In 2012, Freshi Media, teaming up with plasq and its innovative and easy-to-use Comic Life™ software, has created a new and exciting educational “Comic Book Creator” courses for youth (K-12). “This is definitely a natural fit in Freshi’s Digital Media toolbox of curricula. As the comic book world increasingly ignites our pop culture online, in print and on the big screen, plasq’s Comic Life™ software provides users another fun avenue to express themselves. We look forward to building comic life clubs and dynamic projects based on this highly visual medium,” comments Dr. Suzanne Shoemaker, Freshi’s Managing Director.
Comics provide narrative experiences for students just beginning to read and for students acquiring a new language. Students follow story beginnings and endings, plot, characters, time and setting, sequencing without needing sophisticated word decoding skills. Images support the text and give students significant contextual clues to word meaning. Comics act as a scaffold to student understanding.
As Stephen Cary, a second language learner specialist and author of Going Graphic: Comics at Work in the Multilingual Classroom, says: "Comics provide authentic language learning opportunities for all students.... The dramatically reduced text of many comics make them manageable and language profitable for even beginning level readers."
Also according to Cary, comics motivate reluctant readers. They engage students in a literary format which is their own. Comics speak to students in a way they understand and identify with. Even after students learn to be strong readers comics give students the opportunity to read material which combines images with text to express satire, symbolism, point of view, drama, puns and humor in ways not possible with text alone.
Many students read fluently, but find it difficult to write. They complain that they don't know what to write. They have ideas, but they lack the written language skills to create a beginning, follow a sequence of ideas and then draw their writing to a logical conclusion.
Students frequently ask if they may draw a picture when they're writing. They are reaching for images to support their language ideas. Allowed to use words and images they will resolve problems of storytelling which they would not otherwise experience using words alone. Like reading, comics provide a scaffolding so that students experience success in their writing. Students transfer specific elements directly into text-only writing. For example, students learn that whatever text found in a word balloon is put inside quotes in their text-only writing.
Using Comic Life students have a new publishing medium. Comic Life documents can be printed, emailed to parents or posted as a website very easily.
Founded in 1993 as a “grassroots” non-profit organization by Chris Shoemaker, Suzanne Shoemaker and Patte Dee McKee (still active directors), IFFF formed to exhibit and advocate for the production of family films – a driving purpose that continues today.
Originally established in the City of Santa Clarita, a suburb of north Los Angeles County that is rich with film history and lore dating back to the silent picture era, Santa Clarita continues to host the filming of a large number of feature films, popular television series and many commercials and industrial films. The first year’s fest unspooled in a “discount theater” in downtown Newhall (now part of Santa Clarita) where tickets generally sold for $1.00 a screening. With no track record, marketing effort or established reputation to its name, the IFFF’s organizers rented a considerable number of films to round out its first year’s film programming.
Another challenge met IFFF’s founders – the Northridge earthquake struck the Southern California region on January 17, 1994 and felled the major freeways and connector roads from Los Angeles to the Santa Clarita Valley. With the opening day of the inaugural fest set for March 18th 1994, prevailing wisdom suggested the festival should be postponed until the following year. In the tradition of “the show must go on” and with all events planned and films programmed, the show did indeed go on.
The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Garden Inn (a last minute change since the originally planned venue, a sound stage at Santa Clarita Studios, became flooded from the previous night’s rain due to the earthquake’s damage). The festival honored an attending Mr. Isadore “Friz” Freleng, the father of Warner Bros. animation, as its first recipient for a Lifetime Achievement of Excellence in animation (the “Friz Award” still bears his name) with Mr. Tom Patton and Mr. Dean Jones in attendance. Continuing with the festival in the face of adversity, a most graceful and distinguished event was presented to launch this proud organization.
From its Newhall screening beginnings, IFFF moved its festival venue across town to the newly built Edwards Cinemas at the Valencia Town Center. From this location, as well as a single year presenting at the Edwards Cinemas-Canyon Country venue, the IFFF presented its first 11 years in the Santa Clarita Valley before relocating in 2001 to the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, CA.
Now in its fifth year at Raleigh (the original United Artists Studio founded by independent artists Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith), the studio serves as a perfect home for the IFFF with three screening theaters, a sit-down restaurant and breakout spaces for seminars, panels, screenplay readings and networking.
IFFF’s target audience attracts filmmakers, writers, producers, agents, distributors, financers, social media experts, families and youth. To further define the family film genre and its own rating system for festival screenings, IFFF has introduced its festival rating system as follows: GA – General Audience or appropriate for all family members, CH – Children 13 and under with suggested parental guidance, and MA – films for a mature audience ages 13 and older. This system breaks the preconception that “family films” mean “shallow, fluffy or boring” films. IFFF strives to deliver stories and films that are engaging and appropriate for all members of the family with themes that help define and challenge the definition of family.