by Edwin L. Carpenter – Associate Editor, The Dove Foundation
Don Judd has a background in television and is plotting ways in which he can use the media to reach children with positive family programming. His plans include a website and animated videos. His long running career in the media began during his college days.
“I put myself through college being a disc jockey,” he told Dove recently in an exclusive interview. When this writer said, “That’s interesting,” he drolly replied, “I don’t know if it was particularly interesting! At the time I enjoyed it. Then I went into television and radio and while I was in television I found that I was very interested in entertainment, maybe more than journalism. I had graduated from Idaho State University where my dad was on the faculty in Speech because they didn’t have a journalism school there. It helped me get the kind of employment that I wanted and then I took another job. I did some things for CBS on a regional basis, and NBC, and found that what I wanted to do was try and create the kind of entertainment that would not assault your values. It would not be the kind of thing that, as a producer, I wouldn’t be proud to show my children or my grandchildren. So in 1988 I helped found an organization called “Family Films,” which became “Feature Films for Families,” because we found that there was already an organization called “Family Films.” So, we changed our name to “Feature Films for Families.” I was the first president. As the company grew I chose to get involved more and more in production. Since 1991 I have either produced or supervised the production or development of eighteen motion pictures which we’re really proud of. It’s time now for me to utilize many of the people I became acquainted with that are so talented in the business and don’t really have an opportunity to express themselves in the kind of genre or vehicle that they would like to—something more family friendly.”
Judd mentioned a few of the most popular films which “Feature Films for Families” produced. “There’s a film called ‘Rigoletto,’ ‘Friendship’s Field,’ and ‘The Buttercream Gang,’ which is a real fun story about a gang of kids who choose to do good instead of bad like the traditional gangs we hear so much about today. Those were some of them—there’s a bunch.”
Judd is now working on what he calls “an ambitious project,” a nearly completed script titled “Our Children’s Friend,” (http://www.ourchildrensfriend.com) There is no live action planned for it and everything will be animated in vector based animation. “Each story will be three to five minutes in length and some will be episodic,” he said. This is planned for his website, and Judd added, “The characters will be used in hopes of providing entertainment.” He is currently conducting a survey and it will give parents “a feel for what will be on the site.” It is his desire that the website and its content be free to its visitors.
As plans move ahead for the flash animated script, he said, “The objective of ‘Our Children’s Friend’ is to strive to be the kind of friend every child deserves, a companion with gentle humor, laughter, and love, empowering children to be and do their best. And that’s a rather high order. The mission of the company is to provide unequalled entertainment to enlarge and enrich the world of children, and to re-enforce values such as service, honesty, kindness, good manners, integrity, and the value of work.”
When Judd was asked if he were the children’s friend in his script, he said, “What an interesting question! I would certainly like to be. I am going to use as many of the talented people that I have run into in Europe and the United States in the last eighteen years as I can, to write and produce. We’re using flash animation instead of traditional 2-D or 3-D animation because its the simplest way to get the stories that we produce into the homes of the children that need it is via the internet. In order for animation to go into a copper wire, which is the worse case scenario with regard to entertainment going into the home on the internet, as opposed to a broad-band connection or something like that, the file has to be as small as possible. We’re trying to develop techniques to use which will be real high quality animation but which will keep the file as small as possible so that it doesn’t take a long time for people or children to be able to see it. As soon as they click on our site they’ll be greeted by one of our little animal characters and the character will say, ‘Can I tell you a story?’” Judd mentioned various characters including a hippo who believes she is the world’s skinniest hippo! It’s a complex she has because “she is not skinny at all, she just has a thin neck!” There are lots of others according to Judd.
Judd mentioned that he hopes parents and interested people will fill out the survey at his website because it will give him useful information in moving ahead with story ideas. “Don Judd has an opinion as Ed Carpenter would or anyone else for that matter. What I really want is the opinion of as many parents as I can possibly get. That will really be helpful.”
He is obviously pumped up about the characters telling children via the free site how they can be a better friend. “The website is free so parents could in fact if they wanted to actually download these stories and play them again. We’re trying to provide a service for moms and dads and children, so let’s say we’ve created 30 five-minute stories—all of them are still available on the internet—we will make available to parents the most popular stories of the mouse or the caterpillar, or the butterfly or whatever it will be. Eventually they will be available on DVD. But to begin with, everything is going to be free and accessible on the internet twenty four hours a day.”
When asked about how soon he hopes to have the site up and running, Judd replied, “Animation is quite expensive. We intend to launch with fifteen to thirty stories, and we hope to be able to do it before the end of this year.”
Judd sent along some stills of the characters and he explained why the quality is so good. “These were done by an illustrator who once worked for Disney in Burbank,” he explained. Judd spoke with great enthusiasm as this is the kind of family-oriented, talented artist he is putting to work for his website. He went on to say he was one of the best 2-D animators that Disney had. Judd is excited to bring talented people on-board who want to work on more child-friendly projects. Many of the animators work full-time for major studios and will work part-time hours after work to help make “Our Children’s Friend,” a reality.
“So much of what happens in today’s entertainment business is intended to create a consumer instead of helping parents raise children that will have a bright future and know the difference between right and wrong.”
It is Don Judd’s goal to bring what he calls “edu-tainment” to children, to teach them as he also entertains them. He is obviously a caring friend to children. As his website launches, we hope that you and your kids will treat him as a friend as well.