Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Joshua Carlson Wins Orlando Makes me Smile Contest

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Congratulations, Joshua Carlson! This teenager from Minnesota with a passion for independent film recently won a trip to Florida when he won the KIDS FIRST! Orlando Makes me Smile contest.

KIDS FIRST! teamed up with the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. and the Florida Film Festival for this short film competition with a theme focused on fostering family relationships and the joyful experiences that can be found in Orlando. Carlson won a family vacation for four in Orlando, complete with airfare, lodging, theme park tickets and all access filmmaker passes for the Florida Film Festival, April 9 through 18, 2010. In an email interview, Carlson tells us a bit more about his work and travel experience.

CP: When did you realize you had a passion for filmmaking, and what was the spark that triggered it?

JC: When I was 5 I realized I loved movies and everything that went into making them.  When I turned 12 I got my first video camera and I started making video’s with my family and I knew this was my passion. My first was a stop motion animation movie called Justice Heros.

CP: How did your family show support?

JC: They have encouraged me to pursue my dreams by getting training and learning what was really good equipment to use.

CP: When did your family start helping you with the productions, and how did they help?

JC: My sisters have acted in some of my films and they also have written most of the music. My parents have taken me to locations for shoots and helped me get equipment and have let me spend extra time working on my dreams of making films.

CP: How did you hear about the KIDS FIRST! contest, and what  made you decide to submit your work?
JC: My mom saw an article in the St. Paul paper telling about the contest. She asked me if I was interested in submitting something. Both my parents encouraged to give it a shot. I came up with my idea but had to wait until we had a big snow storm to shoot my idea. Right before Christmas we got 14 inches of snow in one snowstorm. I got up the next morning and told my family this is it; if we’re going to do this today is the day. It was still snowing when I shot the scenes.

CP: What does winning Orlando Makes me Smile and being part of the Florida Film Fest mean to you?

JC: This was a great honor to be chosen and win a prize this amazing. I’ve always thought about submitting my work and to be able to experience a large film festival like the Florida film fest so it was humbling experience to go a be a part of it.

CP: What was the best part of the trip for you?

JC: Being able to take my family on this trip with me and especially meeting George Schellenger. It was such an honor and privilege to spend time with him. He gave me so
much great advice, tips and ideas to help further my career.

CP: What are your plans for the future in regards to filmmaking?

JC: I have started my own studio called J.C. Studios, and I am in the process of putting together a good story line and producing a full length feature film. I am hoping to continue schooling after I graduate in media production and filmmaking.

Check out a short interview with Carlson on YouTube.

Zula Patrol: Animal Adventures in Space an Interview With Deb Manchester

Monday, July 13th, 2009

“The Zula Patrol: Animal Adventures in Space!” follows the intrepid team Zula in humor-filled stories that begin with a challenge, and end with a resolution, as they explore how insects, reptiles, mammals, plants and rocks form and interact with each other. Creator Deb Manchester, an audiologist turned filmmaker tells us about creating this title.

CP: You took topics (metamorphosis and ecosystems) that have been covered several times and made them fresh, fun and interesting. How did you do this?

DM: We try to put ourselves in kid’s mind. It’s fun to play with this topic. How would kids react? We take in the nature of kids reactions to make sure that it feels genuine. To make it fun and interesting — that’s where the villains come in. Our villains are not bright. They always foil things. They’re not aware of information and knowledge. Kids learn what the villains don’t know and the villains never understand. The kids get it when the villains don’t.

CP: How do you decide the songs and song styles that go into each
episode?

DM:  I wanted a retro sound like the Jetsons or Flintstones. I love the big band sound, especially for the theme song, so we hired a real band. The lyrics are written by head writers, a husband and wife team, and they make the lyrics so funny that the composer is motivated to write music to match it. We cover a gamut of music. I originally asked Jeff Daniels to work with us because I loved his music in another kid’s show. He has four kids who also loved the show.

CP: Please give an example of an obstacle you had to overcome while
producing this title and tell us how you overcame that obstacle.

DM: You take a topic and it seems simple at first, but it’s a fine balance getting enough real science without cheating the topic. For example, we might do an episode on planets that are talking. How far can you go with the imagination, but keep it true? Kids have a great sense of understanding what’s real and what’s not, but a main theme of ours is that we don’t teach the topic. We want it to be organic/real make sure that comes through. It’s difficult to keep true in a fantasy show.

CP: How have you grown as a producer while creating this title?

