Last August, I got a call from a friend and producer, Steph Huske. She told me about a 5-year-old girl who’d been battling leukemia and wanted to make a cartoon that might help other kids going through the same thing. Steph was helping Make-A-Wish find a production company to create an animation for Alexis’s wish. She told me that after hearing about Alexis’s wish, she knew World Famous would be the perfect fit. Boy, was she right.
When I heard about Alexis and her wish to make a cartoon and read her story, I knew instantly we just had to do it. What a perfect opportunity to harness our talent and skills for the power of good! We get to create a meaningful film, make a little girl’s wish come true and produce a piece that would be used by educators and care-givers to help other children with cancer? Perfect! We’re in! Where do we sign? When can we start?!!
Collaborating with Alexis
The first step was inviting Alexis and her family to World Famous. We wanted to hear directly from her about her vision. The writing took a while. We had many rounds of story explorations. And several talented writers donated their skills to the process.
Once we had the Princess Alexis and Kemia-dragon concept, we shared it with Alexis and were delighted when she approved the direction! We wanted to make sure Alexis felt fully involved in the creation of her film. So we created a “paper-doll” type activity where Alexis could mix-and-match colors and outfits for her animated character. Using our 3D printer, we created a to-scale prototype of her magic wand including different, ornate pieces she could choose from to design her favorite wand. It was pretty fantastic to see Alexis engaged and having so much fun directing.
Unifying World Famous
Alexis’ wish helped unify the World Famous creative team in ways I never expected. We often bond as a team when working late nights together on projects but this experience was something deeper. The level of camaraderie and selfless cooperation in the studio was at an all-time high. The enthusiasm to do whatever it takes to make the piece great was infectious. We even had freelancers volunteering their time because they too understood it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Alexis.
As we’re going full-bore on Alexis' wish, we’re also busy producing spots to pay the bills. The team worked many late nights and entire weekends in order to get the film done in time for the event. Thankfully the artists’ families were very supportive and understood the importance of the project. The understanding and encouragement of the artists’ families was key.
The day of the event finally arrives!
We were all very excited (and sleep-deprived) on the day of the event. We’d been looking forward to this day for over a year. And finally we’re here! The world premiere of Alexis' wish was complete with a red carpet, paparazzi and circus performers for Princess Alexis. The Cinerama is one of the most magnificent movie theaters in the country. And it was packed! Even the film’s narrator actress, Jamie Chung ,flew in for the event while her wedding was only seven days away. You can see how that spirit of selflessness surrounding Alexis’s wish was infectious.
After too long of a speech (by yours truly - whoops) we finally rolled the film for the packed theater. It was a very proud moment for myself and everyone at World Famous. The film is full of emotion and hope. It is a touching and beautifully animated story that speaks to the power of family and love. The audience cheered, people cried and Alexis covered her ears. “Let’s watch it again!”
It was a privilege to be part of something that has the potential to help children and their families cope with something so difficult Requests for the short film have come in from around the world by organizations intending to use it for the benefit of children with cancer in their communities. All the people at World Famous are proud of the piece, proud of Alexis for being so brave and strong battling Kemia, and we’re incredibly thrilled that Alexis’ wish will continue to help children and families in explaining the experience of a child dealing with cancer. This whole experience has been a gift for everyone at World Famous. Thank you, Alexis, and everyone at Make-A-Wish for this amazing life experience.
Special thanks to wish-granting volunteers Monica Shih and Jamie Ruppert, World Famous, Cinerama, Seattle Sounders FC, Gary Manuel Salon, Revolution Marketing, Jamie Chung, Bayview Limousines, Macy’s, Seattle Children’s Theater, Tri-Film, Ronald Yeh Photography, Warwick Hotel, Pederson’s Rentals and Ramona Wood.
If you liked this blog post, you can read more about Alexis at the Make-A-Wish Alaska & Washington website and read Ben's story about creating a cancer-fighting video game.