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Register Now for KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Online Boot Camps in June, July and August

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

If you’re passionate about movies and see yourself in front of the camera as an entertainment reporter or actor, look no further, this is the camp for you!  This summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic our KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Boot Camps are all online. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can attend. You don’t have to live in the city where the camp meets or have to travel.

We have three camps meeting for one week each in June, July and August. Each camp meets for 2 hours a day, Monday through Friday. During the camp you will be coached by seasoned professionals and learn to…

  • Critique and write film reviews
  • Learn how to videotape your reviews
  • Interview talent on Zoom and in person
  • Promote your YouTube videos

After completing this camp, you’ll be invited to join our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics national team of reporters where you get to watch and review films before they are released, interview celebrities live and online, attend behind-the-scenes events for new film and digital releases.

Sound like what you’re looking for! Go here to register or for additional information. 


Camp dates and times
June 22 – 26
July 13 – 17
August 10 – 14
Classes meet 12:00 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time
9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Pacific Time

Class fee is $110.
Register at https://forms.gle/zaP1SZ6Q9TUe4e459

What do you do at camp?

  • Develop vocabulary and criteria to critique and write reviews.
  • Watch, analyze and discuss films.
  • Examine behind-the-scenes contributors (directors to editors).
  • Review film in written and video format daily.
  • Learn how to create videotaped reviews.
  • Learn how to record and edit your own reviews in front of a green screen.
  • Learn and practice how to interview celebrities online or in person.
  • Meet working actors, writers, producers, film critics and other entertainment professionals.
  • Work collaboratively with your team members.
  • Learn about filmmaking programs that are available to you.
  • Share your knowledge with parents, peers and the public.

Check out one of our previous camps.

Contact us for more information. https://www.kidsfirst.org

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Michael McCormick * Puppeteer Known for Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Return of the Jedi

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

We recently sat down with Master Puppeteer Michael McCormick to learn more about his work on Jim Henson’s films and more.

Michael McCormick has broad experience with design and fabrication in FX makeup, creatures, puppets and special props. Since 1960, he has been a professional sculptor and puppeteer and a member of both SAG and IATSE.

McCormick was performing his Punch and Judy puppet show on the Santa Fe Plaza in 1980 when Roger Miller (country music legend) stopped to chat. “He told me, ‘You ever shown your stuff to Jim Henson?’ ” McCormick said. “I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘You want to?’ The New Mexico native packed his puppets and flew to London. “Jim Henson hired me, because I loved my own work,” he said. Henson hired him to work on a new project called The Dark Crystal. Though it wasn’t a huge hit at the time, it has become one of the biggest hits of children’s cinema from the 1980s. McCormick was the head of the unit that created the puppets that were the bad guys, the evil Skeksis. From there, he went on to work on classics such as Labyrinth, created puppets for Return of the Jed and did special effects for other TV shows and movies. “But it was “Return of the Jedi” that stands out, he said. He created Salacious Crumb, Jabba The Hutt’s jester, for the film.

Though he retired in Ireland – or tried to – he returned to the States, taught at New Mexico State University and gives an occasional lecture. McCormick has always been a studio artist and shows his work in the United States and Europe. McCormick credits his parents for his love of the absurd and puppetry. His father came to Los Alamos in the 1940s to work on the Manhattan Project, and he encouraged McCormick to experiment and build things.

Interview by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic

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Maureen Fan, CEO/Founder, Baobab Studios – The World’s Leading Indie Interactive Narrative Animation Studio

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Today, it is our pleasure to introduce you to a female leader in animation film production. Maureen Fan, CEO and co-founder Baobab Studios. Six-time Emmy winning Baobab Studios is the world’s leading independent interactive narrative animation studio. Their mission: Bring out your sense of wonder. Inspire you to dream. Make YOU matter. Baobab has won an Emmy for Best Interactive Media for every qualifying project the studio has created. Named Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Company, Baobab is creatively led by Eric Darnell, the writer and director of Antz and all four Madagascar films. In a first, Hollywood is taking Baobab’s VR IP to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (​Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and The Huntsman) has signed on to adapt ​INVASION! into a traditional feature film.

Check out Gerry O’s interview with Maureen Fan from earlier this month.

Baobab has won six Emmy awards as well as the first-ever Annie award for Best VR Production. Crow: The Legend, both a linear animated short film and an interactive VR experience, won the most awards of any animated program or series, traditional and/or interactive, at the 2019 Emmy Awards. Baobab has released Invasion!, Asteroids!, Jack, Crow: The Legend, and Bonfire to commercial and critical acclaim. Their work (traditional, VR, and AR) has gone viral landing on YouTube’s trending category. 

Their work stars diverse talents such as John Legend, Oprah, Constance Wu, Diego Luna, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Elizabeth Banks, Ethan Hawke, Lupita Nyong’o, and Ali Wong.