DM: When I first started producing this I was in the entry-level. I have learned so much in many areas. How much goes into the writing — we have incredible writers. A show needs to have good writings before it goes any further. Without the writing, it won’t make it. Music is also very important. I learned that we need to set goals for education without overdoing it. At first we started with three or four major goals, but we’ve learned that it’s better off doing one or two major learning objectives and maybe one or two minor objectives. This helps you develop a topic into a nice story. I also learned about working with animation studios overseas and working with cultural differences. Episodes 1-26 were filmed in South Korea and the episodes after 26 were filmed in China, and there were many cultural differences we had to overcome. I also saw how important was to have the right actors. Making a movie involves a huge team that pulls together.

CP: Please give an example of something funny or inspiring that happened
during development.

DM: After the show was released, a parent sent in a video of a five-year-old son who was dressed as a stage of a frog. He was singing the title song with a homemade microphone. Right at the end of the song, the microphone broke and the look on his face was precious. It was so cute to see him so excited about singing, and that he was so absorbed in the show that he wanted to be a tadpole.

CP: What do you hope viewers will come away with after watching this
title?

DM: We think we found the formula for making learning fun. Now we have an educational web site that makes learning fun. Targeted at ages five through 10, children learn while going on fun missions and playing games. Parents and educators also love the technological components that complement the school kits. This is a very exciting time for the company as we launch Zula World. We do have some episodes up on the site in our theater section.

Check out the fun interactive Zula Patrol website and look for “Zula Patrol: Animal Adventures in Space” in stores near you. In “Larvae or Leave Me “(the first episode), Skip the grasshopper can’t find his friend Wriggly the caterpillar – until he discovers, with help from The Zula Patrol, that Wriggly has transformed into a beautiful butterfly! Four additional stories on the DVD are:  “Egg Hunt,” “There Goes the Neighborhood,” “Choosing Sides” and “Camp Worm.”

An Interview With Brittany Curran From “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “Legally Blondes”

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Credit: Marty CurranCP: In all the films and TV show you have acted in so far, what has been your favorite experience and why?

BC: “Legally Blondes” would have to be my favorite.  The entire filming experience was a perfect combination of a great crew, great cast, and getting to play an awesome character.  Every morning Savage Steve Holland, our director, would hand me rewrites in the script for the scenes my character would be filming that day; then I would go in my trailer and laugh hysterically reading the new lines. Knowing that later that day I’d be acting those fun scenes out on film was the coolest feeling. Not to mention, he appreciated my take on the character, Tiffany, so much he kept adding lines and scenes for me.

CP: You have been acting for many years, and covered a variety of shows from “Power Rangers” to “Legally Blondes.” How do you feel you have grown through all these experiences?

BC: As an actress I have the unique opportunity of learning and growing through many different pairs of eyes; my own foremost, and also those of every character I portray in a film or show.  It’s quite enlightening to view life from another person’s point of view, and I experience that every time I go to work. It’s the greatest job! For instance, on “The Suite Life” my character Chelsea isn’t very bright, to say the least, and she’s also very rich.  I’ve always viewed her as being a very sweet person.  But, the other day a fan asked me if it was fun playing London’s mean best friend.  I was so surprised! I’d never think of Chelsea as mean because when I’m portraying her I completely immerse myself in her and feel totally justified in all her actions.  When she does say something slightly offensive she’s not trying to be insulting. She’s just stating what she believes is a fact; and because she’s so dull, she doesn’t realize that what she’s saying is kind of demeaning.  Just from that experience alone, it really alerts my consciousness to so much about human nature: innocence, ignorance, how quickly we make judgements about other people, our intrinsic justification of our actions, and how tainted our view of the world can sometimes be based on the way we’re raised.  The fact that every person on this planet thinks differently is what makes our world so interesting and once people accept that fact there will be so much more tolerance and understanding.

CP: Where do you see yourself five years from now?

BC: Five years from now I’ll be turning twenty four.  Wow! That’s so hard to believe! Any-hoo. . .  Career wise, I hope to be working on films that have great stories and  enlightening messages, and I hope to have the means – or power – to play the characters that I love.  Have won my first Oscar.  Have worked on a film that my dad and I wrote together called, “High Heels.”  Have published a book of poetry.  Still be as incredibly close with my family as I am now. Spend a lot of time with positive and interesting friends.  Be surrounded by love in all capacities.  Be taking excellent care of my body.  Have traveled to at least three countries in Europe.  Be happy and healthy.  Have completed my film degree at UCLA and begin work on a Master Degree.  And star in a film with my hero Meryl Streep. . . Am I asking too much?

CP: What advice would you have for aspiring actors?

BC:  To all aspiring actors, first be sure that you absolutely love acting and be aware that many people will try to hinder that love and attempt to discourage you; but do not let them.  Don’t let anyone else’s insecurities and jealousies discourage you.  It’s a long and difficult road to becoming a highly successful actor and it is worth every second.  Also, be prepared for the possibility of a little disease called fame to get into your head and try to change you.  Don’t let it!  Never forget who you are; come up with a mechanism to always check yourself and a system to deflate your head if it ever becomes overly inflated.  Let fame humble you, not turn you into the opinions and judgements everyone else thinks of you.  Honestly, fame can be awesome; but only in the hands of the right people.  Be the right person.  I remember interviewing Henry Winkler(Fonzie), and he told me it’s important for actors not to get “that worm” in their brain.  He was talking about people taking their fame to seriously.

