KIDS FIRST! Film Festival/Hawaiʻi


Expired February 21, 2022 9:45 PM
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Q & A with show creators 

Johanna Stein, Executive Producer and Showrunner

TJ Sullivan, Supervising Director

Justin Maurer, ASL Consultant

Delbert Whetter, ASL Consultant

Jevon Whetter, ASL Consultant

Billy Sanders - ASL Interpreter

Gabe Gomez - ASL Interpreter

Eshaan M., Moderator, KIDS FIRST!

Johanna Stein serves as Executive Producer for Madagascar: A Little Wild, the Emmy® nominated series based on Madagascar’s Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo as kids residing in their rescue habitat at the Central Park Zoo. Stein previously served as a writer for DreamWorks’ Emmy nominated Prime Video original series Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny and a staff writer on DreamWorks Netflix original series Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh and Disney’s Wander Over Yonder. She also created a “Momhead”, a viral video based on a chapter in her book How Not to Calm a Child on a Plane featuring the insults said by her young daughter. Stein is a graduate of University of Winnipeg and the American Film Institute, and currently resides in Los Angeles.

T.J. Sullivan, Supervising Director. An Emmy and Annie nominated animator and director, TJ Sullivan brings over 20 years of experience in TV and feature films. Having recently served as Supervising Director on Madagascar: A Little Wild, TJ has worked for such studios as DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon and Warner Brothers Animation. TJ also works as an animator, having animated on several projects, including the feature film Barnyard: The Original Party Animals and Beware the Batman, which earned him a Daytime Emmy nod for his animation in the opening title sequence. In his spare time, TJ illustrates the online comic Going Boldly.

Justin Maurer, Consultant. Justin Maurer is a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and an American Sign Language interpreter based in Los Angeles. He is honored to serve the Deaf Community. He works full time as an ASL interpreter and is also a consultant on a Deaf-led ASL consulting team who has consulted on Disney's Big City Greens and Dreamworks Animation's Madagascar: A Little Wild. He has interpreted for the 2021 Emmy Awards, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Entertainment Tonight, Shark Tank, and the Media Access Awards. He has had the honor of interpreting for former First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and many more. As an advocate for the Deaf community he always works with Deaf team members when he is hired as an ASL Consultant for scripts, films, or television. 

Delbert Whetter, Consultant. Delbert Whetter (Producer) served as the lead Business Affairs executive and producer on behalf of numerous entertainment and digital content providers for over two decades. Delbert has worked on Exodus Film Group animated features, “IGOR”, “The Hero of Color City”, and “Bunyan & Babe”, receiving Co-Executive Producer credit on Exodus’ two recent films, and is serving as Executive Producer on the upcoming animated feature film, “Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk”. Delbert, a deaf producer born to three generations of deaf family members, is currently producing “Flash Before the Bang”, a live-action narrative feature film based on a true story about an all-deaf high-school track & field championship team, and “Live at the Deaf Club: The Story of Punk Rock at the San Francisco Deaf Club”, a documentary about the legendary 1970’s punk rock venue.

Jevon Whetter, Consultant - Jevon’s professional stage experience includes National Theater for the Deaf’s Ophelia tour and appearances at the Deaf West Theatre. Jevon has worked as an ASL dialogue coach, a stage director and was a recipient of the 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grant. Jevon founded the Performing Arts program at CA School for the Deaf, Riverside. As adjunct professor of ASL and Deaf Theatre courses at CA State University / Northridge Jevon wrote and directed many theatrical productions. Jevon currently teaches at LA Unified School District and continues to work as a producer, director, and writer for numerous stage and film projects in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife, Kimberly, and son, Robert. Jevon Whetter earned his MFA in Producing from the American Film Institute Conservatory and holds a MA in Theatre Arts from San Diego State University with honors from the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Host: KIDS FIRST! Film Critic and Reporter, Eshaan M. Eshaan M. (age 15), lives in Houston, TX. He loves watching movies and telling stories! Joining KIDS FIRST! allows him to explore storytelling within the realm of movies. He hopes to provide an enjoyable and reliable retelling of his experience of watching movies to KIDS FIRST! audiences. Eshaan loves musical theatre, playing videogames, spending time with family and friends, writing, exploring new cuisines, traveling, and watching films. Eshaan is a huge fan of the Bourne series for their intricate plotlines. His favorite actor is Matt Damon because most of Damon’s films are masterpieces, thanks to his believable acting and hard work. Peter Travers from The Rolling Stone is a favorite film critic. Eshaan reported for Time for Kids magazine in 2019-2020 and one of his highlights was covering the Democratic Debate in Houston where he interviewed Sen. Kamala Harris.

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