Lauded as the “Pixar of Virtual Reality” (CNet, The Wall Street Journal), Baobab’s advisors include Alvy Ray Smith (Pixar co-founder), Glenn Entis (DreamWorks Animation co-founder), legendary Oscar-winning animator Glen Keane, Mireille Soria, Kevin Lin (Twitch co-founder).

Investors include: Comcast Ventures, HTC, Samsung, Shari Redstone and Liz Murdoch’s Advancit/Freelands Cap, The Chernin Group, Horizons Ventures, 20th Century Fox, EMP, Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund (Alibaba), Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Ms. Fan has held leadership roles in film, gaming, and the consumer web. She was most recently vice president of games at Zynga, where she oversaw three game studios, including the FarmVille sequels, which contributed to 40% of the company’s revenues. Previously, she worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3 film and at eBay in product management and UI design. Her most recent collaboration, “The Dam Keeper,” directed by Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, was nominated for the 2015 Oscar® Best Animated Short. She received her undergraduate degree in an interdisciplinary program in computer science, art and psychology from Stanford University graduating Phi Beta Kappa and earned her master’s degree in business from Harvard University.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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Industry Veteran Glenn Ross Shares Words of Wisdom and Insight with KIDS FIRST!

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

You are sure to enjoy Gerry O.’s interview with industry veteran Glenn Ross, sharing his wisdom and advice for kids wanting to pursue a career in the entertainment business. Take a look at his video interview below and read here more about him.

A veteran in the global entertainment arena, Glenn Ross has served as General Manager and Executive Vice President of Universal 1440 Entertainment since March 2005.  He oversees the development and production of live-action and animated productions for distribution in all media worldwide, fueling Universal’s aggressive strategy of capitalizing on the power of its high-profile properties and franchises to create top-quality filmed entertainment content.

Mr. Ross and his team have produced movies based on the wildly successful Bring It On film franchise. Additionally, he was responsible for the Tony Award-nominated Broadway Musical, Bring It On: The Musical.  Mr. Ross oversaw the fall 2006 production of the Daytime Emmy Award®-winning Curious George series,the #1 animated television pre-school program on PBS Kids.     

Universal 1440 Entertainment has also produced sequels to The Land Before Time, American Pie Presents, Death Race, Scorpion King, Beethoven, The Little Rascals, Veggie Tales, Dragonheart, The Little Engine That Could and the latest installment in the Chucky franchise.

Mr. Ross came to Universal from Lionsgate Family Home Entertainment where he served as Executive Vice President and was responsible for the acquisition, production, marketing and day-to-day activities for the company’s family entertainment projects. Concurrently, as EVP of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Mr. Ross oversaw all the marketing efforts for the division.  He joined the company in January 1998 when it was formerly known as Artisan Home Entertainment.

Prior to his tenure at Lionsgate, Mr. Ross worked as Senior Vice President of Hallmark Home Entertainment where he was responsible for the acquisition, marketing and sales for a broad range of films.  Before Hallmark, Mr. Ross held the position of Senior Vice President of Republic Pictures, overseeing worldwide theatrical, home video and television marketing. Previously, he served as Vice President of Marketing at RCA/Columbia Home Video.  Mr. Ross began his career as Director of Creative Services for RSO (The Robert Stigwood Organization) Records. He holds a BS from the Philadelphia College of Art, and is a Trustee of the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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Introducing industry leader, Geneva Wasserman, SVP, Condé Nast Entertainment

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Today in our third installment of our CSuite Interviews, we’d like to introduce you to Geneva Wasserman, SVP Motion Pictures, Condé Nast Entertainment.

Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, previously was co-founder and executive producer of Project Z Entertainment where she is credited for producing Door Man and Godfrey.  While there, Wasserman and Tim Marlowe struck a deal with Microsoft to develop and implement proprietary artificial intelligence software tools to better predict market reaction to entertainment and advertising content.

Previously, Wasserman was president of Whitener Entertainment Group, a film/TV production house focused on family and animation, and president of WV Enterprises, Wilmer Valderrama’s film and television production company, where she produced Seoul Searching and Gnome Alone. She also co-founded publishing and advertising platforms True360VR and 360 AdSpots.

Wasserman started her career as an attorney with law firm Gray Cary. She has worked as an entertainment licensing attorney and in business development, finance and production roles on projects at Disney, Lionsgate, Oxygen, DreamWorks Animation, Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox and Discovery, among others.

Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE) is an award-winning next generation studio and distribution network with entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, virtual reality and OTT channels. CNE develops, produces and distributes video content across 17 brands, including Bon Appétit, Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired. We can’t wait to see what Ms. Wasserman brings to life at CNE.

Interview by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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