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Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

Meet Olivier Lelardoux, Director of Award-Winning Series Gigantosaurus

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Enjoy Zoe C.’s interview with Olivier Lelardoux, Head of Animation / Director at Cyber Group Animation. Lelardoux is the director of the award-winning series Gigantosaurus, Zorro the Chronicles, Zou, Mia, The Legends of Tatonka, Ozieboo Protect the Planet and more.

Cyber Group Studios is a Paris-based developer, producer and distributor of animated television series and movies for children in France and internationally. The company produces 3D and 2D animation products for television series and movies, web series, and news and documentaries. It also licenses its own and third-party characters.

Olivier Lelardoux has 18+ years of experience in the production of youth programs as director, designer and production designer. Since 2005, he has been at Cyber Group Studios, a company he co-founded, co-owns and co- manages as Head of the studio and Director of the company’s series. Olivier also oversees the external studios in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Kuala Lumpur and Tunis that work on Cyber Group Studios series and spearheads the company’s technology group. Series directed by Olivier have won multiple awards and nominations including:

  • Number one series, 2020, CCTV China
  • 2D3D Film festival (Italy) 2020 – Gigantosaurus for Best Voice Acting Award
  • Pulcinella Awards 2019 – Best upper-preschool series, Gigantosaurus”  Season 1
  • Common Sense Media Seal Honoree 2019 – Gigantosaurus
  • Cynopsis Kids Award 2014 – ZOU Winner new Preschool Series
  • Chicago Animation Festival 2012 – ZOU, 1st Prize, Animated Television Program
  • International Emmy Award 2013 nomination, ZOU
  • TVFI Prix Export 2013 Nomination, Gold Panda (China ) 2013 – Tatonka
  • AET Canada 2010 – Manon – Best Canadian TV Animation Series
  • TVFI Prix Export 2008
  • Shanghai TV Festival – Magnolia Award

Previously, Lelardoux worked at Esteban Production (2002 to 2005) as director of TV ads, music videos, motion graphics, TV shows and VFX supervisor. Esteban production is specialized in live action shows for kids. He also worked at BillyWeb (2000 to 2002) as web designer. Olivier was also in charge of creating kids CGI characters for web sites. Olivier’s production expertise spans across production main steps (design, projects development, directing, producing, studio management, budgets and planning). Olivier received a Master degree from the Movie and Animation school ESRA Paris.

Interviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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Meet Natalie Osborne, Chief Strategy Officer, 9 Story Media Group

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Natalie Osborne, Chief Strategy Officer, 9 Story Media Group. Ms. Osborne oversees strategic partnerships, worldwide sales, acquisitions, consumer products and marketing for 9 Story. She has been a significant driver of the company’s dramatic growth over the last decade, helping transform 9 Story into one of the world’s leading independent producers and distributors of children’s content. Upon joining the company in 2006, Natalie founded the global distribution division, building it into a multi-million dollar, internationally recognized enterprise. Her executive producer credits include BBC’s Wibbly Pig, the live-action film Harriet Spy: Blog Wars for Disney, and most recently, the Netflix Original holiday special, Angela’s Christmas.

9 Story Media Group is a leading creator, producer and distributor of award-winning animated and live action content for audiences worldwide, including Arthur, Blue’s Clues & You, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Guess How Much I Love You, The Magic School Bus Rides Again… just to name a few. Ms. Osborne has two Oscar Nominations, 17 Emmy Award wins, eight NAFTA nominations and so much more! Her influence on programming for youth and families is something to celebrate as she is a true leader in her field.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Natalie served as Vice President of Acquisitions for Universal Pictures based in London where she initiated the acquisition and production of new IP. Natalie previously held the position of Vice President of Worldwide Children’s Programming for NBC Universal, where she managed the worldwide sales and marketing rollout of the studio’s children’s programs.

A voting member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Natalie also served on the board of directors of Women in Film and Television’s Toronto Chapter (WIFT-T).  She is a 2016 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner, an honor celebrating fearless female leaders, and a member of the prestigious International Women’s Forum Canada. 

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

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John Lewis – Rest in Peace. A Remarkable Man Who Changed History for Us All!

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Having just learned of the passing of Congressman John Lewis, we send our condolences to his family and many many friends. Using interviews and rare archival footage, John Lewis: Good Trouble chronicles Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957.

In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter’s primarily cinéma verité film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ruby A. comments, “The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delivers an extremely powerful message. It shows the heroism and courageousness of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, as well as many other African American people in this country.” KIDS FIRST! National Board Member Terry S. adds, “This inspirational documentary is a must see.  John Lewis: Good Trouble weaves an important story about an exceptional man, shows us our history from the ‘60s to today, and demonstrates the part John Lewis played, and continues to play, as the fight for racial justice and equality is at a pivotal moment in time with the Black Lives Matter movement.” See their full reviews below as well as our interview with director, Dawn Porter.

John Lewis: Good Trouble
By Ruby A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble delivers an extremely powerful message. It shows the heroism and courageousness of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, as well as many other African American people in this country. Subjects such as civil rights and equality for all races should be better discussed in this nation and, truly, always should have been, and now is the time to put these long-existing issues with racism to rest. John Lewis: Good Trouble encapsulated this moving lesson by telling the Congressman’s story and what motivated him to take action.

John Lewis: Good Trouble is about the experiences he had and changes that occurred in his life. It discusses the racial segregation that existed for a very long time and how so many people spoke out against it. The film demonstrates how people aimed — and still are aiming  — to resolve racial issues in America. Civil rights are an essential part of every government, and this documentary shows these racial inequalities through the life and actions of John Lewis. It communicates these important actions across the timeline of his life, interspersed with many interviews with people that know the Congressman—this gives the perspective of many individuals and shows how he has impacted them.

