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What Parents of Our Critics Say

Raven Devanney (2011-13) Parent's Letter
Gerry Orz (2013)

About two years ago, when Gerry started submitting his first film to the festivals, we ran across KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, which prompted Gerry to look closer at the kidsfirst.org website.

In December of last year, Gerry came to us with excitement and told us that KIDS FIRST! is now looking for youth film critics. Gerry has been very busy in December preparing for his first Bullying prevention day and Teen Summits, so his entry into the competition came in very late. It was a very pleasant surprise for him to find out that he made the “cut” and our life has not been the same since then.

Gerry is now 11 and his vocabulary, public speaking ability and interviewing skills have increased drastically. Since he is dreaming about becoming the “next Spielberg”, every film he sees, he analyzes and takes notes for his productions. Even before he joined KIDS FIRST!, Gerry always told us what he would have done differently with the movies he watched and what he really liked and could use to improve his own writing and filming. Our young filmmaker truly blossomed under guidance of KIDS FIRST! and its president, Ranny Levy.

Truly yours,
Kate and Laura, parents of Gerry Orz

Valdi and Stacy Belizaire (2013)

Valdi and Stacy are blessed to be a part of this amazing experience with KIDS FIRST!. The girls have learned so much. They are more confident, their writing skills have improved - even more than before. The thing the girls like about it most it is going to the red carpets and interviewing the cast, watching the movie and coming right home to write about it. They really enjoy being with KIDS FIRST!. I recommended KIDS FIRST! to any parent who wants their kids to become confident and improve their writing skills.

Best Regards,

Agar Belizaire

Brianna Hope Beaton (2012-13)

First and foremost, thank you for giving Brianna the opportunity to participate in such an amazing opportunity.  This experience has definitely helped her with her confidence level and has enhanced her critical thinking skills.

Throughout this whole experience I’ve learned so much about the making of films, reviewing films, social media and Internet Radio.  I now know what a sound bite is, what CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and everything it takes to do a video.  Some of the many hats we wear are, Wardrobe Person, Hair Stylist, Makeup Artist, Taxi Driver, Videographer, Photographer, Consultant, Counselor, Typist, Chaperone and many moreJ We love every bit of it.  For every event Brianna has to do, she is always so excited and wants to do more and more so it makes the event even more special to us. Of course there is lots of practice time, retakes of videos and even some “Mom are we there yet” moments, but it is all well worth it.  As William Penn once said: Patience and Diligence, like Faith, removes mountains!

To see your child on the red carpet / interviewing celebrities and the other industry professionals is just amazing!

Here is something to put this whole experience into perspective:

Starbucks Coffee - $5.00
Dinner with Family @ Joe's Crab Shack - $100.00
Being the parent of a 2012 KIDS FIRST! Film Critic - PRICELE$$

The ENTIRE team at KIDS FIRST! is fantastic!  They are ALL always willing to help, coach and provide their assistance in any way they can.

Thank you for this opportunity, we are forever grateful!

Gregory and Faith Beaton, parents of Brianna Hope Beaton

Morgan Bertsch (2012-13)

Just wanted to let you know what an amazing experience KIDS FIRST! has been for Morgan, as well as, her family. We have been able to watch new movies every month. Morgan found a few favorites that she was watches over and over again. All the movies have been family friendly and we always look forward to getting them in the mail.

It has been a learning experience and taping reviews has had its challenges but the staff at KIDS FIRST! has always been there with helpful suggestions. Every month it has gotten a little easier. Morgan being only seven had her challenges but she loves doing it and has gotten much better at it.

Ranny has been amazing with her wealth of knowledge and is always there to answer questions. We have learned so much from this experience.

Being able to go to the best movies before anyone else, red carpets and celebrity interviews has been a blast.
The radio show once a week has been so much fun for the kids to talk and meet each other from all over the United States. They have also been able to hear the different reviews and opinions of movies they have seen from kids just like them. The guests have all been great and we have learned so much from them. It is wonderful to actually listen to and talk to the people involved in the move making process and hear their amazing passion and inspiration for their projects.

Thank for letting us be a part of this wonderful adventure.

