

is the story about a snail that is tired of being slow and longs to be a racer. Turbo has a brother who of course doubts Turbo will do much of anything in the way of excitement. He gets the power of lightning fast speed after an accident. The Indianapolis 500 is in his future. The graphics are amazing. There are tons of new characters to meet. I think everyone will love this movie coming out July 19, 2013.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman
is about the smartest dog in the world who adopts a little boy. He takes him on many adventures in his time machine to teach him about the world. He gets to experience the past in real life. We learn that Sherman loves cake, like all kids, but this turns out to be a bad thing. This story is based on a series produced by Jay Ward, who did The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. I had the pleasure of meeting his daughter Tiffany Ward who is one of the Executive Producers on this animated feature film. She is very pretty and wonderful to talk to. I think that carrying on her father’s legacy is very cool. I can’t wait until November 1, 2013 when we all get to see this movie and on go on the many adventures. The preview leaves us wondering what will become of Sherman since he stole the time machine, has taken a classmate with him and lost her.

The Croods was very funny. It is a little strange because it is about some wild cavemen and women. They are afraid of everything outdoors. All the neighbors seem to disappear. The teenage daughter tries to date a stranger and the whole family flips out. When their cave is destroyed they must rely on him and their family to find a new home. In true DreamWorks style, the scenes were original, colorful and different from anything you have seen before. I got to talk to Chris Sanders, who is also the voice of Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. He is one of the writers of The Croods. He really loves to draw and told me that they took different parts of various animals and mixed them together to come up with the crazy creatures you see in this movie. I have met and chatted with Cloris Leachman, who once again did an incredible job. She is the voice of Gran the Grandmother. Gran is very cute and very hungry. Let’s just say they all need to learn some table manners or well, learn what a table is first. They are cavemen after all. We will be able to see this March 22, 2013 in theaters.

When we left the filming we got to eat at three different stations. Turbo’s station was all decked out with checkered racing stripes and Tacos were being served. Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s station had crepes to die for and The Croods had burlap table clothes and scrumptious omelets.

DreamWorks always manages to make our dreams appear on the big screen and it looks like 2013 will be an amazing, fun time at the movies. I am so looking forward to seeing all of them.

Bringing ‘Quill’ to American Audiences

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Quill.JPGThe fact that Quill had been a big hit in Japan when it was released in 2005 was not the main reason Ed Arentz, managing director of Music Box Films, was attracted to the opportunity for his company to distribute the film in the United States. Part of the company’s programming strategy to obtain “art-house” films for kids, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog was released to theaters and VOD platforms this past May and streets July 10 on DVD.

Although it had been a top 10 release in 2005 in Japan and had done well in other markets, its screenings in the U.S. were mostly at festivals, which is where Arentz “happened to see it,” he says. “It spoke to me on a personal level,” he shares. The story follows the life of one remarkable dog from his puppy days through his time as a service animal to a disabled man and into his old age. For Arentz, the connection was immediate. “[I saw it] during a period of time when my daughter, wife and I were foster parents to seeing-eye puppies.”

He felt the movie was a great tribute to dogs in general, and “especially to these breeds, the enormously helpful service dogs. They are remarkable partners in so many different activities, able to do things we can’t do for ourselves.”

Believing Quill to be a moving film that would speak to others as it had to his family, Arentz says, “The biggest challenges were convincing colleagues and partners that this was a film we should get involved with.”

He gave it an extended title, adding to the simple name of the dog it biographies (“Quill”) the more informational “The Life of a Guide Dog.” And the company added subtitles. Not that there is much dialog, anyway, Arentz points out. “Quill is not a fantasy animal; he doesn’t speak. We intuit what Quill is thinking from the actions.

“The story, we felt, was affecting and direct enough, it didn’t need to be guided that much by subtitles.” Comparing the film to a picture book, Arentz says even a 5- or 6-year-old could follow the story. “A child will easily understand the emotional aspect of the story” – with maybe just a little input from his or her parent, filling in any additional details the subtitles provide.EdArentz.jpeg

This final paragraph comes to readers with a “spoiler alert” warning, so you may wish to read no further.

“Like the best dog films, from Old Yeller to Marly, this film ends in a bittersweet way,” says Arentz. But based on his own experience as a foster parent to three potential seeing-eye dogs (two of whom graduated to become seeing-eye companions and one of whom remains with his family as a pet), he feels the film is a very honest portrayal of dogs he calls “remarkable.”

Ed Arentz shares more about Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog as a guest on this week’s episode of KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions, which streams on Voice America Kids.

