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Archive for June, 2011

Disney Studios Opens to KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

KF_FilmCritics_218x225.jpgFor kids who love movies, what better place to spend their week than at KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp at the world-famous Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif! This is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that 15 lucky kids will enjoy next month, July 11-15, as KIDS FIRST! presents its exciting Film Critics Boot Camp program with coordinated activities and screenings provided by the Disney Studios.

Watching movies, of course, is one of kids’ favorite activities. KIDS FIRST! has developed valuable learning to help them understand why and how movies create the impressions they do. Thanks to Disney’s participation this summer, Boot Camp attendees will also get to see screenings of the latest Disney films, learning about upcoming 3-D technology and – probably most exciting of all – interview some of the talented folks from the studio’s films.

With visual media as pervasive as it is in today’s world, understanding how movies are put together gives kids valuable tools that go far beyond the movie theater. Boot Camp director Janet Davidson brings her experience as a filmmaker to the program that teaches kids aged 8 to 13 how to look critically at individual elements, from directing and acting to cinematography, writing and art direction. Boot Campers will take in new films – such as Winnie the Pooh, The Lion King 3D, PROM, Phineas and Ferb and the all-new Muppets movie – and discuss them, and will also view older films and compare published reviews with their own reactions to the films. They will learn to write film reviews and review films on camera that will be broadcast nationally. Not to mention the Boot Camp bonus of dining at the Disney Commissary every day – with the chance of catching sight of many a movie star!

Limited to 15 kids, ages 8-13, and the slots are almost filled. If you’re interested, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org/become-a-juror/BootCamp.html for more info or to sign up.

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KF Film Critics Laud ‘Field of Vision’ for Key Messages

Monday, June 6th, 2011

FieldOfVision.JPGThe sixth film of Walmart’s Family Movie Night collection, Field of Vision includes a compelling character for both sexes – and a wide range of ages – to identify with. It offers a lot of food for thought and family discussion, as KIDS FIRST! film critics Sam Connan, Raven Sky Devanney and Gabriella Chu describe in their reviews below (and on YouTube). Among the themes they recognize:
Being understanding of other people (Connan explains that, when a new boy at a high school shows skill on the football field, “some people at his new school take that to mean that he is trying to make them look bad, which is not his intention at all”).
Standing up for the truth (Devanny, describing the lead girl character, says, “It is inspiring that she stays with what she knows is true”).
Redemption (Chu says of the high school guidance teacher, “Now that she sees a struggling student, Corey, she won’t let the opportunity pass to help him out” — spurred by regrets about not having supported a student years ago who needed help).

Bullying is another big theme in Field of Vision, a topic that has been getting more and more attention as the incidence of it – among boys and girls even as young as first grade – becomes more pervasive thanks to the Internet.

Field of VisionSamConnan.JPG
Reviewed by Sam Connan (age 13)

I just finished watching Field of Vision, and I thought it was a really good movie. It’s about an orphan boy who is moved around from foster home to foster home and from school to school, and he’s really a smart guy and he’s really good on the football field. However, some people at his new school take that to mean that he is trying to make them look bad, which is not his intention at all.

I think the acting in this was just phenomenal, especially Joe Adler who plays Corey, the orphan boy. I hope I see this guy in another film because he was quite good.

I think that this would be appropriate for ages 10 and up because it probably wouldn’t hold the attention of younger kids. There’s a lot of talking and there aren’t many bright, flashy colors or movement or that kind of thing. It’s more psychological than anything else.

All in all, I’d give this movie a two out of three.

Field of VisionRavenDevanney.JPG
Reviewed by Raven Sky Devanney (age 13)

Field of Vision is a great movie about standing up for the truth and always pushing towards your goals.

This movie is very enjoyable; however, the cinematography and visual aspects aren’t very impressive because the colors are dull and simple.

My favorite character is Lucy, played by Alyssa Shafer, because she does an excellent job and the character is so caring and always backs up her belief of the “magic” camera even when she is doubted. It is inspiring that she stays with what she knows is true.

My favorite scene would have to be when Corey, played by Joseph Adler, and Lucy exchange books for the first time, because her compassion towards him is very sweet. The scene is also important because Lucy becomes very involved in Corey’s life later in the film.

This movie is for ages 10 and up because younger children will lose interest in the storyline and plot quickly. Also, younger children may not quite get some of the more mature situations. This is a wonderful family film, as it gives families a chance to talk about the important issue of bullying.

