The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

CMF Virtual Coffee Mornings (and Evenings)


CMF Executive member for Industry Liaison Martin Franks savours the satisfying aroma of the CMF's Industry Virtual Coffee Mornings

We’ve now had four Industry Liaison Zoom Coffee Mornings (or Evenings – bring your own coffee….)

They started in June with Jocelyn Stevenson and Anne Brogan, then July with Kay Benbow and Mikael Shields, all as our honoured guests. And then as our guests brought so much interesting information with them, we decided to try just having one guest this Autumn.  So in September we were lucky to have Gary Pope leading the discussions and in October it was the turn of Chitra Soundar. The topics for discussion across all three sessions have been wide-reaching, as were the range of people attending. We’ve had quite a number of kids’ media producers including Games specialists but also voice studio engineers, casting directors, agents and storytellers, retired producers, academics and teachers. Anyone interested in and concerned about the vast array of media that UK kids now consume, from whatever angle, is welcome.

In June we had a long discussion about starting TV productions from books – something platforms seem increasingly to prefer; as getting brands to cut through becomes more and more difficult, so original concepts launching on the screen becomes more difficult.  Both Jocelyn and Anne talked about current projects. This segued into discussions about literacy and screen viewing – and the complementary value of both. Then we looked at the role of hard-pressed parents and how the screen experience benefits from parental involvement but with a recognition also that kids need their own space especially as they age; so making it safe is obviously a key issue. Then we moved on to Tik Tok and the "lost art" of curation with a suggestion that curation is desired and is coming back. Children and parents both need more of it to navigate the vast range of material out there.

July's discussion started on the tricky problem of raising funds for production and looked into Mikael’s success with his company Acamar raising funds for the extension of his show Bing through EIS and other tax efficient investment schemes. The dramatic statement was made here that ‘the age of broadcaster commissions has gone forever’. For those of us still having discussions with platforms, it’s certainly now a very tough area. It was recognised that the Games industry has maybe been much more savvy – perhaps because there has never been a public service element so they have had to be much more commercially aware.  We talked about the importance of authenticity and passion when pitching concepts. We talked about the value of philosophy lessons in kids’ media to help kids live – but also just for entertaining ‘downtime’ content. We finally then discussed the role of educational content including music and dance and finally looked at CMF’s role in all this.

In September we had a lively discussion about shortform and the research that suggests that for developing minds, such short bursts of excitement may encourage short attention spans and not be good for the young brain.  We talked about the role of research and how platform and delivery methods weren’t the issue – but that it was all about quality, meaning the age-appropriate relevance and emotional range of the work. And then we moved on to Live Storytelling as we were fortunate enough to be in the company of two master storytellers – Wendy Shearer and Lucy Walters. We discussed the level of audience engagement and finally, provocatively, wondered if government money would be better spent sponsoring a network of children’s storytellers rather than supporting kids’ tv?

Finally in October Chitra Soundar took us through her amazing life which has led to her prolific globally recognised writing for kids and now involvement in TV. This sparked discussions about pro-active work opportunities for ethnic diversity in the industry and the difficulty of combatting the casual employment of friends and the difficulty of breaking into that circle. We talked about the recent creation of a group to support people of colour trying to advance in the industry, the barriers and the lack of career structures, Colourful Connections (though the name might change). We also moved on to other disadvantaged groups such as those with disability, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those from the regions (particularly small town and rural settings) as we also had representatives of those communities at the meeting. The point was made that any interventions need to be based on facts and statistics. The need for casual face to face meetings outside of London for networking was also looked at.

Anything respectful is welcome in our chats (including provocative or innovative ideas) and we want to have our finger on the pulse of the industry today. Do join us sometimes if you have the time. We want to keep things relaxed - like a coffee morning/evening - so you can pop in and pop out, speak up or just listen.

The next zoom chat is Wednesday 15th November at 6.30pm with the wonderful Sharna Jackson. Anyone associated with the UK Children’s Media industry in any way is welcome.

Topic: CMF Zoom chat NOVEMBER 2022
Time: Nov 15, 2023 06:30 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting

And just for your diaries these are the dates we have fixed so far for 2024 – guests will be confirmed very soon and you'll see them in CMF newsletters, the CMF Group on Linked-In and our mailouts. If you’d like to be on the Coffee Morning/Evening mailing list please let us know.

Friday 19th January: 11am-12noon
Wednesday 21st February: 6.30-7.30pm
Friday 15th March: 11am-12noon
Wednesday 17th April: 6.30-7.30pm

We look forward to seeing you.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)