What Our Critics and Their Parents Say About Their Experience as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Clayton PickarClayton P.

KIDS FIRST! has given my son, Clayton, the poise and confidence to write and present his ideas in a public forum.  In terms of writing, he now has the facility to write a film review that is cohesive, well thought out and well researched in terms of its pedigree.  In terms of video, he now knows how to create a small film, edit it and use a microphone as well.  He is also able to present himself on camera with poise and confidence. KIDS FIRST! has been a wonderful experience for our son.  I can't thank Ranny and her team enough! Mindy P., Parent

Alejandra GAlejandra G.

I wanted to tell you an anecdote of my first day of school this past Monday in my TV production class. In the first class, my teacher was telling his opinions about each of the members of the program. When he talked about me, he mentioned that he was so proud and impressed about all the work I was doing with KIDS FIRST! He talked about all the movie reviews I've done in both languages (Spanish and English), the important interviews I was able to do like the one with Diego Luna and the cast of Annabelle Hooper, all the projects I've made and all the events I've been able to attend through KIDS FIRST!

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the opportunities you've given me and for trusting in my abilities to carry out a good job. I'm very happy and proud to be a member of KIDS FIRST! Film Critics because, even though this requires a lot of time and sacrifice, I do it with passion and with enjoyment because my dream is to work in this industry in the future. I am learning so much with this experience that it helps me get skills for what I want to become in the future. I'm excited for all the opportunities that will come towards me this year!

Thank you very much once again, much love! Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Miami, FL

Abigail Zoe LAbigail Zoe L. (age 8)

I wanted to give KIDS FIRST! a shout out since it’s been two years now that our daughter, Abigail Zoe Lewis has been with KIDS FIRST! Film Critics. I remember Abigail first meeting with you and how warm, excited and supportive you were to have Abigail as a young Film Critic at 8-years-old. I remember the 6 week boot camp online training course and how you personally helped each of the kids in our group have a voice, feel confident and feel that their voice mattered.

Two years later, we see tremendous growth in Abigail’s reporting, particularly in being more articulate and poised. For Abigail, as a professional actress, this is something that we had sincerely hoped for. KIDS FIRST! has been instrumental in helping Abigail achieve these goals in addition to becoming a seasoned youth reporter and film critic.

Some of the highlights – which are many - include amazing opportunities like interviewing numerous exceptionally talented people such as Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Kevin Hart, Zoey Duschenel, Weird Al Yankovic, Bella Thorne and many other major and top entertainment talents. Traveling to British Columbia, Canada this year to go behind the scenes for the up and coming movie, Pup Star: Better 2Gether was AWESOME! Experiences like attending and at times walking red carpets (i.e., Zootopia, Shrek 3, Captain Underpants) and press junkets (Ratchet & Clank) have been exciting and often, being the only kid reporter among top reporters is pretty cool! Reviewing, reporting and being invited on the set of educational shows such as Mack & Moxy and other important productions have made Abigail feel she can and has contributed educationally and positively to this world.

Opportunities to be on the radio has helped Abigail also think, as an interviewee, quickly on her feet because, you never know what question may be coming next! We also think being on social media with video reviews featured on KIDS FIRST!’s YouTube channel that has thousands of followers offers Abigail and other kids a jump start and perhaps an edge in their future endeavors.

We are thrilled and honored that you have made possible Abigail’s and your other kids’ reviews to be featured and published in the Huntington Post. In fact, the reason Abigail was on Hallmark’s Home & Family Show was specifically because of her reporting work for KIDS FIRST! It was great to see and hear Abigail not only be interviewed on the show and, in addition to that, after the taping of the show she personally had a 1:1 private interview with the guest host and reporter, Debbie Matenapoulus.

As any parent, we love when our kids are happy and feel good with who they are. KIDS FIRST! has been like an extended family and has given Abigail something very special personally and professionally in her heart and helped her developed her skills.

