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 company.”
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 programs!
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 them.
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, www.GoLittleLeaders.com “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 it up.”