Photos: Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog DVD box art (top), Ed Arentz (bottom)

‘Flicka: Country Pride’ Scores on All Counts

Monday, April 30th, 2012

FlickaCountryPride.jpgA horse with a big heart, wide-open-space scenery and great country music, all packaged in a heartwarming tale of good overcoming adversity – this is a movie that has it all. Released May 1 from 20th Century Fox in a Walmart and Sam’s Club exclusive (and also in a Flicka collection available on, it has our KIDS FIRST! youth critics Brianna Beaton (age 12) and Julianna Noone (age 12) also singing its praises. The bond between horse and rider is one of the special aspects that touches Brianna most, and she shares the insight that the bond is what “allows them to trust each other to ride and compete.” “… Flicka plays an important role in helping people overcome obstacles in their lives,” observes Julianna, sharing the movie’s important message that “if you always give your best effort, the outcome doesn’t really matter because you gave it your all.”

Clint Black, country music superstar and Grammy Award winner, stars alongside wife Lisa Hartman. The Blu-ray and DVD includes a never-before-seen music video as well as  two behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the film that give more insight on the singer’s involvement with the Flicka franchise. 

Flicka: Country Pride
Reviewed by Brianna Beaton
(See her full review on video.)

This is a very moving and touching film with great country music.

I truly like this film because of all the bonding it has between a horse and her rider. They bond quickly, which allows them to trust each other to ride and compete. The acting by everyone is really good; however Stephanie Meyers (Siobhan Williams) acts extremely well and she stands out from the rest. It really makes me not like Stephanie because of how well she is portraying this mean character. The cinematography gives you great pictures of Flicka with her amazing jumping capabilities and allows you to appreciate this beautiful horse. I love the countryside — it is soooo pretty and you can see why someone would just absolutely love being in the country with nature. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere.

Flicka: Country Pride is a sequel to Flicka 2. It tells the story of Kelly (Kacey Rohl) and a wild mustang whose name is Flicka. They quickly bond and Kelly hopes to get Flicka into an upcoming competition. But the competition is fast approaching, and Kelly faces the additional stress of a rival trainer who plays dirty along with a growing fear of having to sell the stable. Then Toby (country singer Clint Black) gets involved to save the day. Good

Directed by Michael Damian (Flicka 2, Marley & Me), Flicka: Country Pride also has great country music by Clint Black that will definitely satisfy your craving for great country music. Even though I’m not a big country music fan, the music is still pleasant to listen to. My favorite part of the film is when Flicka first appears — she is so pretty.BriannaBeaton.jpg

In watching this film, I feel a great message would be to never lose hope. Always keep in sight your dreams and what you believe in. Be determined and focused!

Although this is mainly a family film, it is rated G and I recommend it to ages 5 to 12. This will definitely appeal to all horse lovers at heart.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars because, while it certainly has a good plot, it is just a tad drawn out and I kind of knew what to expect.

Flicka: Country Pride is absolutely a good film and I can almost promise that you will enjoy it as much as I do. It gallops onto DVD the first of May. So go gather up everyone and enjoy this family film.

Flicka: Country Pride
Reviewed by Julianna Noone
(See her full review on video.)

Flicka: Country Pride is a great film for the entire family. This film stars Kacey Rohl (Red Riding Hood) as Kelly, Lisa Hartman (Back To You and Me) as Lindy, country music star Clint Black (Flicka 2) as Toby, Max Lloyd Jones (Girl Fight) as Briggs and Siobhan Williams (Radio Rebel) as Stephanie.

This is a wonderful and heartwarming story about a family struggling to overcome a tragedy and difficult times and how they work through this, with the help of some friends. This film is about a very special horse — Flicka, a beautiful black mustang — and the special bond the wild horse builds with Kelly. After Kelly’s father dies, she shuts everyone out of her life, but Flicka slowly breaks her down and gives her some hope.

Flicka comes into Kelly’s life along with her owner, Toby, who becomes the new stable manager after Kelly’s father dies. Just as Flicka does for Kelly, Toby is there for Lindy, Kelly’s mom, when she needs it the most.

One of my favorite scenes is when Kelly and Stephanie battle in a riding competition over a boy they are fighting over. In this scene, Stephanie repeatedly tries to kick Kelly and knock her off her horse and win no matter what. This backfires on her, though, as it is Stephanie who falls off her horse. My other favorite scene is when Toby is working in his new office and reads the writing on the wall: “If you give it your all you’ve already won.” This is a phrase that Kelly’s dad liked to use and follow, and it reminds Kelly of her father. It’s a touching point in the movie and is very moving. It’s a good message for everyone to try and follow, in that if you always give your best effort, the outcome doesn’t really matter because you gave it your all.

My favorite character is Flicka because, even though Flicka is a horse, in this film as well as the first two films Flicka plays an important role in helping people overcome obstacles in their lives.Julianna.jpg

The film is shot on location in British Columbia, Canada, and the countryside is beautiful and makes you want to go outside and go horseback riding. The stunt coordinator, Kirk Jarrett, did a great job in setting the action scenes on the horses. The riding scenes were well shot and fun to watch.

