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September 20, 2009

TechMama hits the Red carpet for MUST SEE movie: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs When I found out that Sony invited a group of moms to LA to get photo/video tips while using Sony Digital Imaging products, I was very excited to use the Sony cameras and camcorders. I was also told that we were going to the premiere of the new Sony Pictures 3D movie came out THIS WEEKEND: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

I enjoyed reading the "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book to my children when they were younger, and spent the week before the trip asking my sons and their friends what they liked most about the book. They all remembered numerous vivid details in the book, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The images of falling food was obviously so rich for these kids’ imaginations. Lucky for them, and for parents who like to sneak in some hidden learning with the nighttime “read me a story” request, there are also weather-related Language Arts and Science lessons tied into the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book and movie. Scholastic published an interview with the book authors Ron and Judith Barnett.

After seeing the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" at the premiere (See disclosures at bottom of this post) last weekend - I had a MAJOR epiphany. The movie not only has amazing 3D graphics and animation to give viewers a "real taste" (yes, pun fully intended) of what it is like to experience falling hamburgers, a spaghetti tornado, a Jello palace, candy rainbows and other food fun - but it also has positive messages for kids and adults alike and geek surprises along the way. One geek surprise in the film that is also on the Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs website is a poster of Nikola Tesla, who was a real life inventor and electrical/ mechanical engineer. Next time I see the film, I will be looking to find more surprises. The movie is one of those feel good movies where the only violence is against gummie bears, geek (including science and math) is cool for boys and girls, the main characters all struggle then improve communication to their loved ones, selfish is NOT cool and the most important things in life are family/loved ones, as well as embracing your true self

On a personal note, I reached an epiphany with the help of the "story" behind the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and the interviews with the Directors and cast. My ten year old son is bright and like many of his peers inspired more the technology of movies and movie making than by his 5th grade homework. He can figure out the intricate features of my and my friends’ digital cameras faster than any adult. This inquisitive 10 year likes to spend time explaining to my 6 year old twins - while they are watching shows or films -  what is real versus what is computer generated and how it is done. One of the first things he did when he received his new MACbook was to play with iMovie, create green-screen movies and then attempt to explain the whole process to his family and friends. "Look mom, I figured out how to use the green screen function". To that, I said "Later, I am cooking dinner". One morning while I was asleep my son found my DSLR camera tripod and figured out how to use it for the his digital camera to take videos with the timer function. The first thing he said to me that morning was "the video quality is much better when I use a tripod".

Then, I attended the movie premier and witnessed the main characters of the film "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) struggle to embrace their true self. Flint's father also struggled to support that journey. Another message in the movie was that math and science, along with other fundamentals, are important to master if you are going to "save the world". This helped me see that I should be more active in supporting my son's interest in the production side of video/films. I decided to hand over one of my camcorders and a memory card to my son so that he could take and manage his own videos. I set aside time this past week to discuss how to edit videos and tied in the less-exciting school work part of his life by explaining that he needs to do his homework if he wants to go to a college and study filmaking. Best of all I explained to my son that if he is going to save the world, I mean master the art of filmaking, that mastering math, science and language arts now in school will help give him the fundamentals he will need for future success. 

I then used Twitter to share my epiphany with the film's directors, Phil Lord responded with:


The Writing/Directing team for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is Phil Lord and Chris Miller. We had the chance to interview both of them during press rounds the day before the premiere. The first thing I learned was not a big surprise: when they were younger, both enjoyed writing plays and creating short films. They met in college and realized they have similar interests. During the interview they were funny, completely engaging and witty as they explained that the movie production was a team effort - with over 500 team members (or "cells" in an organism as they called it). Each day on the set was like a food fight as they had to build each part of how food falls into the overall animation. When asked what hints Phil Lord and Chris Miller would give to kids, a few were "math/science is cool", "school is important", "Be comfortable with who you are", "Embrace your inner wierdo/geek", "Do something original and do it boldly". The last hint "Do something original and do it boldly" is what resonates for me as a way to describe the effort behind creating the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs".



Armed with a Sony A330 DSLR camera that we each had use of for the weekend and my smartphone (for live Twittering) I and the other moms each had our own spot on the red carpet to catch the action. We loaded our pictures to the Flickr group Sony Mom Event 2009.

All of my pictures from this post were taken with my loaner Sony A330 DSLR . I converted the high resolution pictures to .gifs to make it easier to load online.


Here is a picture taken of my multi-gadget approach to red carpet coverage (I am balancing a camera and smartphone). On the top right is a fellow Sony Mom using her Sony HDR-CX100 for video coverage.

Kimberley Blaine and I decided to work together, she is the expert at video and my battery was charged up the most so I gave her my battery. Having her do the video allowed me to focus on taking photos. Kimberley also produced "A Byte Out of Life" video's for a site I am a Co-Founder of: Silicon Valley Moms Group . Here is the video she took using her Sony HDR-CX100:

Video by TheGoToMom

While I had some excellent training from the Sony Digital Imaging team and the inspiring Me Ra Koh (who finally helped me learn how to use the Aperature settings), I still have lots of learn about photography. I knew that things would be moving fast on the red carpet so I used the automatic setting - which did the work for me.


