Category Archives: Press Conferences

Fanlala Talks With ‘INTO THE WOODS’ Cast!

10881498_740515976032465_1283154419496644144_nIt is quite a treat to watch our favorite fairytale characters interacting – from Little Red Riding Hood to Cinderella to Rapunzel.

Combine that aspect with a fantastic soundtrack, stunning visuals, humor and life lessons, you get Into The Woods; Disney’s screen-stealer that reexamines the typical “Happily Ever After” tale.

With metaphors abound in the woods, the cast members were drawn to the project because of the messages incorporated in the Steven Sondheim musical. Tracey Ullman, who plays Jack’s mother, spoke about her initial connection with the story.

Tracey+Ullman+Woods+Premieres+NYC+wiqRTU_mfyLl“My son was in [the production] when he was in middle school and I watched it for ten nights. The complexity of the music and the phrasing—it was like Shakespeare! It really got to me on so many levels in particular the production of ‘No One Is Alone.’ I just went home filled with all these emotions.”

Director Rob Marshall agreed by explaining that Into The Woods asks children to really think when watching the film, simply because of the nature of the themes layered throughout. Today’s world has become much more fragile, and the movie is geared to console this generation.

“I feel like the ultimate message of this piece lives in the song ‘No One Is Alone,’ where children understand when they’re dealing with something scary—a loss of some kind, devastation or hardship—that they’re not alone in this world. There’s a great sense of comfort and hope… It’s about community.”

10863634_740443352706394_1749314447_nTo Marshall, Into The Woods has it all—the heart, the spirit, the humor, as well as the deeper subtext and morals sprinkled throughout.

“That’s why I love the great classic films like The Wizard of Oz. It’s not just fun, but there’s messages about life.”

Even though Into The Woods is composed of classic fairytale characters crossing paths, even in this world of heightened reality, the film still manages to strike a cord with audiences in day-to-day life. Emily Blunt, who plays the Baker’s Wife, appreciated the depth of the movie.

“This film is less about fantasy, more so about reality.”

We cannot wait to get swept away in the retold fairytale, what about you? Let us know in the comments below which character you are most excited for and if you will be heading to the theaters this Christmas.

First Published @


THE MAZE RUNNER Cast Gives Us Behind the Scenes Scoop!


Dylan O’Brien and Cassandra Hsiao

With a movie surrounding the premise of a maze plagued by monsters called Grievers, there’s sure to be plenty behind-the-scenes footage of complex action-stunt sets. Dylan O’Brien describes a scene in the movie where his character Thomas flees from a Griever by jumping onto ivy vines that cover the maze walls. During filming, O’Brien was up on the wires for an entire 12-hour day—the crew even brought the food to him during breaks. Director Wes Ball used actual ivy on the film set.

“In the scene, I’m running away from the griever and it jumps on the wall over me, so [the crew] shook the wall and debris was shaking down. It kept getting in my eyes,” he laughed. ‘Wes would be like, “I got it baby, don’t need the medic.’ And he’d come over and just take it out of my eye. Before I was never someone who was comfortable with people touching their eyeball, but now I am.”

The Maze Runner still of Dylan O’Brien and Ki Hong LeeThe cast also had to deal with a slippery set. Characters called Runners are sent out into the maze to map it every day. In action-packed sequences, they run for their lives from Grievers, and filming that was no easy task.

According to O’Brien, the maze was hosed down and packed with real mud. This proved to be tricky—even dangerous—for the cast.

10358568_677495699001160_7701159235454914440_n“There’s a scene in there when I pulled my hamstring when I was running,” says Ki Hong Lee, who plays Minho, the Keeper of Runners. “We would literally run all day, 12-14 hours in an abandoned parking lot. Even inside the maze, I fell three times.”

Even so, the cast picked up their heads and continued to run under the watchful eye of their director.

“Wes says this a thousand times: ‘Pain is temporary but film is forever,'” says O’Brien. “He drives us into the ground but it’s fun and awesome. I love sprinting, so this was perfect, but also exhausting. Wes’s philosophy always came into play.”



And after a month of working hard together, it’s natural that the cast found themselves bonding like a family. Kaya Scodelario plays the only girl in the movie, but at no time did she feel like the boys treated her differently. In fact, the cast calls her “laddish.”

The strong bromance on set definitely had its consequences—which fans will love to see on the DVD extras.

“Apparently there’s a 20-minute gag reel, and I don’t know if that speaks to our professionalism,” jokes Will Poulter, who plays Gally. “It’s 20 minutes of us cracking up and not doing our jobs properly.”

Run with the Gladers when The Maze Runner opens in theaters, Sept. 19.



