Ralph is the Next Scorsese

January 6, 2011

Flip camera and boy Ralph Blair

Remember our discussion about the wonders of videochat? Well, the folks at Intel AppUp℠ saw Ralph’s Christmas video and asked me another question: Do we encourage Ralph to use technology to develop his producing/directing interests?

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: In case you didn’t notice the five thousand times I’ve mentioned it, Ralph is way into film. Seriously. He is deeply interested in everything about it. He finds out about every major movie in production. What the basic story line is. What the rating is. What the reviews are projected to be. He studies the actors and actresses and learns about other roles they’ve played. If we’re watching a movie with Ralph and mention a funny line or a beautiful shot, he immediately looks up who wrote the line or art directed the scene. He’s been passionate about film for several years now, and we do our best to encourage him and help him develop his talents. Technology plays a big role. Here are three examples:

1) We let him open a YouTube Account when he turned 13 — you can find Ralph’s YouTube page here). He tries to post a new movie or movie review vlog that he’s made every couple of weeks. My favorite so far is Lemonade Stand. (We also let him open a Facebook account when he turned 13 and he uses it to promote his movies. Such a great way for a budding artist to get immediate positive feedback. Apps for both Facebook and YouTube are available on Intel AppUp℠.)

2) We make sure he has access to movie editing software. He mostly uses iMovie, but has also worked on Final Cut Pro. There are lots of different options available, but I can vouch for both of these.

3) He received a green screen in his stocking. It’s not really a green screen, it’s just six yards of the least expensive cotton broadcloth Santa could find. But Ralph’s already had a great time experimenting with it. You can see his first published green screen movie here. I love Oscar’s first line: Let’s let the bravest ones go first!

What about you? Do your kids have interests that depend on technology? Do you encourage them to use technology or do you prefer a low-tech approach?

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ginger January 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

I’m a fairly recent follower, but I just love your blog… just had to leave a note to say.


2 bdaiss January 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Love it! Go Ralph!

So far the 4 year old is pretty low-tech. Although he loves playing games on my ipod touch. A habit he acquired after my husband was frustrated with his Droid disappearing. (Like Father like Son.) Being only 4 we keep screen time pretty scarce. The iPod is a treat. But maybe someday he’ll be more like Mama and about all things movie (instead of like Papa – about all things Sports). Only time will tell!


3 teresiux January 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I’m a web designer and I don’t have any kids yet, but my 11 yr old brother asked me if I could teach him how to make a website (he spent a couple days with us during Christmas). I taught him some basic HTML and inline CSS and bought him a domain name. He had a blast! He’s still making changes, adding pages and embedding silly games to his website. I’m so proud of him!!


4 Andrea January 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I am very new to this blogging thing. Recently started reading your blog and I just love it. I think its great that Ralph has such a passion at a young age. And whats even better is he has parents who will encourage and nurture this passion. My son, who is 8, plays a little on the computer and with his digital camera/camcorder but nothing major. I only wish I new more about technology so I could teach him because he learns everything so fast.


5 Haley January 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Please tell Ralph “dudette” may be the French spelling for dudet.


6 Robin Kendall January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I was just thinking the other day he will be the next Spielberg!


7 Heidi January 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

He is quite talented! I love the lemonade stand video!


8 Connie Z. January 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

As a high school art teacher, here’s my input.

If a student says they’re interested in film, I mostly encourage them to just be as productive and industrious as possible. If they have access to technology, go for it. If they have access to editing software, go for it. Learning to take well composed digital photos of any kind are valuable. Do they have an interest in clay mation or stop action? go for it. Drawing, especially story boarding, which looks a lot like Manga, that can be great experience too.

When it comes to students applying for colleges, what they really want to see is that a kid is prolific. Special skills and knowledge of programs are a plus, but lack of funds for these things aren’t held against them.


9 Lori January 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm

So fun! I’m pretty sure a green screen is the coolest thing ever found in a stocking. :) Our kids went through a big kick making stop-motion films awhile back…watching Ralph’s movies makes me wish we’d spent Christmas break working on an epic!


10 amanda January 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm

has you son heard of the funny movie making genius Julian Smith (juliansmith.tv)? i’m sure he would LOVE julian’s videos


11 Gandhali January 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Haha, I just watched the Tangled review, totally cute when Oscar wanted to show everyone his light saber!!


12 julie g January 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

my kids have a “flip”video recorder and my 12 y/o loves photographing vintage and ball jointed dolls. My 18 y/o likes classic photography and borrowing my digital SLR.
Here is something I am sure Ralph would enjoy, I work in media and I heard about this last year: National Film Festival for Talented Youth, it’s an annual conference and festival. http://www.nffty.org/


13 Erica January 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I love this – so important to encourage kids’ artistic creativity. I bet he’s having a blast. My guy is into photography and takes pictures constantly – he’s getting my old camera soon :)


14 Jen January 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

we do encourage technology. I work in educational technology & teach internet safety- they get to (have to) hear every lecture I give to students first! I like using PhotoStory3- I encourage the creative, imaginative story creation first- then capturing it in digital images & setting them all to music or narrating their movie. I love the pictures they stage & the excitement of 3 siblings working together! My fave is where a giant stuffed money saves a one-armed barbie from a host of problems :)


15 UpsideUp January 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Ralph is the luckiest kid ever to have you and Ben Blair for parents.