Here is another picture of the Writing/Directing team (left to right) Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Although Phil Lord said "Mom Bloggers rock" to us when we saw him, we were already in agreement that he and Chris Miller "rocked".


Here is a picture of Anna Faris (voice of Sam Sparks). I also livetweeted a picture of Anna Faris and other celebs from my phone using a moblie Twitter app. Anna Faris was so friendly when she passed us on the red carpet - even though I yelled "Anna look here, I am live tweeting". I started to feel like paparazzi.


Bill Hader(who plays the voice of Flint Lockwood) was being interviewed by Access Hollywood. I decided to capture a behind the scenes look.

We had the chance to interview both Bill Hader and Anna Faris at press rounds the day before. They were both interesting, funny and articulate as they shared their "inner geek" with us. Anna Faris' love of reading started when she was a child, but she also was interested in bugs. Bill Hader could not get enough of watching films as a child. Both explained that their parents support helped them follow their own passions. Support that included driving them around to multiple activities - something that made all the moms in the room feel good because they spend so much time driving their kids around. We also interviewed Bobb'e J Thompson, who is the voice for Carl Devereaux, with his mom in the room. He was so well composed and mature for someone his age as he suggested these hints to kids:  "Don't give up" and "Show your parents love". Maybe I melted just a little bit when he said show your parents love.

The other main characters are Neil Patrick Harris as Steve The Monkey , Mr. T as town cop Earl Devereaux, James Caan as the voice of Flint's father Tim, Andy Samberg added his comedic timing as the voice of Baby Brent,  Bruce Campbell as Mayor Shelbourne, Benjamin Bratt as Manny and Al Roker as a the weatherman. Comedy style "behind the scenes" YouTube videos were made of Andy Samburg, Neil Patrick Harris and Bill Hader.


One of the Sony team snapped this picture of us taking pictures of Neil Patrick Harris.


Miranda Cosgrove, or as kids/tweens/teens around the world know her as "iCarly", sang the movie song "Raining Sunshine".


While the movie has a beautifully animated scene in a Jello palace, the red carpet had a palace made out of none other then "real" Jello!


Flying Food was not only one of the main attractions of the movie, but it made yummy decorations on the red carpet.


From left to right - Karen Bodkin, Amy Clark and Kristina Sauerwein ready to capture the red carpet action.


The on site Sony Digital Imaging team joined us on the red carpet and provided on the go tips. Left to right Chris Margaitis, Amy Koppmann, and Linda Barger.


The SonyMom team right before we covered the red carpet premiere of "Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs". Left to right - Kristina Sauerwein, Melinda Roberts, Amy Clark, Karen Bodkin, Darcy Cruwys, Kimberley Blaine, Monica Villa, Beth Blecherman and Cassie Boorn


I caught Kimberley Blaine looking for her next video shot.


Kimberley took a photo of TechMama (Beth Blecherman) in her attempt to put on a dress and look red carpet chic, instead of her daily mom-geek-blue-jeans-not-so-chic.

*Disclosure: TechMamas.com attended an all expense paid trip to Sony Picture Studios in Los Angeles on behalf of Sony Electronics to learn about Sony's digital Imaging products and the latest from Sony Pictures. Learn more about the event and the moms who attended by clicking here.

This is NOT a paid post. We were told at the SonyMom event that whether we blogged (and what we choose to write about) was our own choice. We did receive the Sony Handycam HDR-CX100 and the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX1 to take home with us.

After my epiphany about the movie - I decided to give the Sony Cybershot and my old camcorder to my 10 year old son. He is already taking the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX1 and my tripod with him to playdates - to shoot video of plays they create.  TechMama had to keep the Sony HDR-CX100 Camcorder to do videos of her own! More to come as I post in the upcoming weeks about my quest to learn photography and video techniques.


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What an incredible post about what must have been an amazing time! You are my hero! I'm so glad you were inspired to allow your son to embrace his passion. So many parents don't recognize their kids' loves and am so glad that this experienced helped you do so! I look forward to your posts about photography and video techniques...Perhaps your son could give you some tips! :)

I soooo loved hanging out with you, Beth!! It was such a treat to be with all of these amazing women. I feel so blessed!! Thank you for including me in your post!!

Wow, what an event!

Remember that J&J Youtube Channel you posted about recently. One of our movies is set to appear there in the coming weeks. I filmed my son doing a fun activity (can't ruin the suprise *wink*) and he pieced it together on Windows Movie Maker. This might be a fun way for your son to build his talents and make a little money. (I told my boys they'd get the lion's share of the money if they did most of the work. If I were nicer, maybe I'd pass it all along!)

If he decides to pursue this, tell him to be sure to avoid showing or mentioning any name brands--one lesson we learned.

Good luck!

Hey TechMama! Thanks for the great blog post! Between the pictures and your stories I almost felt like I was there. Were you shocked that @philiplord sent you a message! Twitter is a pretty amazing tool isn’t it?

So glad you enjoyed the Sony A330 DSLR. I had a quick look at the Sony Mom’s flickr group too and it seems like you ladies are having a great time. Thanks for sharing the event with us.

Sony Social Media Evangelist

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