Maria and, Paul, parents of Morgan Bertsch (age 7)

Camille Bajema (2012)

My 10-year-old daughter, Camille, has been reviewing movies for KIDS FIRST! for the past nine months and has really enjoyed it. She and I have learned many great skills. She initially participated in six one-hour online trainings and received feedback on how to improve her reviews and videos. I’ve been Camille’s videographer and coach and help her when she’s having difficultly writing about the plot of a movie. I act as her “agent” ensuring that she meets her deadlines. We were thrilled to be able to attend the US Olympic Gymnastics Trials in San Jose, California and Camille met many of the gymnasts who won gold medals in London! She interviewed Jade Pettyjohn the star of “An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars.” This was a wonderful, empowering experience for her. That weekend was an unforgettable experience for both of us!

Camille’s writing skills have improved and she is more comfortable and articulate in front of the camera while I’ve become more confident behind the camera. We have fun setting up the set together and choosing what she should wear. Camille has also participated on the KIDS FIRST! radio program on the Voice America Kids Network and has become more at ease talking on the radio as well.

Overall, KIDS FIRST! has been a fabulous experience for Camille and myself and I highly recommend this program to other families who have children interested in becoming film critics!

Sincerely, Chriss O’Neill, parent of Camille Bajema
Santa Fe NM

Talia Rashba (2012)

This amazing program is more than we expected. My daughter, who is already a confident individual, has become even more self-assured.

Written and oral communication are two of the best assets one can develop, and being a kid's film critic is a fantastic way to achieve this! With the KIDS FIRST thorough training, she now has real tools to help her formulate her opinions, communicate her thoughts and inspire others to evaluate what they are being offered in the media. Whether she is watching a DVD at home or going to a screening, she is having fun and learning at the same time. Don't hesitate to give it a try....you never know what might happen!

Julie and Marc Rashba, parents of Talia Rashba

Cheyenne Nguyen (2012-13)

My daughter is with the 2012 Film Critics. This experience has been the greatest learning process for both my daughter and I. KIDS FIRST! Team is the best.

KIDS FIRST! provides very detail training for the first 6 weeks via teleconference. Subsequent to training, we continue to receive support and guidance throughout the year. They are the most positive group of professionals that you will ever meet.

The bonus part of being KIDS FIRST! Film Critics are conducting red carpet interviews; attending press junket, watching all the new movie releases before they hit theaters.

My daughter and I truly enjoy and proud to be part of KIDS FIRST! family. This journey has propelled Cheyenne to the next level in communication, reviewing and writing skills.

Anh Nguyen, parent of Cheyenne Nguyen

Julianna Noone (2012-13)

JoAnn and I just wanted to share our thoughts with you all, regarding our experience over the last 9 months with KIDS FIRST! 

The first thing that has shone through from day 1, is KIDS FIRST! is an amazing organization and has given a wonderful opportunity to our daughter, Julianna, as well as all of the other KIDS FIRST! film critics.  Personally, words cannot express our thanks and gratitude to Ranny and the entire KIDS FIRST! family for this experience.  Julianna has received such love and attention from everyone involved and has learned so much.  This is due to the expertise and guidance of Ranny, Lauren, Maria and the entire KIDS FIRST! staff that she has interacted with this year.  She truly has grown as a person and even as a student as well. 

Julianna is very reserved and shy young lady and she would be nervous and hesitant to try new things.  However, through this experience, she has blossomed and has gained such confidence in herself.  She is more outgoing than ever before and that has opened herself up to trying so many more new experiences.  

We will be forever grateful to KIDS FIRST! for this experience for Julianna and our family.  KIDS FIRST! has been one of the best family experiences we have had!  From going to the movies together, to meeting new people, to listening to Voice America, etc.

We have had such a great time doing this all together.  However, let me tell you our favorite thing --- and that has been working on the video reviews together.  Sure, there have been some rough times, when one of us is a little tired or maybe even under the weather, but once the camera starts to roll, we have a blast and at times it's just so hysterical!  We have so many funny bloopers and outtakes and funny moments that we have saved so we can remember our KIDS FIRST! time. 

What great memories we have of this last year.  It’s something we will look back on and truly cherish in the years to come.   To be honest, we were very skeptical when we first started, in terms of, "can Julianna handle this", "will the workload be too much for her, or for us", but this experience has been fantastic not just for Julianna, but our entire family.  We would recommend this experience to everyone and we all will be saddened when our time is over!  We have enjoyed it so much, that our son Nicholas wants to try out this year!!

Wishing all of you the best,
JoAnn and Chris Noone, parents of Julianna Noone

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