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Interview: Robert Vince of ‘The Search for Santa Paws’

Posted on November 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Robert Vince is the man behind the wildly popular “buddies” movies including the latest, The Search For Santa Paws. They feature adorable dogs and heartwarming stories, just right for family movie night. I spoke to him about the challenges of directing animals and children, what makes a great holiday movie, and why Christmas is his favorite time of year.

I wanted to make a Christmas movie and our lofty goal was to make one that had timeless values, a classic, a perennial that parents could pull out for their children each year.

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You have some great voice talent — tell me about casting.

Nine tenths of the job is finding talented people who are great at what they do and then they make me look great.

The voice talent people have to have a distinctive voice that comes out of that character rather than being placed into it. They have an ability to project; it’s more like being a theater actor in some ways than a film actor that can use their physicality.

Actors often say that you should never work with children or animals, but that seems to be your specialty! How do you make that work?

We’re making family films because we love them and we’ve been doing it for a long time. Family films and children and animals go “hand in paws,” as I like to say. Children are not acting in a lot of ways; they’re being who they are. That’s where casting is important. You have to choose children for a role that is based on who they are because they really can’t be something else very well or believably. So Madison Pettis really was the big sister figure to all the other girls on the set. And Kaitlyn Maher really is the cutest little thing on the planet is really a sweet little soul with a beautiful voice. I’d like to say it’s great directing but it’s really who they are.

And with the animals, it’s the trainers — they really know how to create characters with the animals. It’s a special talent. I tell them what I want and then with a look or the training, with their connection with the animals, they make it work.

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Is it important to you to work with Blu-Ray and the other technological advances?

Yes, it makes it possible for the audience at home to see our movie as it was intended to be seen in a theater. It’s such a fantastic technology and really brings the movie to life in the home. With the CGI and digital effects we can create any environment we want to. Anything I can think of, we can do. The film-maker is not limited by the resources available, only by imagination.

The sky’s the limit — literally. You’ve taken the buddies to outer space!

I always laugh when people ask how we got the moon shots. I say, “Well, we didn’t go to the moon!”

What makes a classic holiday movie?

It has to appeal to the most important part of that time of year, the selflessness. This is the one time of year where we suspend our own interests in a selfless manner and take care of others. It has to connect with the heart and music is a big part of that. We have a beautiful song that really connects. You have to have a sense of faith and belief and the importance of the family bond.

To me, the spirit of Christmas is embodied in the hearts of children untouched by the fears, doubts, and disappointments of the adult world. That’s the line that means the most to me in the movie. Before I write a movie I try to write the theme in one sentence and that was it for me in this movie. That one line really says it all for me. As adults we get confused and have disappointments and the like but for a child, in the morning when they get up, their hearts filled with joy, giving to each other, that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about.

And don’t forget the Santa Paws giveaway!

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Behind the Scenes Directors Interview
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Interview: Kaitlyn Maher of ‘Santa Buddies’

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 12:24 pm

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Kaitlyn Maher, who enchanted millions with her appearances on “America’s Got Talent,” has a sweet, clear voice and a sunny personality. She is quite busy these days, appearing in Disney’s new Santa Buddies DVD and singing on the soundtrack. And she has a new CD coming out in December, You Were Meant To Be. Two singles will be available for download next week on her website. She will soon star in a new Disney film, “The Search for Santa Paws,” and is a special ambassador to help in the campaign to help poor children throughout the world. She has toured the US and abroad, singing before audiences in concerts, charities, and sporting events.

Imagine what she will do when she is six.

Yes, Kaitlyn is just five years old. And she and her mother Alison took the time to speak with me about what she is up to, from singing and song-writing to taking care of her baby brother.

Don’t forget to check out my Santa Buddies giveaway!

NM: Do you like being the voice of Tiny the puppy in the new “Santa Buddies” movie?

KM: He’s really cute! I love Tiny because he saves the day and is sweet and nice and cute, and he sings. He shares his love and that’s what I like to do! I think it is wonderful that I get to sing in the movie. I love acting but singing is my favorite thing do to. The song in the movie is “The Christmas Miracle.”

NM: How old were you when you started singing?

I was just one year old.

NM: Are there some Christmas songs on your new CD?

KM: “God Rest Ye” and “Away in a Manger.” My favorite songs to sing are “Amazing Grace” and “Daddy I Love You.” I helped write that song and another one called “Dreams Come True.

NM: Do you have a favorite toy?

KM: I have Samantha, the American Girl. We have some tea and we just play together and I read books to her. I sing to her a lot! I help my baby brother stack his blocks when he needs some help and when he can’t reach something that he wants.

NM: And what movies do you like?

KM: I like to watch the princess movies, “Cinderella” and “Snow White.”

NM: What do you love most about singing?

KM: I wanted to bless people and give them hope and help cheer up their day when they’re having a bad day. I never really have a bad day, I’m always reading books and playing with my baby brother and going to school.

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Actors Elementary School
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A Special Treat! Santa Buddies Giveaway!!

Posted on November 17, 2009 at 7:27 am

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The Buddies are back! Budderball, B-Dawg, Rosebud, Buddha and Mudbud team up with Puppy Paws, the fun-loving son of Santa Paws (of course) in a rollicking holiday adventure, available November 24, 2009. It features the voice of George Wendt (“Cheers”) as Santa and “America’s Got Talent” sensation Kaitlyn Maher as Tiny. (Stay tuned for an interview with the 5-year-old singer.)

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I have TWO sensational prize packages including the plush toys and the DVD to give away plus TWO Blu-Ray DVD sets. Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com before November 27, 2009 with Santa Buddies Toys OR Santa Buddies DVD in the subject line and tell me which is your favorite buddy and why. The first two to write for each prize will win the buddies! One prize per family.

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Disney’s Coming Releases

Posted on June 11, 2009 at 8:00 am

I was very lucky this week to have a special private briefing about some of what Disney has coming up in the next few months. The newly remastered Diamond edition of “Snow White” is a marvel, with all kinds of splendid extras about the history of the film and games and other goodies. One of the most fun is a quiz that will tell you which Disney Princess you most resemble. If your Blu-Ray is connected to the internet, you can even get a phone call from your special princess. I loved hearing about the upcoming “Princess and the Frog,” which looks and sounds like it will be one of Disney’s best.
And two words about what is sure to be a big hit this holiday season: “Santa Buddies!”

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