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PR Tips for Indie Producers

Monday, January 31st, 2011

EvaMarieDamore_clipart.JPGKIDS FIRST! knows there’s a lot of good programming out there for kids and families. We also know it needs an audience to make it worthwhile. Active KIDS FIRST! supporter Eva Marie Damore shares tips with producers working in the independent realm on how to give their product its best shot at getting in front of that audience. Her firm, Damore Public Relations, has handled children’s CDs from Rhythm Child, Anni Zola and The SqueeGees, plus a preschool DVD from Cinema Werx.

How Public Relations is Important to Independent Producers

As an independent producer launching a children’s DVD, CD or book, you hope to sell lots of product so you can become successful and profitable. It can be daunting when you find out there are so many components to factor in prior to launching a product: distribution, sales strategy, packaging, marketing and public relations.

These are difficult economic times and our natural instinct is to cut corners wherever we can. When creating your budget, public relations is an area you don’t want to cut; in fact, you want to make sure you allocate funds so that your product gets the national exposure it deserves. You might have the most innovative CD, DVD or book, but your target audience won’t know about it without a thorough public relations strategy. This can include a multi-media campaign consisting of consumer and parenting magazines, regional and local publications, newspaper, radio, television, news websites and blogs. An active social networking program is also vital to increasing your visibility with potential consumers. A fan page on Facebook and a twitter stream of what’s happening with the new product are great one-on-one connections for consumers.

A solid public relations campaign can increase product sales and visibility, and get your product recognized and in front of your target consumer, who’s already inundated with a myriad of children’s products. Below are four crucial steps independent producers should consider prior to launching a product.

1. Think smart and create a budget and timeline prior to launching your product. Whether you’re self-distributing or have an agency handling your product, you want to make sure you have a budget that covers pre- and post-production costs. Include miscellaneous expenses such as shipping and postage charges or extra packaging supplies. A timeline will remind you of critical deadlines for completed artwork, editing, packaging and distribution of final product.

2. Include marketing and publicity in your budget. A good publicist will discuss short and long-term strategies. Various consumer magazines have long lead editorial deadlines, so contacting the right editor three to six months prior to your product launch is crucial. Also, there are several award competitions your product might qualify for that your publicist can suggest for submission. Your publicist can explore interesting and creative “hooks” that will get your product to stand out from similar, related items. You may have an interesting story as to how your product came about or inspirations that led you to produce the CD or DVD or put fingers to a keyboard to write a book.

3. Have samples of your product available to media prior to its launch. Offer a free download from your upcoming CD so media can sample your musical style, a book galley for reviewers or a promo or trailer of your DVD.

4. Don’t be afraid to contact small, boutique PR firms for representation. Many of the smaller firms are headed by former corporate executives who came from larger PR firms. These executives are professional, media savvy and will give you — the client — the attention you and your product deserve.

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KIDS FIRST! Mid June 2010 News

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – A KIDS FIRST! DVD Review

Celebrate Father’s Day in Santa Fe, New Mexico by watching “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” at Warehouse 21 at 1 p.m.This is one of many exciting activities. Read more about the Father’s Day Fiesta on the Reel Fathers website.

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is a film our family of KIDS FIRST! jurors unanimously voted to keep in our own personal DVD library. It was too good to watch just one time. The ancient gods meet the modern world as Zeus accuses a young demi-god of stealing his lightning bolt. Never knowing he was part god, Poseidon’s son, Percy, is suddenly thrust into another world where he has exceptional powers, and must enter the depths of Hades to prevent a war among the gods. This film was particularly appealing because it clues a viewer in to the inner workings of Greek mythology, yet ties the mythology into the modern world.

Not only is the story and imagery captivating, but it also promotes a strong sense of family bonds in a very realistic way. Percy feels like his father abandoned him, and we see the relationship develop between father and son as the plot-line develops and Percy discovers that his father never abandoned him. Although gods couldn’t be with their children after birth, the father was always in Percy’s mind, helping him when he needed help. There is a poignant scene near the end where father and son come face-to-face and have a realistic confrontation.

The cinematography is so crisp, smooth and detailed that some of the evil characters were almost too scary for young viewers. Hades, in his god-form, is particularly scary, and the snakes that surrounded Medusa’s head seem incredibly lifelike. While this might make the film inappropriate for younger viewers, these aspects are part of what made the film such a success with the teen and tween audience.

The adventurous story shows how a common, somewhat dorky boy, can find something special within himself. It took his dyslexic and ADHD tendencies, and turned them into powerful weapons against the enemy. It’s a good message for viewers, seeing how things that can be perceived as negative attributes can be really be used as strengths. Viewers who watch this film might become inspired to learn more about Greek mythology.

KIDS FIRST! Child Jurors who watched it were recalling stories they knew from childhood even as the credits rolled. They began discussing what it would be like, and how they would act, if they were the young heroes in the film. A 17-year-old girl viewing the film was excited about the reminder of the stories she loved in her youth. The 10- and 13-year-old boys loved the sword fighting and special effects.