「少女記者」們紛紛表示「分歧者」電影比預期的要好,甚至超越原著。Page to premiere網站創始人Kimmy West表示:「『分歧者』的小說其實並沒有『飢餓遊戲』那麼引人入勝,但電影拍攝出來效果不錯,特別是選角都很恰當,但相比之下,我還是更喜歡『飢餓遊戲』,覺得『分歧者』似乎過於暴力,個別殺戮和冒險情節會對青少年有不太好的影響。相比之下『飢餓遊戲』也包括殺戮,但展現手法比較含蓄,沒有『分歧者』那麼直接。」她們也喜歡片中男主角提奧詹姆斯(Theo James),認為他比「飢餓遊戲」中兩位男星更有魅力。

Image比較兩位女主角─90後女星,女孩們則覺得夏琳伍德利(Shailene Woodley)雖然演技不賴,但珍妮佛勞倫斯(Jennifer Lawrence)更有親和力。Page to premiere網站記者Natasha Polis表示:「勞倫斯個性上大大咧咧,平時受訪與粉絲互動都更放的開,笑點不斷,很像鄰家女孩。但夏琳伍德利很注意自己的談吐,吃東西也很挑剔,作為上更像明星,有距離感。」

在眾多小記者中也有一名華人女孩、14歲來自核桃市的蕭靖彤(Cassandra Hsiao)。她是KidsPickFlicks的記者和影評人。自小喜歡寫作的她也曾被Scholastic Kids Press Corps選中作為少年記者,經常受到迪士尼等電影公司邀請,參與青少年電影和動畫片的記者會,她目前擁有自己的電影博客,上面有很多她對好萊塢大明星的採訪及電影評論。

蕭靖彤表示,很看好夏琳伍德利,特別期待伍德利目前拍攝的另一部暢銷小說改編作品「生命中的美好缺憾」(The Fault in Our Stars),這部小說比「分歧者」更讓她痴迷。蕭靖彤說,以後的夢想是成為「分歧者」原著作者諾妮卡羅斯 (Veronica Roth)這樣的青年作家。現年25歲的諾妮卡羅斯大學期間就完成了「分歧者」,如今已寫了三部暢銷小說。


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FROZEN: I Became a Disney Animator!

It’s a long process to bring a movie to life.

At the Frozen press day at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, I got the rare opportunity to try my hand at becoming an animator myself!

I learned from the special effects team that one of the many challenges of making Frozen was shooting the film with all the angles and the camera tracking. In an empty room, six LED lights track the movement of the camera. On the computers, however, it’s a different story. When the camera moves, the tracker on the computer moves as well.

“At the end of the day, the goal is to map an organic, three-dimensional motion for a layout artist from the real world into the virtual,” says Evan Goldberg, Disney Animation’s Manager of Technology. “How do we decide where to put the camera to tell the story in the best possible way? How dramatic do we want it to be?”

The five monitors in the room begin to play a blocked out, pre-production scene from the movie, where Sven the reindeer is dashing towards a falling ship. I got to experiment with the camera, which showed what I would be seeing had I been standing in the virtual room myself. I could move the camera wherever I wanted in the virtual world. I could stand right next to the ship and watch Sven dash towards me, I could shoot the sky and swing downwards, I could run with Sven and make the scene as thrilling as possible – the possibilities in the virtual room were endless.

DSC_2837Another department was the character development. “This department is primarily responsible for building character rigs, the cloth rigs and running stimulation on the show,” says Frank Hanner, character CO Supervisor.

The riggers build skeletons to the characters, attach muscles and skin on the characters, and build animator controls to allow the animator to determine how the characters move around – from a slight smile to skipping down the street.

In Frozen, there are 312 unique character rigs, more rigging done than on any other Disney film. There are 245 cloth stimulation rigs, an impressive number because it is more than double the number of all stimulated costumes in the combined Disney films preceeding Frozen.

DSC_2832“An average human has a 100,000 hairs on their head. Elsa has 420,000 hairs on her head. She has really thick, lustrous beautiful hair. Our last very famous Disney leading lady was Rapunzel, who only had 27,000 hairs,” explained Hanner.

In the end, I tried my hand at animating Olaf, the snowman who has the uncanny ability to disassemble his body. The countless buttons and controls took a while to get used to, but soon I realized it’s ridiculously fun to stretch Olaf’s mouth as wide as possible or make him cross-eyed and silly.

Cool off with Frozen, in theaters November 27!


Cierra Ramirez & Raini Rodriguez are GIRLs IN PROGRESS

Cierra Ramirez and Raini Rodriguez talk to KidsPickFlicks about growing up, stage fright and the difference between making a TV show and a movie, particularly their movie GIRL IN PROGRESS. @ www.KidspickFlicks

Biologist Turned Filmmaker Shares Skills

David Lickley (Director)

As a kid, David Lickley dreamed of rocking the world as a famous folk singer. He hit it big, but in a different way—as a documentary filmmaker.