16 Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves January 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Oh my goodness… I just watched the Christmas video with my (only child son) and he said. “I think that’s an orphanage mommy.” Why I asked…. “Because of all those kids.”

Poor sheltered soul.

Great stuff!


17 Tavianna January 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Wow! My 12 year old would love to have Ralph live next door! All of your points of interest intersect my son’s to a tee. Only, we haven’t yet decided if we want to open the flood gates on such above mentioned accounts. His percentage of hard drive space on my husband’s laptop is insane! He’s just made the leap from iMovie to Final Cut Pro. To me, letting him use technology isn’t the problem it’s the inspiration that I seem to have to keep an eye on. So many topics on YouTube that he has learned to browse take a violence is funny approach. Which is a shame for kids who are clearly talented. But I love the sheer enjoyment watching him making movies! The green screen is going on the birthday list and a HD video recorder of his very own. At our house it’s “Nicholas is the next Bruckheimer”! Just as long as all his siblings continue to enjoy being the obviously under paid actors!


18 Sarah January 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm

That’s great that you’re encouraging him! He must be having a blast. I always wanted to have a video camera when I was younger and it’s so cool that anybody can own one now even if it’s just on your phone! These flip cameras and HD iPhone videos and DSLRs are starting a revolution in the film industry.

As a filmmaker myself, I’d say that he should get on set as soon as he’s old enough. It’s the best experience he can have. It’s very different from what you’d expect. Definitely hard work, much less glamorous. But it’s all about who you know so getting in early is key!



19 kristi January 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Ralph totally rocks! And so do his siblings – love their enthusiasm!


20 courtney January 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

That’s awesome for Ralph!! My husband is a filmmaker and currently works as a film editor– he used Final Cut Pro and Avid. That’s great you facilitate his interest at such a young age. He’s getting a great head start learning the technology and ins-and-outs so he’ll really be cutting edge. Go Ralph!


21 bekah January 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This is SO great! I love how your kiddos are so into being part of Ralph’s films. I have four siblings and we had so much fun with the videocamera. The highlight was one summer where we reenacted scenes from The Princess Bride. Of course this was before digital film so we just have take after take after take (or should I say outtake) on VHS. What wonderful memories.

It blows my mind to imagine what technology my kids (now 2 and 4 months) will have at their fingertips when they are Ralph’s age!


22 Heidi January 7, 2011 at 12:21 am

Ralph’s green screen movie is great!


23 LLH Designs January 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

I love hearing about another child’s passion and am proud of you for encouraging it! I’m not a fan of technology for the sake of “being cool” or frittering away countless hours that a child could otherwise use developing their passion, but when technology is a tool for executing your passion, I’m all for it! My oldest is a singer/songwriter/guitar player. She’s extremely passionate and serious about it, so she’s had an iPod, a recording device and access to the computer for learning more about music since she was 7. She’s matured a TON in her musical gifts with those things. She’s very focused and purposeful with her use of technology, and it sounds like your son is, too.

By the way, I can’t stop thinking about France!



24 Hannah Stevenson January 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm

WOW! That was so fun to watch. What a cool group of kiddos! Ralph reminds me of my brother (who now provides for his family by composing music for movies ) at that age…completely passionate about the field and how everything works. I’ll never forget the Christmas break when all five of us kids made the coolest star trek movie ever using a milk carton for the ship. It was epic….believe me!


25 SAJ January 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I think it’s beautiful that you are encouraging and supporting your sons interest with such enthusiasm and passion as he has. My 2 year old definitely has an interest in technology I think . . . at least he loves all the buttons on cell phones, lap tops and is over the moon about his remote control cars. I’ll have to take tips from you on how to feed that interest as he grows.


26 Christy January 8, 2011 at 6:45 am

love love love his chirstmas movie, so do my 5 children everytime i play it they all come running. It gives me chills like i’m a kid again and can’t wait for christmas. I wanted to know what the name of the song and who it was by that he used, my oldest (9) asked. Keep up the great work Ralph!


27 esperanza b January 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

I want to be a mother like you!!


28 Kela January 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

My 13 year old son is into the very same thing. He loves to research and write reviews for films and even film and edit his reviews for a blog that he’s currently nurturing. I whole heartedly encourage it and feed him my knowledge about blogging along the way. Glad to hear you’re doing the same thing with Ralph. Maybe our boys will work together someday. You never know.



29 Julie April 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm

so funny:) I followed your lead and checked out some of Ralphs videos and my favorite was the one that showed your trip to your new home in France…I smiled all the way through it. That Betty is something else…what a cutie. xoxoj


30 P.B. Lecron at A French Education April 4, 2011 at 3:10 am

That’s what I call good grooming…of your child’s intelligence and aptitudes. Good work, parents!


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