The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

IMDb: Internet Movie Database.

IMDb is the Internet Movie Database. It is the world's greatest cache of film and tv information. If the information you seek is related to film or tv, it is likely to be on IMDb.

Two or three months ago, I accidentally stumbled on the fact that someone had started an IMDb page, for my son, Ainan Celeste Cawley. This was because of an appearance of his, on tv, in the UK. It was probably the production company that started a page for him. Now, every actor who has ever worked in television or film, in a serious way, has an IMDb listing. IMDb has become the way that the public and the industry alike find out more about an actor, a writer, a director, a producer, a lighting man etc. Although, the industry tends to subscribe for extra information, by getting IMDbPro.

Perhaps I should have expected Ainan Celeste Cawley to have an IMDb listing...but I didn't. It never occurred to me. It wasn't long before I had one too...and my wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley.

Now, some of you may know that I have been an actor, in my time. I have worked in theatre, tv and film. So, looking at my IMDb listing, all shiny, new and with few credits, I thought to fill it up with the many eligible credits (at least 15) that would fit the rules of inclusion. These rules are simple: if many people have seen it or could see it, if they wanted to, then it is possible it might be included. This means, basically, that the film or tv show has been broadcast nationally in at least one country, or it has been subject to widespread cinema release. Minimally, it is possible to get a short film listed if it has been shown at various prestigious film festivals, though it is probably harder to do so, than for the other categories. What these rules mean, however, is that quite a lot of an actor's work cannot ever be included. No theatre is accepted, for instance - and many films that actors do, end up never getting wide enough distribution to be counted as eligible. So, discounting the categories that cannot be included, I have about 15 more credits that should be listed. There, however, the problem begins.

IMDb is very, very choosy. It doesn't take long to realize that getting a listing on IMDb is a BIG thing. I thought, rather naively, to try to upload a couple of my tv credits over two months ago. This process involves providing very detailed information about the film. They ask for full cast and crew details. They ask for technical issues like what camera was used (I hadn't a clue), or how long is it, what "aspect ratio" it was and so on. They enquire after the production dates (when it shot or would shoot) and who owns it. They query one on producers and production companies and the distribution arrangements. I think you get the picture: the questions are endless for each and every show you would like to list. So, here's what happens at IMDb: you input all the information you have to hand (which can take ages, given the menu system they use), then you wait. Almost invariably, a week or so later, they email me with a standard form letter that says: "We have been busy and haven't looked at your submission yet...but please provide more information to allow it to be considered." So, then, you scrabble around for some more information (in my case this involved writing to the production company a polite letter) and upload it. A week later, you get the same reply: "We have been busy and haven't looked at your submission yet...but please provide more information to allow it to be considered." There then ensues ANOTHER letter to the production company asking for even more information (with a slight begging tone, this time). The information is uploaded and the wait begins again. Guess what? A week later, they send an email saying: "We have been busy..."

For BOTH of the tv credits I tried to upload, this went on for two months. Finally, a few days ago, one of them was accepted. My role as Stanley Warren, in A War Diary (a tv series made in Singapore by Dreamforest Productions) was finally listed: yippee! For those who don't know much about Singaporean history, Stanley Warren was an artist interned in a prison camp, (Changi Prison) during World War II. He is famous because, despite the terrible conditions inside the camp, he managed to paint five murals on a religious theme, in St. Luke's Chapel, Changi Prison during his imprisonment. So, I was playing a real historical character, who really lived in Singapore, at one time (he died in 1992): it was an interesting role and a great responsibility. I even had to paint, on camera, one of the murals he made (a recreated version).

So, I have had one success in uploading IMDb credits. The other credit I have been trying is a tv show executive produced by a well known producer, in Singapore...but still I am having trouble getting a listing...they keep making that same request for more information. I kept on writing letters to the production company. Finally, the production company told me that they had given me ALL the information they had on the show. I told IMDb this and, guess what? They asked for more information. I have answered them, and am presently waiting for their decision.

Now, that I have tried to upload credits to IMDb, I have come to realize just how difficult it is to do so. I have come, therefore, to appreciate what it means when an actor actually HAS credits on IMDb. It means that their work has been screened, checked and verified (as IMDb does to all entries). It means that their work has received wide distribution and is of public interest. It means, basically, that the work is a solid achievement and, to my eyes, given the difficulty of securing a listing, worthy of respect.

I have fifteen credits waiting to be uploaded. It won't be easy. For each one, I will have to contact the production companies and secure the answers to scores of questions. If the companies don't help, I will never be able to upload the information. Even if they do, I will face months of "back and forth" and waiting for each one. Even then, there is no guarantee that I will ever be able to satisfy IMDb on a listing. It may all be fruitless.

Why do it, then? Well, the film and tv industry have come to value IMDb highly. It is where they go to find out about artists. If an artist's work is NOT listed on IMDb, it may as well not have been done - for it will not benefit the artist in any way, in terms of securing future work. Thus, an IMDb listing is, in fact, essential to the long-term future of any creative in any aspect of tv or film. That is why I think I should try to list my work, even though it is going to take a lot of work to do so.

My IMDb listing is just beginning. I write this post in celebration that I have managed to achieve my first acting credit on it. I have another fifteen credits to upload. Though there are two other credits on it, in other areas, already.

If you would like to look at my IMDb listing (which may get longer at any time after this post is written, since I will be trying to upload my work, over time) please go to:

As I write, the listing is new and brief - however, by the time you read this it might have a dozen or a score of please do take a look.

My son, Ainan Celeste Cawley, also has an IMDb listing. His is found at:

My wife, Syahidah Osman Cawley, has a listing as well. Hers is found at:

Thank you. I have found IMDb a very useful and fun resource...I hope you do, too. Happy reading.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

We are the founders of Genghis Can, a copywriting, editing and proofreading agency, that handles all kinds of work, including technical and scientific material. If you need such services, or know someone who does, please go to: Thanks.

This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication prohibited. Use Only with Permission. Thank you.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:41 AM 


Blogger Ryan said...

Hi Valentine,

I am working on a documentary idea for a class project. I find you and your family very interesting and am curious if you would like to be part of the film. It is to be 6 to 7 min long production that I would be shooting over the course of a couple of days. I have worked in the television news business in Canada for several years and am currently living in Singapore. If you and your family would be interested or would like to hear my ideas please write me at my email address.


10:20 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Ryan,

Thank you for your comment and your proposal. However, you present me with a problem: you never left your email address at I can't mail you. If you would like to be mailed, you must leave your address...


10:39 PM  

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