15-year-old Redding Movie Reviewer Wins Worldwide Contest

Robert Burke, behind the scenes where he produces his movie reviews.

Q: Hey, Robert, I know you’re a busy guy, what with producing your movie reviews that appear here on aNewsCafe.com, going to school and doing homework, your “Oliver!” play practice … and, did I forget anything else?

A:  I also play tenor saxophone for the concert band and jazz band at my school, write short films, and spend a lot of time researching film and box office results. I do live quite the busy life! (But I love it.)

Q: I’m glad you love what you do, but seriously, you need more hours in a day, or a personal assistant. I have a few things I wanted to talk with you about. First thank you to you and your dad who came over this weekend in an attempt to teach me how to do videos. Oh my gosh. You make it look so easy, but my head’s spinning, especially regarding the editing process. Will I ever learn this? What a steep learning curve I have. It really made me appreciate how much goes into every one of your video movie reviews. I truly don’t know how you do it.

Along those lines, readers may recall the Q&A you and I did last year when you first joined aNewsCafe.com, but for those who missed it, they can click here to read that article. But to date, how many video review have you done since you started at age – what – 10?

A: I believe I was around 11 when I uploaded my first review, and since then, I have probably uploaded around 500-600 reviews for different films.

Q: Ten, 11, whatever. Between 500 and 600 reviews since then still boggles my mind!

Actually, you’ve gained quite a reputation for your movie reviews, something you put a lot of work and research into, but you also speak your mind freely, which is what makes your reviews so interesting. So I heard you’ve been invited as a guest on Carl and Linda Bott’s KCNR Free Fire Radio program early Thursday to talk about the Oscars. Can you give us a hint of highlights?

A: Well, I don’t want to give too much away because I will be uploading a 50 minute video on Saturday to ANewsCafe discussing all categories relating to feature length films. I will say that you should watch out for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “The Shape of Water” to rack up some wins.

Q: Wow. A 50-minute video. Cool. Thank you! (And I loved “Three Billboards…” It was one of my all-time favorites.)

Now, the second reason I wanted to talk with you is because your dad, Mike Burke, was bragging about you, something about fantasy films, or a fantasy movie theater or fantasy film studio, or something like that. Forgive me. I know it’s the movie version of Fantasy Football. Before I wreck it anymore, why don’t you just explain it, please?

A: Well, Doni, the game is called Fantasy Movie League. It is very similar to Fantasy Football. Essentially, you are given $1000 a week (in virtual money) to distribute eight films into eight different theaters in your cineplex. Each film has a different price, and you must try to choose a combination of the eight best films to win the week.

Q: OK, so this is a worldwide competition of sorts, right? Why don’t you go ahead and take it from there, and tell what happened.

A: For four weeks there was a competition where, who ever won first place in the overall rankings, would win $1,000. After four weeks of weighing and analyzing data, I emerged on top and won $1,000.

Q: You won! Congratulations! Out of the entire world! Robert! That’s awesome! You won some money, but I imagine the honor of winning in a worldwide contest had to be really exciting. What was your strategy?

A: It was a combination of studying and analyzing data and pure luck. There are a lot of complex algorithms that go into the patterns of box office numbers, but it came down to last second deciding over which play would be the best.

Q: That leaves me kind of speechless. But I think you are being too modest to give much credit to pure luck. I have a hunch that much of what made you a success was your knowledge. Very impressive, Robert.

I know you’re busy, but I have just one question. Robert, in a few years when you’re famous, and you’re pulling up in front of the Oscars in a limo (with your parents, Mike and Roxanne Burke, of course), do you promise to remember Redding? Could you – would you mind – just look at the camera and do a little wink or a wave, or something as a sign that you’ve not forgotten your home town?

A: Tell you what Doni, if I ever win an Academy Award, I will mention ANewsCafe in my speech.

Q: You just made my day, Robert. That’s a deal! Happy first anniversary on aNewsCafe.com, and thank you for doing such an awesome job. Good luck on Carl and Linda’s show (not that you’ll need it), and congratulations on winning the grand prize in the Fantasy Movie League.

Enjoy the successes. You’ve earned every one.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.

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