Film Short: Five Starfish for Film Critic Perry Chen’s Q&A

Published On October 27, 2010 | By admin | film, Film Festival, film production, Film Short, Filmmaker, filmmaking, Independent Film

Perry Chen is 10 years old, an award winning artist and a successful movie reviewer in San Diego, California.   With the support of his mother Dr.  Zhu Shen, a savvy biotech consultant with great marketing skills, Perry has launched his own website, become a media darling and is now involved making animated films for children.   In fact, he recently won the San Diego Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism award, so I’m sure when you read this Q&A with him, you’ll have no problem giving it a five starfish rating.

As a writer, which review that you’ve done so far would you say has been your favorite? 

It’s hard to pick one review as my favorite.  I’ll give you my top four: 

“How to Train Your Dragon”  (I was the only child film critic invited to the press junket to interview the directors and voice talents, and I’m a “dragonologist!”) 

“The Secret of Kells” (Oscar-nominated animation feature in 2009, I love the story about art and human creativity, interviewed the director too) 

“The Fan and the Flower” (Bill Plympton’s award-winning animated short, the only animated short that I gave 5 starfish! It’s such a powerful and profound movie.  This film also connected me to Bill Plympton last year at Comic-Con, which led to our first collaboration on “Beyond the Forest.”)

“Up” (the first film I reviewed that won best animation Oscar, Golden Globe, and Annie Awards.  I interviewed director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera in person in May 2009, which was featured in my CBS Evening News with Katie Couric feature the same month!)

How did you come up with the Starfish rating system? 

My mom and I thought the Starfish rating system is more fun and kids-friendly than the generic, boring stars that adult critics use.  Indeed, people love it! 

You are interested in writing, films, animation, art and music.  Have you given any thought as to which area you enjoy the most? 

Art, because it gives me the most freedom to create and imagine. 

Looking ahead, what types of film projects interest you most? 

Animation!  I hope to work on more animation films after I finish my first, “Beyond the Forest,” a 5-min short about a young Jewish girls survival during the Holocaust, in partnership with Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton. 

What do you like most about attending the film festivals? 

Perry at the Cyrus Red Carpet

Interviewing filmmakers on the red carpet and learning about what made their films special.  Mom and I often made friends with directors and producers after our interviews. Sometimes I get special treatment, like the time when the stars from Cyrus called me to join them on stage during the Q&A after their LA Film Festival premiere! Watching films at festival premieres is exciting: packed theatre, movie buffs, filmmakers’ direct interaction with the audience. 

Aside from film, what other interests do you have? 

I have lots of other interests: making art (drawing, making origami, tin foiled sculpture, etc), reading, writing and telling stories, science, gardening, exploring nature (going to the San Diego Zoo, nature walks with mom), cooking and dining (I write restaurant reviews and cooked for my mom on Mother’s Day!) 

Since you and your Mom are so close, what do you value most about her support for your plans and projects?

I most enjoy spending time with my mom.  I love going to movies and discussing them with her.  Even though my mom doesn’t write movie reviews, I think she is a “Perrific” critic, I learned a lot about how to review movies and what to look for from her.  My mom is open-minded, adventurous, with an intellectual curiosity which I inherited.  I most value her nurturing my talents in different areas (art, writing, animation) from an early age.  She saved over 1,000 drawings I’ve done since age 3!  She taught me that you’re never too young to start and that there is no limit to what I can achieve if I believe in myself.  Another great lesson I learned from her is the importance of persistence and finishing what I started.

What advice would you give other young people who are trying to figure out what their special talents are? 

Try different things that you enjoy doing for a period of time, then you’ll figure out what you enjoy the most and are good at.  Connect with experts in those areas and learn about the trade.

For more information about Perry or to read his reviews visit his website at or follow him on Twitter @perryspreviews.  You can also check out his recent article in Variety at

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