Thank you Ranny for all you do and for giving kids a voice in this world where kids’ voices matter and can make a difference! Sincerely,

David L., parent Abigail Zoe L., Los Angeles, CA  

Gerry OGerry O. (age 13)

Gerry began submitting his student films to KIDS FIRST! when he was 9 and joined the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics team three years ago. Last spring, Gerry was invited to present some of his film ideas to Morgan Freeman’s production team after interviewing Freeman on the red carpet three times in six week’s time. Gerry’s feature length film on bullying has been picked up for distribution thanks to his KIDS FIRST! connections. He has completed over 100 reviews and is now working on reaching 200! Gerry’s mom recognized that the program’s benefits go beyond film critiquing. “Your program not only teaches kids how to be better communicators, more pleasant company and knowledgeable movie gurus, it gives them so much more. These kids will be able to socialize and speak properly, write great essays, participate intelligently in debates and become confident leaders.” Gerry is currently enrolled in a production workshop at YouTube Space LA, representing KIDS FIRST! as one of only 10 channels accepted. Kate O., mother of Gerry O., Los Angeles, CA

Keefer BKeefer B.

KIDS FIRST! invited Keefer to attend a major red carpet and movie event. For four years Keefer would have jumped in the van, questions in hand, dressed in his tux and would represent KIDS FIRST! This time it was different.  Keefer started High School at the Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, California. A charter, college prep, arts academy. Accepted into the Film and TV academy, most afternoons he performs as the director, actor, editor, writer, cameraman or any other position required. On the date of the event Keefer was set to be the producer for a full length television production with six segments, commercials and intros.

Before KIDS FIRST! Keefer was a sweet, little boy with a lot of talent, a speech impediment and an insatiable desire to work in the entertainment field. Due to the training, encouragement and unbelievable opportunities Keefer’s been allotted he’s become a humble young man with an amazing work ethic, advanced skills in the movie industry and a mental maturity beyond his years.

After thanking KIDS FIRST! for the offer, Keefer sat me down and said, “Everything I’ve learned at KIDS FIRST! has brought me to what I’m doing right now. I couldn’t be running an entire show production in front and behind the camera, if I wasn’t in KIDS FIRST!. I truly miss the red carpets, the interviews and the videos for KIDS FIRST!, but I’m learning so much in school. I feel blessed by both,” The opportunity to work with KIDS FIRST! has broadened my understanding of my son. I know that he will find his way in the world. I can’t say that he wouldn’t have done just fine without KIDS FIRST!, but life certainly wouldn’t have been as exciting, awe-filling and memorable without KIDS FIRST! along for the journey.

Candace C, Mother of Keefer B., Los Angeles, CA

Raven DRaven D. (age 14)

It is with great pleasure that I recommend KIDS FIRST!. I have been involved with KIDS FIRST! for 1 ½ years as a parent of a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic who attended the 2011 KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp in addition to many other enriching experiences. This organization has consistently displayed a high level of quality and genuine commitment when it comes to children, children's media and education/outreach. KIDS FIRST! is definitely a leader in this area and the dedication to what is best for children is ever present in all the work they do. The guidance and direction that is offered is unquestionably valuable. The resources, direct coaching and training provided support and encourage written and verbal expression of thought for children. In addition, KIDS FIRST! is an amazing partner with parents and other organizations and is active in striving for connections and outreach for their positive message. My daughter’s experience with KIDS FIRST! has opened many doors for her within her own person, allowing her to strive for excellence in her written and oral presentations and to always ask the deeper questions about messages and meanings in media directed to children. Her confidence in public speaking has greatly increased as well as her feelings of value and worth of her own opinions and thoughts. Her involvement with KIDS FIRST! has really contributed to her understanding that she is important as a person and that her thoughts and opinions matter to the community as a whole, within the organization, within her school and within her role as an active contributing member of society. KIDS FIRST! would be an asset to any organization and I am happy to give my wholehearted endorsement. Sincerely, Sarah Jane Geraldi, parent of Raven D., Boulder, CO

Brianna BBrianna Hope B. (Age 12)

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 B., parents of Brianna Hope B., Orlando, FL

Morgan B.Morgan B. (age7)

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 B., Los Angeles

CamilleCamille B.

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!

Chriss O., parent of Camille B., Santa Fe NM

Cheyenne NguyenCheyenne N.

My daughter joined the Film Critics in 2012. 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 N. parent of Cheyenne Nguyen, Los Angeles, CA

Julianna N.

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 N. parents of Julianna Noone, Westchester, NY



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