A 16-year-old boy summed it up: The visuals were stunning, and the music was fit for the story. I loved the models and animation with the monsters like the Hydra. It actually looked realistic. The only thing I didn’t like about this movie is that the story was extremely predictable (a point the younger children disagreed with). I was able to call out what was going to happen dozens of minutes before it happened, such as needing the 4th pearl to bring his mother and his friends back (the other kids did notice this, also, but it added to the drama for them and made them feel smart). I was also able to predict who would stay in Hades. This movie is great for a wide spectrum of age groups; probably between 7-16. Adults would like it, too.  Overall I think this movie was pretty good. I’d give it an  8/10.

Join the KIDS FIRST! Facebook Page

KIDS FIRST! has a Facebook Fan page where you can share information about children’s media. To participate, go to the KIDS FIRST! Facebook Page and click on “Like.”

Raven Tales Comes to the Smithsonian Channel in July

If you’re ready for a good story, then turn on your television in July of 2010 to catch the KIDS FIRST! Palmer Vision Award-winning title, “Raven Tales,” on The Smithsonian Channel. The animated series,  geared for 5 to 12-year-olds, is drawn from Native American folklore. Chris Keintz, co-author and executive producer of the series is a master of the art of narrative, the technique to telling stories.

The series tells the tales of Raven, the mythical legend supposedly responsible for the creation of the world. The stories highlight the wild and funny adventures of Raven, the most powerful, and one might add, trickiest troublemaker of First Nations Folklore. He is joined by his steadfast brother, Eagle, and the mysterious Frog. The trickster myths of the Northwest Coast form the backbone to “Raven Tales,” the first animated film to be done by an all Canadian aboriginal team.

Chris Kientz (Cherokee) is an American/Canadian animator, television producer and director. His goal of keeping the tales authentic has opened the door to a resurgence of interest in Native American legends. The characters in “Raven Tales” look like those found in Northwest Coast wood carvings, and the stories echo from antiquity. The music is hauntingly beautiful.

Keintz’s work has appeared at the Smithsonian Institution as well as animation festivals worldwide. Currently he continues this work on behalf of the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University where he is the Director of Technology Innovation. He currently serves on the New Mexico Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries to advise on digital media and tax incentives for media production and post production. He is also a consultant on animation for the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University. In addition he is a senior consultant for National Geographic Media Arts.

Look for “Raven Tales” on The Smithsonian Channel in July, and check out the “Raven Tales” website for more details on the series.

Are You a Winner? These DVDs Want to be Yours

Enter our June sweepstakes for a chance to win a free copy of one of the following fantastic KIDS FIRST! titles: Barney or Thomas On-The-Go-Pack, Jim Henson’s Dog City: The Movie, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Hidden Treasures of Wompkee World Plus a Wompkee Finger Puppet and Jackie Chan’s The Spy Next Door.

Congratulations to our May winners: Chris, Melissa, Sheila, Christina, Gilda, Shana, Cindy, Leslie, Michelle, Nancy, MaryGrace, Charice, Peter, Cathy, Marilyn, Denise, Eddy, Elizabeth, Erica, Christina, Dania, Bonnie, James , Valerie and Pat.

Granny Ranny’s Coming Attractions

Toy Story 3 – Funny, Clever and Full of Adventure
After 11 years, the wait is finally over for fans of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story franchise with the release of Toy Story 3.  It… – Read More!

PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest
A panel of America’s foremost children’s authors, illustrators and content experts will serve as final judges in the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, a national-local contest designed to promote the advancement of children’s reading skills through hands-on, active learning … Read More!

Ann’s Marketing Memes

From WorldKids in Mumbai, Three Films to Captivate You
From our wonderful film partners at WorldKids in Mumbai, India come three extraordinary tales of everyday life. I am captivated by the … – Read More!

Lauren’s Critics’ Corner

3 Reasons to Become a KIDS FIRST! Juror Now
1. The training is still FREE
2. Summer’s coming and you’ll need some indoor air-conditioned activities
3. You can provide a fun summer … – Read More!


The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media is a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. The Coalition is a voluntary collaboration comprising more than 10,000 media professionals, lobbyists, policymakers, child advocates, educators, parents and families nationwide. More.

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KIDS FIRST! Titles Win Big at the Talk Story Film Festival

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Kudos to our filmmakers. The Magistical won Best Animated Feature, Broken Hill won Best Foreign Film and Finn on the Fly won Best Family Film. The festival took place at the Mauna Lani Resort, Hawaii. Go to the Big Island Film Festival website to check out the other winners and learn more about the festival.

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Joshua Carlson Wins Orlando Makes me Smile Contest

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Congratulations, Joshua Carlson! This teenager from Minnesota with a passion for independent film recently won a trip to Florida when he won the KIDS FIRST! Orlando Makes me Smile contest.