My favorite part of John Lewis: Good Trouble also happens to be the camerawork. Despite the fact that there is constant movement, the shots remain smooth and crisp in quality. Not all documentaries have the greatest camera operation, so it is nice to see the effort made to bring quality to the viewer’s eyes. It makes watching the film more enjoyable for anyone.

The message of this documentary is that speaking up about issues yet to be solved can make others feel driven to help make a change. John Lewis: Good Trouble is definitely successful in portraying this message. Positive social behavior is promoted, and people treat each other appropriately. There isn’t any bad language, either. Police brutality is discussed, and some footage of it shown, but nothing risky that children may imitate.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It will be released on July 3, 2020. 

John Lewis: Good Trouble
By Terry S., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

There is an old African proverb: “When you pray, you move your feet.”  The proverb resonates powerfully in this quote from John Lewis’ memoir, Walking in the Wind: “As a nation if we care for the beloved community, we must move our feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill.  In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house, the American house, the American family.”

John Lewis is a powerful writer. I read  Walking in the Wind several years ago, and it had a  powerful impact on me.  John Lewis: Good Trouble, the documentary, makes that same powerful impact: it brings his story to life!  As in his memoir, the film reveals the man behind the legend.  

I was moved to tears by the footage from the 1960s.  I was beginning my teenage years back in 1963. Television was still a young medium, and it showed us all that was going on in the world daily.  I was learning about the world and its ways in the ‘60s—the injustices, the fight for dignity, freedom, equality and decency.  These were my middle school years, my high school years, formative years brought back to life as I watched this film.

History repeats itself until we learn.  John Lewis: Good Trouble follows John Lewis throughout his young life in Alabama, working on his parent’s farm, feeding chickens, picking cotton.  Mr. Lewis’ narration of waking up early, hiding under the porch to wait for the school bus, running onto the bus to get to school to his wonderful teachers where he says he read everything, is a powerful visual image.  I love what one of his sisters says about John wearing a tie and carrying the Bible to school every day.  John was a serious student.  He wanted more in his life.  Clearly, he wanted to make a difference in our country for racial justice for African American people. His tireless work and dedication started as a college student. From SNCC leader to Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis fought the good fight for voter’s rights, for civil rights, for the right to eat at the same restaurant as white people, for integration, not segregation.  His marches, his belief in nonviolence and commitment to the cause have continued for 65 years.

One story that Henry Gates Jr. tells about John Lewis’ great-great grandfather getting his voting card back in the 1800s has a powerful twist. So many stories, so much history where he worked so hard from the time of Dr. Martin Luther King to President Barack Obama to now!


This inspirational documentary is a must see.  John Lewis: Good Trouble weaves an important story about an exceptional man, shows us our history from the ‘60s to today, and demonstrates the part John Lewis played, and continues to play, as the fight for racial justice and equality is at a pivotal moment in time with the Black Lives Matter movement.

I give John Lewis: Good Trouble 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it for 9 to 18 year olds to learn about an effective leader and his plight –and to understand even further the times we are currently living through. I also recommend it to adults, to remember all that has transpired through the years, to reflect and act on how we can all move forward once and for all to make the change that is way long overdue.  It will be released July 3, 2020 on Apple TV.

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Jared Sandrew – Stereo Effects Supervisor on the last 7 Disney Feature Films

Friday, July 10th, 2020

This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Sandrew, Stereoscopic Supervisor for The Walt Disney Studios. Jared was the Stereo/Visual Effects Supervisor on Disney’s last seven feature films including Aladdin, Dumbo, Mulan, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Nutcracker & the Four Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and The Finest Hours. Jared designed and supervised the 3D conversion on the films.

Jared also supervised the creative conversion of The Walk and  Man of Steel  while working at Legend3D with his dad, Barry Sandrew who we interviewed recently. Jared holds 13 patents ranging from 3D Model Multi-Review System to Method for creating 3D virtual reality from 2D images. He truly is a super star in visual effects and our hosts, Tiana S. and Heather S. walked away from this interview filled with new knowledge about how digital imaging is done. A big thank you to Jared for talking with us in terms that kids and non-techies can understand.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Heather S. and Tiana S., ages 13 and 9

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Lizzie Waterworth-Santo, Voice Actor Extraordinaire

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Enjoy our discussion with Lizzie Waterworth-Santo, a BAFTA nominated voice actor, playing characters in over 1,000 cartoon episodes in shows aired across the globe and, most recently, starring in the British stop-motion feature film Strike as Mungo, the mole with a goal.

Lizzie studied “English, Language & Communication” at King’s College, London and got her first break into the animation industry after landing two lead roles in the Nickelodeon cartoon “Four Eyes.” With 17 years experience voicing movies, cartoons, games and independent projects, Lizzie specializes in voicing authentic sounding children. Her distinct “boy’s voice” landed her the title role of “Horrid Henry” in the five-time BAFTA nominated British animation. Now in its fifth season and 250 episodes, “Horrid Henry” is the most popular show on the Nicktoons and Nickelodeon UK channels, and was the first children’s show to be acquired by Netflix for the UK.  Other shows Lizzie has lent voices to include “Bob the Builder,” Cbeebies “Alphablocks,” “The Backyardigans” (UK) and “Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps.”

With a personal BAFTA nomination in 2019 for Best Performer, and a passion for language and the voiceover industry, Lizzie speaks at numerous events about her  career, offering advice and techniques. She’s currently working with BAFTA Kids alongside children’s mental health charity Place2Be, encouraging children to develop their confidence, have fun with their voice, whilst they learn a new skill. She now lives near London with her husband and two children.

Interviewed by Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

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