Overall, I give Field of Vision a thumbs up!

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Reviewed by Gabriella Chu (age 14)

Field of Vision tells the story of a new kid named Corey who transfers to a different high school. He joins the football team there and is bullied by a few of the guys, which causes him to not want to play football anymore. However, the captain of the football team, Tyler, still needs Corey because he is a good player. In order to try to get Corey back on the team, he has to confront the bullies who are also his best friends — since 4th grade! Will Corey decide to go back on the team? Find out for yourself.

This movie is very inspiring. Tyler learned that it is important to do the right thing, even when it means sacrificing your relationship with your best friends.

Tyler’s mother, Jody, learned that it is always helpful to support someone in need. Jody is the guidance counselor of the high school, but she used to be a teacher who taught Corey’s mother! She regrets that she did not help his mother, who was pregnant when she was only 18. Now that she sees a struggling student, Corey, she won’t let the opportunity pass to help him out. She learned that it is always nice to give a helping hand. If you’re wondering how Jody helped Tyler out, watch out for the surprise ending of the movie!

I would recommend this movie to kids ages nine and up. It is a great family movie, but younger kids might not understand the complications between the characters and the drama that occurs.  

Photos, top to bottom: Field of Vision poster, Sam Connan, Raven Sky Devanney, Gabriella Chu
Check out the Field of Vision trailer to get a taste of the film yourself.
The film has also received a lot of attention for dealing with cyber bullying. View Miami Dolphins’ Ronnie Brown discussing the issue of kids bullying other kids – and bringing the discussion to a Field of Vision Generation Next event.

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‘Judy Moody’ Star and Author Open Up to KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

Monday, June 6th, 2011

JudyMoodyAndTheNotBummerSummer.jpgAs a KIDS FIRST! film critic, 14-year-old Gabriella Chu had the enviable opportunity to meet in person with Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer star Jordana Beatty and with Judy Moody‘s creator, author Megan McDonald, when they were recently in New York. “I like the character herself because she’s so independent and she’s a leader. She never cares what anyone else thinks,” Beatty told Chu. And that, McDonald told Chu a short time later, is a big part of what she wants Judy Moody’s fans to take away: “I think in real life we have a lot of moods and a lot of disappointments, but Judy always finds a creative way, and I think she always kind of meets those obstacles with a sense of humor. I would like kids to know [to] just keep a sense of humor about it. Everything doesn’t always go perfectly in life, but I think Judy is kind of an inspiration that way.”

Read both interviews in full below, and view them on YouTube.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
Talent interviews by Gabriella Chu

I was so excited to interview Jordana Beatty and Ms. Megan McDonald on the upcoming film: Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer! I left school early on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, to make sure I would be at the press meeting and interview on time. At about 4:00, both stars came in. I was so elated to have the opportunity to chat with them for a bit.

INTERVIEW WITH JORDANA BEATTYJudyMoodyActressJordana_withGabriellaChu_2.JPG
(Photo: Jordana Beatty, left, with Gabriella Chu)

Gabriella Chu: What do you do with other actors when you’re not working on set?
Jordana Beatty: I love to play games with them a lot, like Uno. We also just hang out and chat, and we still do school work together.

Chu: Do you still keep in touch with them?
Beatty: Yeah. I e-mail them because we are obviously in different countries and I can’t wait to see them!

Chu: What is something that you hope kids watching the movie will learn from you?
Beatty: I hope that it will teach them to go out and have the best summer ever. Don’t just stick around at home in front of the computer all day, but actually go out and do something.

Chu: So what does that mean to you? What is a fun summer to you?
Beatty: I think for me it’s doing the things I like best, so: going to the beach a lot, surfing, baking and reading.

Chu: Cool! I know you’re Australian. Have you ever been to New York before?
Beatty: I’ve been before but only for a very short time, so I’m excited to be back.

Chu: Do you like it?
Beatty: I love it!

Chu: Is it very different from Australia?
Beatty: Yes, definitely. The weather is a lot different and there are so many buildings and I definitely don’t know my way around.

Chu: What advice do you have for kids who want to be actors?
Beatty: I think if you don’t get something the first time, then keep trying — because that’s what I did and it worked.

Chu: Do you identify with your character in the movie?
Beatty: Yeah, in a couple of ways. We both have the same color hair, we both have a great imagination, and we both get in lots of moods.

