“Ah but it is,” was Spencer Kossatz’s first line of the film. Even at the audition and without direction, he delivered it in a French accent. “I was amazed at his spontaneity,” says producer/director Michael Breeding. “It was obvious that was his signature line for the film so I dare not give it to one of the other children.”
“When Spencer was younger, I used to read stories to him in different accents,” says Spencer’s mom Tammy Kossatz. “Spencer grew up mimicking any voice or character he heard. After reading the full script, Spencer became well informed regarding the French influences found in the architecture of the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion. All it took was for him to see the word France for him to don his French interpretation.”
“At first, the children stumbled on the term beaux-arts,” said Breeding. “In time, they easily fixed their pronunciations and read the French term like professionals.”
In total, 40-plus children from throughout the commonwealth participated in the children’s film about the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion.
“One of the Governor’s Mansion Centennial Committee’s goals was to educate the commonwealth’s youth on the significance of our mansion througt a children’s film,” says David Buchta, director and state curator at the state Division of Historic Properties.
“It was important for the production to cover the social, architectural and political history of the Governor’s Mansion in a manner which children would understand. We had no idea Michael would use children in such a clever manner.”
“The concept for the children’s version was to use children as narrators,” says Michael Breeding. “I’ve seen how child actors can bring a story to life especially when the end audience is children. For me, it was important that the film cover a lot of information in an understandable format. Yet, it needed to be fun, hip and produced in manner children can relate to. We must remember, children these days watch a lot of TV and YouTube videos. To get their attention, we must use techniques they understand.”
Initial interest for The Forcht Group to fund the mansion documentary and children’s film came from Marion Forcht.
“Through my experience on the Historic Properties Commission, I have been made aware of many opportunities,” says Marion Forcht. “When David Buchta first mentioned the need to produce a series of centennial films, it seemed to me to be a perfect fit since I love Kentucky, Kentucky history and have a passion to help preserve the mansion. The results have been wonderful.”
Diane Sawyer, a Kentucky native and ABC World News anchor along with the voice-over talent of Connie Terwilliger of San Diego are interspersed throughout. “For every project, the idea is to add as much interest as possible,” notes Breeding. “And having over 46 voices in the film keeps the pace and interest at a high level – add some fancy effects and cool music, and you have the beginnings of something really special. It was a lot of work but well worth the effort.”
Auditions for the film were held in January 2014 and represent a diverse group of children from throughout Kentucky but due to inclement weather, production for the film was postponed until April. The children were filmed against green screen to offer flexibility and creativity during the post-production phase of the production process. With green screen technology, filmmakers and TV producers can create all kinds of interesting backdrops. The best example of green screen from everyday life is the weather person on the evening news. He/She stands in front of a green wall. A computer can tune into the green color and replace every green pixel with a pixel from another image. Of course, if the weather guy happens to wear something green, the computer will perform its magic there too, creating a hole in the person.
The children’s film will premiere this summer at the Academy for Integration of the Arts, Social Studies, and Creative Writing – sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and KET. The goal is to develop lesson plans aligned with Kentucky standards in the classroom. “This creative children’s film will broaden students’ knowledge about one of the state’s iconic landmarks as well other elements of Kentucky history,” notes Mary Ann Miller, Policy Advisor, Kentucky Department of Education. “The chapter-like, motivational format makes it a great resource for classroom use and we are pleased to provide it as a teaching tool for teachers’ use.”
Links to both the children’s film and the documentary now airing on KET will be made available to the teachers in Kentucky along with a special webpage provided by Michael Breeding Media.
To view the children’s film about the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, go to https://vimeo.com/96734722.
The Kentucky Governor’s Mansion children’s film is presented by The Forcht Group of Kentucky, Forcht Bank, My Favorite Things, Kentucky National Insurance Company and First Financial Credit.