“I began as a biologist and a musician,” Lickley told Scholastic News in a recent interview. “I was into music and biology, so I started to do small soundtracks for other people’s work.”

He moved into filming the animals he was studying, which lead to directing documentaries. Now, with more than 25 years of filmmaking experience, Lickley is the Director of Large Format Films for Science North, a leader in science education. He not only directs documentaries, he is a writer and producer as well.

“The job of the producer is to get the project going, and to watch over the project,” he said. “The job of the director is more of the creative side. You’re looking after what is going on the screen, and how you’re telling the story. The writer is there to make it all work. I enjoy being a director because you don’t have to worry about the logistics, but you can just focus on the story.”

The skills that help Lickley handle all three roles came through education and hard work. He has a Master’s Degree in biology and he spends a great deal of time studying animals for his films.

“Understanding what animals are all about and understanding the people that study them was where I began in this career,” he said. “Then I went to the point of trying to tell their stories. It’s important to communicate what you do to the world.”

Lickley has written, produced, and directed documentaries on a wide range of subjects, all of which have something to do with biology.

“I like real stories about real people, and I like animals,” he said. “Generally, my films are about animals as a broad subject, but also the people who work with them. I think documentaries are fantastic for getting people into the world, and it’s nice to show them things that they don’t know about.”

Lickley is known for directing Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees, and more recently, Born to Be Wild, a touching story about two remarkable women who have dedicated their lives to nurturing orphan orangutans and elephants.

Lickley encourages kids to start making their own films if they want to follow in his steps.

“Get an education. Spend as much time as you possibly can learning about things, and then pick up the tools if you want to be a filmmaker,” he said. “Technology is successful, and everyone can start filming with a small camera. You have a huge advantage now. You can post things on the web and you’ll learn how to tell stories.”

Lickley concluded by sharing some tips about writing with this reporter.

“It’s about doing it,” he said. “Just write. Write stories. Start making your own films. Just do it! The Nike slogan [Just Do It!] is really true now. The tools are there. You don’t need 20 years of experience. You can still make really interesting films. It’s about storytelling, and that’s what writing is, trying to tell a story.”


Check out my interview with director David Lickley @Scholastic Inc, first published at

Born to be Wild IMAX 3D opens hearts and minds to animal rescue Press Conference

“They’re so close to humans—they share 96 per cent of our genetic material,” said Dr. Galdikas. “They share the same emotions with us. You can read them. You can tell if they’re angry, jealous, even if they’re embarrassed. You can tell if they like something or they don’t like something. They’re very gentle, benevolent, and benign.”

The cast and crew captured unforgettable scenes with the childlike, carefree orangutans.

“One of the particularly memorable shots for me was when there was an orangutan up in a tree, swinging, and he grabs another tree,” said Lickley. “He pulls it and it comes crashing down. We didn’t expect the tree to fall, but that’s the orangutan world is all about. That was an amazing, lucky shot to get, to be there, rolling, when that incident happened.”

Another memorable scene in the film took place in Kenya.

Dr. Galdikas and her son

Dr. Galdikas and her son

“With the elephants, it was the elephant rescue,” Lickley continued. “We hoped that we had a chance to film a baby elephant rescue, but it was right down to the last week of filming and they hadn’t found an elephant to rescue. Then it just kind of happened, right in front of our eyes. We were able to capture it as it was happening.”

Born to Be Wild underlines the bonding between humans and orphans of the wild.

“You reap what you sow with an elephant,” said Dr. Sheldrick. “If a caregiver is kind and loves the elephants from their heart, the elephants will detect that and like him.”

In many ways elephants are just like human children, said Sheldrick.

“When you raise them in the nursery, you see them every day,” she said. “We replace the elephant family with a human family, and the elephants will remember their human family for life. It’s been scientifically proven that the memory part of an elephant’s brain far surpasses human’s memory. The saying that an elephant never forgets is absolutely true.”

Dr.Dame Daphne Sheldrick

Dr.Dame Daphne Sheldrick

“When you are watching Born to Be Wild, there’s something in your heart that reaches out to these animals,” said Lickley. “Dr. Galdikas and Dr. Sheldrick show us that everyone can make a difference. And that’s what this film is trying to do—to get that emotional impact across to the audience.”


Check out my interview with them @Scholastic Inc,  First published at

Mars Needs Moms – Blast off to Mars

Joan Cusack(Mom) AND Mindy Sterling (The Supervisor)

After beating early morning rush hour traffic, I finally arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California. I had my questions ready for the cast and crew of the movie,Mars Needs Moms.

I was covering a press junket for the movie, which “invades” theatres on Friday, March 11. I couldn’t wait to meet the actors in the movie I had just seen the night before at the Universal CityWalk Cinema in IMAX 3D®!