 I rate this film 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend this film as well as the first two Flicka films for ages 5 to 105. Kids of all ages, particularly horse lovers, will enjoy these wholesome family-friendly films. Look for this film on DVD and Blu-ray starting May 1st. I can’t wait to watch this film again!

Photos: Flicka: Country Pride poster (top), Brianna Beaton (middle, Julianna Noone (bottom)

History and Art Drive ‘Return of the Horse’

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

ReturnOfTheHorse_watermarked_180x300.jpgA two-and-a-half-year labor of love, Return of the Horse gets its first screening May 17 at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, ahead of an upcoming schedule of screenings at film festivals and museums. The painstakingly researched documentary chronicles the history of America’s wild horses, North America’s native horse, interrelated with the “lifes and times” of the people – heroes, villains and victims – whose lives shaped their destiny.

“Painstakingly” is an unusually apt description in this case. Co-filmmaker Leo Hubbard notes that there is a lot of pain in the history of the American peoples’ relationship with the horse. The mustangs, prized for their endurance (and preferred by cattlemen for those long cattle drives popularized by Western, until the proliferation of railroad spurs shortened the drives to where the European horses could be utilized), were also cruelly treated pawns in the United States’ attempts to subdue the Native Americans.

The movie, aimed for an adult audience – with the ability to be presented to advanced high school students – was a challenge to husband-wife filmmakers Hubbard and Sharon Eliashar, both of whom produced, wrote, directed, filmed, edited and animated the film. Says Eliashar, “The challenge was to take complex scientific things and make it easy to explain them – to take historical concepts and show how connected they are to our relationship with the horse.” And also, she adds, to not make the movie a marathon eight-hour piece – an especially difficult task given the number of “Aha” moments they experienced during their research.

In addition to their background as educators, Eliashar and Hubbard bring a unique combination of artistic talents to the project. While they stress that Return of the Horse is not an entertainment film but is as accurate an account as science and history will allow from our 21st-century vantage point – the script was verified by leading historians at such respected institutions as The Smithsonian – its artistic elements are undeniable.

Eliashar, a musician as well as photographer (she was the film’s cinematographer), focused on creating an experience of authentic music throughout the film. Explains Hubbard, “When trying to get the flavor of the relationship, [she asked], ‘What were the sounds they were listening to? What music was Thomas Jefferson playing?'” She worked with the Library of Congress, for instance, to learn the first cowboy songs, and traced family records to track down living relatives in order to get the rights to include the music in the film – with more “Aha” moments along the way, for instance finding out that Jess Morris got the lyrics to “Goodbye Old Paint” from one of the era’s tremendous population of black cattle drivers.

Hubbard, an architect, artist and printmaker, put his talents into the graphics. Including maps, which are necessary to explaining history but commonly look like power point presentations. Not so in Return of the Horse. The goal, he explains, was to create powerful and beautiful images. “Every graphic should look like art you’d put on your wall,” he says.

While creating a film for “people who really want to learn,” as Hubbard expresses it, he and Eliashar have also crafted a sensory experience.

Photo: film still from Return of the Horse

KIDS FIRST! Is There: ‘Chipmunks’ Red Carpet and Kids Choice Awards

Friday, April 6th, 2012

MorganAndCheyenne_ChipwreckedRedCarpet.JPGIs it fun to be on the Red Carpet to talk to the celebrities when a film studio celebrates a new release? KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Morgan Bertsch (age seven) and Cheyenne Nguyen (age eight) eagerly share their excitement at the Twentieth Century Fox Red Carpet event on March 27 for the DVD and Blu-ray release that same day of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Reporting live from the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, they capture interviews with producers Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman, Andy Buckley (who plays Captain Correlli), Jason Lee (who plays Dave), Matthew Gray Gubler (who voices Simon), and actress Ariana Grande (who doesn’t appear in Chipwrecked but does add her voice to the concert that was part of the Red Carpet festivities).

Clips from the concert and clips from the movie are interspersed with Morgan and Cheyenne’s reporting and their interviews. Watching the KIDS FIRST! video coverage of the Red Carpet event is almost as much fun as being there, so do click and enjoy the video of KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Morgan and Cheyenne with the Chipmunks and friends.

For Cheyenne, the Chipmunks Red Carpet rounded out a full week that also had her representing KIDS FIRST! at the 2012 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards on March 31. The video is a high-energy few minutes of Cheyenne catching cast members of “Victorious!,” “A.N.T. Farm,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Big Time Rush” and the latest Wimpy Kid lead (Zachary Gordon) on the Red Carpet. Her charm gets them to open up and interact with her.

The video continues into the backstage after the Awards were presented, and some of the winners share with Cheyenne their excitement about the evening. Nickelodeon shares its coverage of the event, which was hosted by Will Smith, on its website.

Photo: KIDS FIRST! youth film critics Morgan Bertsch and Cheyenne Nguyen at the Red Carpet event for Twentieth Century Fox’s DVD and Blu-ray release of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.

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