Chu: What do you think is the most fun aspect of playing Judy Moody?
Beatty: That’s a hard one. I like everything. I like the character herself because she’s so independent and she’s a leader. She never cares what anyone else thinks. I like her qualities and her family and I love her bedroom.

Chu: Are you a lot like her in real life?
Beatty: I think so, but we are very different in a few ways as well.

Chu: How?
Beatty: We are both different because we come from very different families and we’re from different sides of the planet. She also has a little brother, of course, and I have no siblings. Just cousins. So that’s a big difference as well. And she has different friends, obviously, and we definitely don’t dress alike. She’s very mismatched.

Chu: If she was a real person, do you think you would be good friends with her?
Beatty: Yes, definitely. She is very fun-loving and she’s great at heart.

Chu: It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Jordana. I like the movie a lot.

This has been an interview by Gabriella Chu for KIDS FIRST! You should go out and see Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer coming out on June 10!

(Photo: Megan McDonald, left, with Gabriella Chu)

Chu: When I was a bit younger, I used to read the Judy Moody series. I’m a fan. What inspired you to write the books?
Megan McDonald: Well, originally, the books were based on my own life a little bit because I have four older sisters. So you can imagine that with lots of siblings a lot of funny things happen. I kind of make the same things happen to Judy and Stink in the books.

Chu: Yesterday, I just watched the movie. I like it a lot! Especially how Judy Moody and Aunt Opal are always coming up with such creative ways to have fun. Was it hard thinking of those ideas?
McDonald: We had tons of ideas and we didn’t get to use them all in the film. But it wasn’t really hard because I think that’s really a part of Judy’s character. She’s so creative, so even if hard or difficult things happen to her, she always finds a creative solution. I also wanted it to be like the simple things that we like to do when we were kids, like having a club with your friends or riding a rollercoaster.

Chu: How involved were you in the creation of the movie?
McDonald: I am so lucky, because a lot of writers don’t have anything to do with [it] when the book goes to film, but I got to co-write the screenplay so I got to dream up what the whole story of the movie would be and write it. The producer also asked me if I would come on set, so I got to go every day when they were filming and be kind of in a consulting role to make sure that everything was very authentic to Judy Moody’s world.

Chu: So do you think the movie is a good interpretation of your books?
McDonald: I think it is, because it really captures Judy Moody’s character. She is a big sister to her little brother Stink, but also her kind of kooky kind of fun-loving aunt comes to stay, and so she has this wonderful new relationship with her aunt, who’s kind of like a grown-up Judy Moody. That’s a little different from the books because she is a new character, but there is so much that’s part of Judy Moody’s world in the movie — like her mood ring, her cat named Mouse, her magic 8 ball, and all of the things that readers will know and love about Judy. The Toad Pee Club with her friends is also in the movie, so I think it sticks very closely to the spirit of Judy Moody and the books.

Chu: What message are you trying to get across in your books?
McDonald: In the books, I don’t really sit down and consciously think of the message. It’s more like I hope kids will be inspired by Judy’s character and the person she is. I think she’s very independent, knows her own mind, has strong opinions and [is] very outspoken. I also hope that from the film, [they get] she wants to have the best summer ever and a lot of things go wrong. I think in real life we have a lot of moods and a lot of disappointments, but Judy always finds a creative way, and I think she always kind of meets those obstacles with a sense of humor. I would like kids to know [to] just keep a sense of humor about it. Everything doesn’t always go perfectly in life, but I think Judy is kind of an inspiration in that way.

Chu: What particular age group do you think the movie is suited for, for most kids?
McDonald: If I had to pick an age group, the core age group is 7- to 10-year-olds. But when we did some preliminary screenings, my niece came, who is three years old, and sat through the whole 90-minute movie and was just wide-eyed on the edge of her seat. So even really little kids enjoy Judy Moody. I’ve also had 18-year-olds who read Judy Moody when they were that age. They take their friends and come, so I think even if you’ve known Judy Moody when you were a kid, you will still enjoy it. I think grown-ups enjoy it because it’s very funny and makes you laugh out loud.

Chu: Do you think we’ll be seeing more of Judy Moody in the future?
McDonald: I certainly hope so. I would love for there to be a sequel some day. I know Jordana would love to play Judy Moody again. We will keep our fingers crossed and hope that will happen someday!

Chu: I hope so too! These are all the questions I have today. Thank you so much for your time Ms. McDonald.

This has been an interview from Gabriella Chu for KIDS FIRST! You should go out and see Judy Moody. It’s coming out in theaters June 10!

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