Nellie Bly Makes The News/Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story, Short Cut Review

As we continue with our Dallas Docufest coverage, we’re on to a family friendly women empowerment story about a lady who help define such a term and the life of a creative British comedian who never made it to mainstream. Let’s take a look!

Nellie Bly Makes The News (Directed By Penny Lane)


In this Nellie Bly story, we have sort of half-documentary, half-biopic, all animated short, running for about 23 minutes. Nellie Bly was a female journalist back in the old times before women were given the right to vote. That didn’t stop our strong-willed lady from fighting all kinds of sexism along with the general climate in the later 1800s. How did she accomplish her message? Why, by telling those sexist individuals that a woman can be a journalist too by reporting all around the world in 72 days.

Yes, to fans of that corny Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan adventure from 2004 (or the Chipmunks back when they were cool. I seriously would have loved if she had a response to all these movies in this biopic), this woman inspired a classic male-starred story that we know of today, except she did it in 8 days less than everyone else.

Not only that, she reported other extraordinary events like a mental institution, but creating a new kind of journalism by investigating these happenings from a first-person perspective. If you call yourself a feminist or woman empowerment supporter, you better not ignore this lady.

Where I make the remarks of “family friendly” is how it’s structured. Nellie Bly of course has been dead for 96 years, but this short gives a “what-if” Nellie was alive today, being interviewed by a modern woman journalist with technology everywhere in the room. What brings in the live doc element is at certain points, a historian by the name of Brooke Kroeger will chime in, letting you know which is the character and which is a currently alive person.

The tone of the voice-work, animation style and dialogue is pretty much aimed at kids, like a decent PBS kids program, back when they weren’t afraid to touch on serious subjects.

I mean there’s one point where Nellie leaves out a curse word for her frustration, but not enough to where you look at this short like it’s focused towards adults. Listen, if LEGO can drop a curse-word in their doc and still be kid-friendly, I don’t see how this shouldn’t be viewed by a young audience.

Looking at Nellie Bly Makes The Story, I see it working the same way. Both kids and their parents can watch this to be educated by how important this woman was to civil rights for both genders. Nellie set the foundation for where we are today with females running things and committing incredible achievements. I’m friends with woman who run businesses, travel around the world to teach robotics or game design, even film and act, so this story means a lot.

Miss Bly was an origin story for how woman are shaping the world today in various creative ways. I think this short is a great educational film that can works for several age demographics, if a bit cheesy. I do like the idea of using newspaper cut-outs for the artistic flare.

Unfortunately in motion, the animation looks like one of those “How It Should Have Ended” videos, which, along with the tone, might play into why this works more for kids than adults, even if there’s enough in there for a grown-figure to not feel irritated or bored through. Though, since it’s a cartoon, I can easily look past the silliness of interviewing a century-old lady with a shotgun mic and HD digital cameras.

Nellie Bly Makes The Story is a cute re-telling of an amazing story and deserves to be a good watch with a whole family, especially the females.


Hey Alvin, you want to tell us where you got your adventure idea from???

…I should stop comparing these two.

Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story (Directed By Steve Sullivan)


Chris Sievey was like any bold creative who would take daring challenges to pushing their own talent. He went from starting a Beatles-inspired band called The Freshies late 70s-early 80s, only to push it aside once his comic character, Frank Sidebottom took away the attention from the band, once started as a disguised fanboy for the band he help start, then singlehandedly tore down.

From this point on, Chris became in-love with his comedy act, mainly from the fan base he was getting. Frank Sidebottom would later consume the man becoming someone who is more concerned about his fame than anything, including his health. It’s a tragic story about what an alter ego can do to you in the long run, no matter how many smiles you’re able to crack.

The thing is, I don’t even think he made it overseas towards the US, Asia or anywhere outside of the United Kingdom. His fame stayed where he lived, making this extremely depressing. I mean the humor you get are scenes with Frank Sidebottom in comedy routines or shows, bringing in great improv, but it gets hard to look past and laugh, knowing it destroyed him to get others cheerful.

Chris got so crazy with this gig that introducing a side-character would make him nervous if the new cast member were to receive any love on-par to Frank Sidebottom. It’s a scary tale of fame, brought to you by those who knew him as Chris Sievery. Some of us like to look at celebrities or industry vets like they’ve got it all, when this man, who got his character into doing local commercials and TV shows, including one that resonates with the sports people out there.

Us americans who are into FIFA would have missed the Sidebottom cameo in this advertisement, but over there where the sport is home to, some folks have probably gone crazy over that papier-mache man’s dance. So with this comedy character receiving so much love, it’s easy for some to glance over the well-being of the main behind the costume.

Being Frank: The Chris Sievery Story is an effective documentary to prove that being famous is not always a good thing, regardless how talented you might be. We live in a world where people are riding on internet challenges or doing crazy things to get a like, and every single person who is trying too hard to push for a fanbase absolutely needs to see this.

I don’t care if your work is that good, it’s not worth at the sacrifice of human health. Being Frank is a “Must-Watch” doc for being an important life lesson on knowing self-worth!


If you know a friend who has a fan-following, don’t be afraid to look after them when needed. Your health is more important than your work!



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