CP: In your opinion, what is one of the most difficult obstacles to have had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome it?

BC: The most difficult obstacle I’ve had to overcome in my career is not taking everything so personally.  Acting is the most personal and at the same time the most impersonal job in the world.  I go to work every day, a camera goes on, and I pour my heart out in front of it.  I have to be very open and sensitive to have the ability to do that.  But, when the camera turns off, I have to look at my job as a business and can’t let every thing said about me to be taken to personally, good or bad! Especially in the internet age; most people are positive, but sometimes people post mean things about actors that don’t make any sense.  For example, I recently went to a charity event to help raise awareness for the treatment of children’s cancer.  Pictures were posted on a popular Internet site. One poster, instead of seeing the meaning in the event just criticized my hair style and the way I looked.  That’s sad, but I realize being in the public eye it will happen, and I can’t take it seriously.   I’ve also learned that when I get so close to booking a film or a show and then don’t get it, it’s really nothing personal.  There are so many factors that go into a casting decision and talent isn’t always the prime factor.  That’s one important obstacle that I’m proud to say I’ve mostly overcome.

CP:  What is one of the favorite aspects of your job?

BC: My absolute favorite thing about my job is when I get the script of a project I’m working on for the first time.  The feeling when I first read my lines and then my character just clicks and totally resonates in me is the coolest feeling!  Then to create the character and come up with unique ways to play her is incredibly fun.  Finally, to be on the set with the director and other actors and, at last, have all my work and creativity come to fruition is very rewarding and very fun.  I have to be honest!  My other favorite thing is the early morning omelette when I’m shooting a film.  I will actually get to a set two hours early just to order my favorite cheddar cheese, sausage & tomato omelette. The cooks are great!

CP: Please give me an anecdote from filming “Legally Blondes” of something that inspired/changed you in your way of thinking.

BC: I really think that the project as a whole improved my acting.  Filming “Legally Blondes” really gave me the freedom to play with and have fun with my character.  A lot of that freedom came from the director Savage Steve Holland who totally trusted me with my character, Tiffany, and let me run with my  ideas.  Savage and I would always be thinking of ways to make Tiffany funnier.  The scene when I’m wearing the neck brace in the hallway was especially fun.  When I first read that scene I had no idea how to play it, especially because my character does finger quotes in the air, which I think can come across as annoying.  So, I juggled ideas around in my head a came up with the idea of doing overly exaggerated air quotes whenever I said the word “study.”  According to the script I’m only supposed to do the air quotes once, but I decided it would be more comical to repeat them.  When time came to do the scene, it made the producers and executives laugh hysterically!  I even screwed up a good six or seven takes by cracking myself up.  Then my sidekick “Ashley” did air quotes at the same time which made it even funnier!  I was just so relaxed filming the movie, took chances, and trusted myself.  That enabled me to come up with some pretty creative ideas!

Legally Blondes – An Interview With Becky and Milly Rosso

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Calling all “Legally Blonde” fans, fans of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” or even fans of fun, family films that keep you laughing! Now is the time to enjoy the third film in the “Legally Blonde” franchise, entitled “Legally Blondes.” The beauty of this title is that it’s enjoyable enough to entertain teens and adults, but also appeals to younger children. The lack of no offensive content makes it a perfect full-family film.In “Legally Blondes,” when Elle Woods’ young, blonde cousins Annie and Izzy (Milly and Becky Rosso) moved from England to California, they thought their pink clothes, small dogs and street smarts would make them instantly fit in and feel at home. However, they find they are miles away from the uniform fashions and money-focused power structure of their new prep school. When the school’s reigning forces turn on the girls and try to frame them for a crime, Izzy and Annie must use their cleverness and charm to clear their names and show the school that in the classroom or the courtroom, they should never underestimate the power of blondes!Becky and Milly, the fabulous main characters in the film, not only have beautiful faces, but also beautiful personalities. They are great role models for young viewers. Here is their take on their acting careers:1. You have been thrown into the world of acting pretty suddenly. What is the most challenging part of acting that you have discovered?Becky – It takes me a while to practice and get into character.Milly – It’s hard for me to act confident on set when I’m feeling a bit insecure.2. How do you prepare for a film in comparison to filming for a television episode?Becky – You have to be ready to portray any part of a script at any sequence since filming is out of order. I loved the live audience on Fridays with Zac and Cody where there was great energy and you could feed off the audience energy.Milly – In television there is a short script, generally one day, so you don’t get as much character development.3. What was your reaction when you were first cast for Legally Blondes?Becky – The “Legally Blonde” movies are some of our favorite films and we are “so thrilled.”Millly – “We are honored to carry on the franchise.”4. What was the most enjoyable part of making the film for you?Becky – It was great playing a character I liked. The script was very funny and clever. Milly – It was fun going to all the different locations – Queen Mary and the mansion and Rodeo Drive.5. How did you grow personally and professionally during the filmmaking process?Becky – It helped make me more confident as I met challenges, and I became more educated on the filming process.Milly – It helped me become less shy around people of all ages. The difficult process helped me learn more about filming.6. What’s the best piece of advice can you offer to aspiring actors?Becky – Be prepared and be professional. Listen to the director and enjoy the experience. Milly – Don’t get discouraged. Set long term goals for yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.7. What new projects are you working on?Becky and Milly – A pilot of Disney channel which hopefully will become a series.8. Where would you like to see yourself ten years from now?Becky – Happy in whatever I do. Hopefully acting. Milly – I hope I’m an actor surrounded by friends and family.9. Is there anything you would like to add?Becky – “Legally Blondes” is a great film for a younger audience. It’s funny and sweet. Milly – We’re from England and so much appreciate the kindness of Americans.Look for this DVD in stores on April 28th!

