By Edwin L. Carpenter - Associate Editor, The Dove Foundation
The "Little Leaders" video production company has won several awards, including
The Dove Foundation's "Family-Approved" Seal.
This award-winning company which has produced popular videos such as
"Little Noah," "Little Ruth," and "Little Joseph," began in the mind of its president,
Bradley Silvius. His ingenuity forged a path which led to the creation of the
well-loved Tibo Tiger, Jo Jo Giraffe, and Cara Camel. His goal to "raise the
bar," and to "step it up," have been realized but Brad is not likely to be found
resting on his laurels.
On Christmas Eve of just a few years ago, he was wondering what to give his
niece and nephew for Christmas. He spoke to their babysitters and looked at the
DVDs and books they were exposed to and, although the material was good product,
a family vacation in May 2004 resulted in the birth of "Little Leaders."
"We all climbed in a mini-van to Toledo, Ohio, and then on to
Myrtle Beach and we had a DVD player between the two front seats, and as I was
just sitting there watching these different DVDs, the first thought that struck
my mind was I wasn't too overly impressed with the level of production. I began
to wonder if there wasn't something safer available…my brother-in-law's a pastor
and looking for Bible-based products. I did some research and found there really
wasn't anything out there along the idea of what I had in mind for this
From that point it was a matter of getting the resources together and Brad's
first venture resulted in "Little Noah." Yet, "raising the bar" would become his
rule of thumb as sometime later the company released a second version of "Little
Noah," with CGI and 3D effects. The DVD offers several alternative languages
including Spanish and Japanese, and even sign language displayed on screen via a
real person signing. Its use of puppets and soothing music and the extra
features make it a real winner for children, typically nine months and up, or
three and up, although he stated that some nine-year olds even enjoy the
Brad spoke with enthusiasm when asked about the feedback he received on the
videos. "From an actual consumer standpoint, it's been phenomenal. The feedback
we've gotten from all over the country, literally, it's just been overwhelming.
We've given a slew of radio and television interviews."
The outreach has been so successful that he said a visit to Brazil revealed that
children to age nine have been "enthralled with it."
"We're pretty much on track with what our mission is…that is, we're really
trying to be that first step of actual Bible story. We're strictly trying to get
across that basic child-like version of the story. We're trying to expose the
child to what different languages sound like." Brad was delighted when he heard
his niece say the word "red" in Japanese. He wants his audience, the children,
to be exposed to words and the different sounds of the human voice.
Another example of this company's dedication to quality is that they tend to use
native speakers of the languages in the videos. The Japanese words are spoken by
a national of Japan—the same with Germany and so on.
Children have expressed an interest in the names of the characters and when
questioned about the inspiration of the animal's names, Brad replied, "We
decided to start out with two—Tibo Tiger and Jo Jo Giraffe, and to be honest
with you, I have no idea where the names came from! They just popped out and we
stuck with them."
He stresses that one of their company mission statements is "Everything we do
we're going to try to do with the utmost level of quality and that's why we were
so anxious to release a second version of ‘Little Noah.'" Some people loved the
character and didn't think it was necessary but he wanted the project to be top
quality. They developed their own puppets and sewed them by hand. Their designs
have met with inquiries from other companies with an interest in distributing
The company hopes to move from direct marketing to retail and the videos are now
available through www.christiancinema.com as well as their own site,
"We're really hoping that 2006 will be a breakout year
for us to move away from direct [sales] to retail. We're really excited about "Little Moses"
which is slated for early February of '06. We're really hoping that we're going
to carve our niche out as far as raising the bar with the effectiveness of the
product we're offering."
Brad enthused about other future plans: more bonus tracks on the DVD releases,
interactive choices, the release of their first audio CD, and high definition
releases. As he looked ahead he commented, "We want to step it up." With Brad
Silvius at the helm, "Little Leaders" no doubt will "raise the bar," and "step