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Why the Famous Do Children's Films by Christine L. Pollock



Fame sells. It's a fact that can't be disputed. But when the famous are in demand for big budget films, how do you get them interested in independent film? What do they look for in film for their family, and what does it take to have a celebrity become interested in your script? According to Daniel Roebuck (The Fugitive, Agent Cody Banks, Malcolm in the Middle, Who Stole Santa's Sack and more) and Jim Hanks (Polar Express, Purgatory House, Toy Story Racer, and much more), it might be easier than you think.

Both actors agree the magic is in the script. According to Hanks, "A good story is going to attract talent. If you get the right people interested in the project, producers are more likely to invest in a higher budget." When it comes to film for children, both Hanks and Roebuck find that a good moral message entices them. Hanks was attracted to Purgatory House because he liked what he read. He was intrigued by the story and the fact it was written by a 14-year-old girl. As Hanks humorously puts it, "I'm always attracted to the story first and the fact that I've been hired second." Hanks is also a firm believer that a children's film must also entertain the parents. "Otherwise, who's going to take the kids to the theater?" He asks.

Roebuck's inspiration for acting in children's film comes from his own two children, Buster (8) and Grace (10). He is dismayed with the messages promoted by most visual media; messages that promote sexuality, violence, and an idea that "self preservation is more important than self-sacrifice." Roebuck enjoys his job as an actor because he can do something to provide quality media for the children. Currently, he is working with Jay Leno and Andy Griffith as voices for a film which will debut later this year. Tentatively titled Who Stole Santa's Sack, this animated film defies modern trends by promoting a message of taking care of each other against the odds. The musical animated tale follows the exciting journey of a young orphan girl, Sophiana, and her unlikely band of adventurers as they help recover Santa's magical sack. Throughout her pursuit for the elusive sack, Sophiana teams up with a feisty elf, an ambitious young reindeer, and a fox and polar bear duo. In the tradition of The Wizard of Oz, the young heroine and her allies each discover their potential for compassion, loyalty and the importance of never losing hope. Look for this film in theaters during the 2006 holiday season.

Just as we at KIDS FIRST!® work with producers to provide high quality film for children, Roebuck encourages viewers and producers to go a step further and create a demand for these films. As he puts it, "If people don't support film with traditional values, they could easily become obsolete." Hanks, the father of a 15-year-old son, summarizes his thoughts with the statement that he appreciates organizations such as KIDS FIRST!®, because, "It's certainly nice to have folks like yourself holding the industry accountable for producing material suitable for kids."


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