TV and Videos for Children Under Two May Not Influence Skill Development

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Exposing infants and toddlers to television does not improve their language and visual motor skills at age 3, but does not appear to harm them either. In the study, “Television Viewing in Infancy and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age in a US Cohort,” researchers looked at the amount of time 872 children spent watching television or videos from birth to 2 years of age, then assessed their language and visual motor skills at age 3. When researchers adjusted for other factors that could influence these skills, such as maternal education and breastfeeding, the effect of television appeared neutral.Dr. Marie Evans Schmidt, one of the authors of this study, offers more insight on the study and its results:CP: What was your reasoning behind doing this study?MS: In our prospective longitudinal cohort, we tested whether TV viewing in the first two years of life had any measurable impact on children’s  vocabulary and visual motor skills test scores at age 3.CP: What surprised you the most as you did the study?MS: We were most surprised that we didn’t find any effects of TV viewing in infancy on cognition (once relevant socioeconomic/demographic variables were controlled). We had hypothesized that hours of TV viewed would have negative effects on childhood cognition scores. The cohort was large and statistically we had enough power to detect a relationship if one was present, so, again, I think we were mostly surprised that hours of TV viewed did not have a negative effect on cognitive test scores.CP: Surprisingly (to me), it seemed as if children viewing Sesame Streetwere at a bit of a disadvantage over those who watched programs likeArthur, which is actually for older children, and yet studies haveshown that children who watch Sesame Street have improved overallscores in longitudinal studies. What is your take on this?MS: We didn’t look at content in this study. I think you might be referring to another study, most likely Linebarger and Walker (2005) . They found the results you describe. Linebarger and Walker (2005) have speculated that the reason they found positive effects on language from Arthur but not from Sesame Street is because Arthur follows a linear narrative whereas at that time Sesame Street did not (they now incorporate more narrative content in Sesame Street). The longitudinal study you are referring to, I think, is one by Dan Anderson et al (2001), which showed that Sesame Street viewing in preschool (age 3 +) was related to higher high school grades; the Linebarger study was looking at Sesame Street viewing between ages 6 and 30 months, I believe, so different age groups are represented in the two studies. I suspect that is why you find the difference.CP: When parents go to show media to their babies, are there certaintypes and styles you can recommend (please feel free to pull inexperience other than this report).MS: I don’t recommend that parents show media to their babies, especially the little ones. No studies have found positive effects of baby videos, and some studies have found negative effects, so I see no benefit, to the child, of watching those videos. Once children reach the second half of infancy, say 15 months to 2 or so, I think parents can try some educational TV, such as Elmo’s World, or Barney (curriculum based shows designed for toddlers). However, I would keep TV to a minimum at this age, since research overall has yet to find clear benefits. Once children reach preschool age (3+), I recommend age appropriate educational, curriculum based programming, with no commercials, if possible. These days, there are a lot of great educational programs for children. And, of course, I always recommend books!In general, I recommend parents choose content very carefully, as most research suggests what children watch is more important than how much. For babies, I would limit TV as much as possible, as there are no clear benefits to TV viewing in infancy. For older children, I recommend limiting the amount to no more than 10-11 hours a week, as high levels of TV viewing have been associated with obesity and sleep disturbances. I also recommend keeping the TV off in the home when no one is watching and limiting children’s exposure to adult TV as much as possible. Other research I have done, with Dan Anderson, suggests that TV in the background may disrupt children’s focused attention during toy play.

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