Members of the press were provided with a delicious “only-served-on-Mars” breakfast right before we were called to the conference room. The delicious “UFO” scrambled eggs, the scrumptious sausages covered with Mars’ red dust (peppers) and the red bacon really satisfied my appetite!

Seth Green (Milo), Simon Wells (director and co-writer), and Robert Zemeckis (producer) walked up to the stage and took their seats in front of a banner showing the surface of Mars. I marveled at how performance capture allowed 36-year-old Green to portray 9-year-old Milo!

I raised my hand to ask a question, and when the woman holding the microphone finally gave me the hint that I would be next, they called “time’s up.” I was a little disappointed, but my questions were answered during the roundtables.

I had thought at a round table, the tables would be round, but the cast and crew actually sat behind a rectangular table to answer questions from the press. Roundtable is a term used for when several reporters are conducting interviews together. It has nothing to do with the shape of the table.

The biggest treat of all was getting one-on-one interviews with the cast and crew! Every actor had his or her own suite. Disney publicists brought press members to each room. I spent about 10 minutes with each member of the cast and crew talking and laughing. I felt that I could really connect to the heart of the movie as we discussed about their characters.

“I think you ask very good questions,” Joan Cusack (Milo’s Mom) replied when I asked her if she looked up to Milo’s Mom’s example of love. “It sounds like you have a very good mom, and you’re really smart, and that’s a really interesting question.”

I was ecstatic because I had spent a lot of time coming up with the questions. My mom was also on cloud nine when I told her Cusack praised her for being such a good mother.


Mars Needs Moms Press Conference

(Robert Zemeckis (producer) , Seth Green (Milo); (Simon Wells (Director) Photo Courtesy Cassandra Hsiao

Experience outer space as you travel on a journey with 9-year-old Milo to save his mom in the movie Mars Needs Moms. Directed by Simon Wells, this motion capture animated film is based on the book by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed.”We took the tent poles from Berkeley’s book: the kid who doesn’t appreciate his mom and the moment where mom absolutely proves how much she really and truly loves him,” Wells told the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps at a press event to publicize the movie. “We looked for the theme that connected those two together.”

Milo’s Mom is played by Joan Cusack, who brought her own intuition to the storylines.

“I have a son whose name is Miles,” Cusack explained when asked about how she gets into character. “I’ve had many conversations with my son like Mom has with Milo — especially about broccoli.” That explains why Cusack would often say Miles instead of Milo in the middle of a take!

Another character who added laughs and spiced up the movie is Gribble, played by Dan Fogler.

“Gribble is basically me with the dial turned up on my maniac side,” Fogler said with a laugh. “It was cool to play a character who is 6 feet 7 inches, cause I’m not.”

Yet, along with a hilarious range of physical and dialogue inventions, Fogler brought an amazing emotional depth to the character of Gribble.

“When Dan acted the scene of Gribble revealing his past, he did it so much better than we were expecting,” Wells recalled. “It was one of those moments where the entire crew on set applauded at the end of his take because he made it deeply, emotionally heartbreaking.”

best bud before Milo arrives on Mars is Wingnut (Kevin Cahoon), the leader of the Hairy Tribe Guys who live in underground trash caverns and embody the lost love of Mars.

Elisabeth Harnois (Ki) AND Dan Fogler (Gribble) AND Kevin Cahoon (Wingnut) – Photo Courtesy Cassandra Hsiao

“As an actor, you’re playing a creature that doesn’t exist on earth and doesn’t speak English,” Cahoon said, describing what it was like to get into Wingnut’s character. “If you think that he looks for bugs in your hair, you just have to take risks and go with that impulse. Wingnut’s sort of like a chimpanzee with ADD.”

So who’s the bad guy behind the cold strict conduct of Mars? The Supervisor with her evil satisfaction, unwavering control, and unpredictable fury is played by Mindy Sterling, who approached the fear-provoking character with a sense of humor.

“Sometimes when you play mean, horrible characters like the Supervisor, you get a sense of fun because that is not who I am, though my son might not think so,” Sterling said with a smile. “I had fun with who she is. She thinks she knows everything, but she really doesn’t.”

Simon Wells (Director and Co-Writer) and Wendy Wells (Co-Writer)

All the Martian characters have their own unique look. The movie shows the emotion in the eyes and the facial expressions through the process of mocap, or motion capture.

“The actors wear a helmet with four cameras pointed at them, which takes a little while to get used to,” said Huck Wirtz, the animation supervisor. “At first they were knocking into one another and banging the cameras everywhere. The dots capture their performance. When the animators add the life into the character, you can feel the emotion on the face.”

What’s the secret message in the movie? Cusack, as the Mom, said it all.

“Being a mom is not about being your kid’s friend,” Cusack said. “It’s more selfless than that. Mars Needs Moms really shows that ultimate love. It reinforces how important moms are.”


©Scholastic Inc. First published online at
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