KIDS FIRST! teamed up with the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. and the Florida Film Festival for this short film competition with a theme focused on fostering family relationships and the joyful experiences that can be found in Orlando. Carlson won a family vacation for four in Orlando, complete with airfare, lodging, theme park tickets and all access filmmaker passes for the Florida Film Festival, April 9 through 18, 2010. In an email interview, Carlson tells us a bit more about his work and travel experience.

CP: When did you realize you had a passion for filmmaking, and what was the spark that triggered it?

JC: When I was 5 I realized I loved movies and everything that went into making them.  When I turned 12 I got my first video camera and I started making video’s with my family and I knew this was my passion. My first was a stop motion animation movie called Justice Heros.

CP: How did your family show support?

JC: They have encouraged me to pursue my dreams by getting training and learning what was really good equipment to use.

CP: When did your family start helping you with the productions, and how did they help?

JC: My sisters have acted in some of my films and they also have written most of the music. My parents have taken me to locations for shoots and helped me get equipment and have let me spend extra time working on my dreams of making films.

CP: How did you hear about the KIDS FIRST! contest, and what  made you decide to submit your work?
JC: My mom saw an article in the St. Paul paper telling about the contest. She asked me if I was interested in submitting something. Both my parents encouraged to give it a shot. I came up with my idea but had to wait until we had a big snow storm to shoot my idea. Right before Christmas we got 14 inches of snow in one snowstorm. I got up the next morning and told my family this is it; if we’re going to do this today is the day. It was still snowing when I shot the scenes.

CP: What does winning Orlando Makes me Smile and being part of the Florida Film Fest mean to you?

JC: This was a great honor to be chosen and win a prize this amazing. I’ve always thought about submitting my work and to be able to experience a large film festival like the Florida film fest so it was humbling experience to go a be a part of it.

CP: What was the best part of the trip for you?

JC: Being able to take my family on this trip with me and especially meeting George Schellenger. It was such an honor and privilege to spend time with him. He gave me so
much great advice, tips and ideas to help further my career.

CP: What are your plans for the future in regards to filmmaking?

JC: I have started my own studio called J.C. Studios, and I am in the process of putting together a good story line and producing a full length feature film. I am hoping to continue schooling after I graduate in media production and filmmaking.

Check out a short interview with Carlson on YouTube.

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Peter Gundling Tours Disney Studios With Ellen Jin

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

This year, seventh grader Peter Gundling won the KIDS FIRST! Best Emerging Youth Filmmaker award. He recently returned to his home after a trip to Disneyland where he had the opportunity to meet Ellen Jin, an art director at Disney. Peter Gundling shared some his experience via email:
CP: Please tell me a bit about what this award meant to you.

PG: It means a lot to me because I have won a few awards at KIDS FIRST! and this one was in a new category for me. I think it means that I am becoming more well-known.

CP: You’ve been making films for quite a while now, and you are still young. Please tell me a bit about your filmmaking journey including key points of growth you find in yourself and your work.
PG: I have been making movies for six years. I tried to make my movies complicated with a good story, but I was just using a digital camera and taking separate pictures of my clay models and toys. I started using a stop-motion program (Boinx iStop Motion) with “Super Kitten and the Power Pets” and it improved my animation. I am now using a newer program (Dragon Stop Motion) which is easier to use. My puppets have gotten more and more complex and I just finished a movie using a silicon rubber puppet that has a metal armature instead of a clay puppet. I think my stories have gotten more complex as well.

CP: How did you feel touring around Disney with Ellen Jin?
PG: I thought it was pretty cool to tour Disney Toon Studio with Ellen Jin. She was real nice, and she showed me things around the studio, work places and behind the scenes stuff. I met some of the artists that worked on the Tinkerbell movie with her. They showed me the software that they use and they had drawing tablets and a screen that doubled as a drawing tablet. She also showed me the Burbank Studios where they have the corporate offices.
CP: What did you learn that you plan to incorporate into your next film?
PG: I learned more about storyboarding and how important it is. I also really liked the drawing tablets and I hope to get one. I knew about many of these things, but it was nice seeing them in person.
CP: What does winning numerous KIDS FIRST! awards mean to you?
PG: Winning KIDS FIRST! awards means that my movies are appreciated. This is very important to me. It’s one thing to have your family members say they like them, but it means lot more when they are liked by others. KIDS FIRST! has always been very nice to me. I even got to meet Art Clokey who made Gumby because of Ranny Levy helping me.
CP: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
PG: I really don’t know what I’ll be doing in five years, I’ll be a senior in high school. Things can change, interests can change and I may be interested in something else by then. But I do love movies, and I hope I’ll be doing something with them.
CP: What advice can you offer student filmmakers?
PG: If you are interested in movies, be good at what you do and like doing it. Just make some movies.
CP: Is there anything you would like to add?
PG: I would like to thank KIDS FIRST! for all their appreciation and support for what I am doing.
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