The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

The Market that Shapes Kids Content – and how one family copes with it…

The Kidscreen Summit is one of the biggest events in kids’ entertainment. It’s an annual conference in New York, and it’s also grown into one of most important international markets for children’s TV content, with almost 50 countries represented and over 900 producers and distributors attending. It’s where programmes are bought and sold, co-productions brokered and funded, and new ideas shown to TV executives from around the globe.  But how do our children actually benefit from it? 

Angela Salt, of Fun Crew and mother to three, reports on what Kidscreen does for her kids.

Fun Crew have recently returned from New York and 2014’s Kidscreen Summit, renowned as the kids entertainment industry’s most important annual event. Thankfully, in 2014, it didn’t clash with another important annual event - our youngest child’s birthday. For the previous three years I’ve spent that welling-up on the wrong side of The Atlantic, croaking “Happy Birthday” via Facetime and over-compensating in FAO Schwarz.
I should explain that I co-founded Fun Crew, an independent content creation studio based in Merseyside with my husband, Stuart Harrison, in 2006 and we have three children aged 15, 12 and 7. The question I’ve been asked to answer here is one I’m well used to having to answer to them as well. “Why do you have to go to New York again Mummy ...?!” I sigh empathetically and respond, “So that we can take a more global approach in trying to meet international co-producers and broadcasters darlings, and then one day, when we get a really great deal we can all go to New York! Just not on AA because there’s no seat-back entertainment for you, kids, nor drinks service for, er, daddy.”
So, yes, hopefully our kids will get to go to New York one day on the back of us putting all the hard work in now, networking with around 1,600 delegates from 47 countries and flying the flag for UK creativity, being part of the official UK@Kidscreen delegation. This year’s Kidscreen was particularly exciting for us because we’d recently signed an option and development deal with a global partner, Technicolor, for an animated, pre-school comedy show called ‘Cosmo, Bud & Boo’. Networking was a must and we had ample opportunity to find potential co-production partners for that project, in addition to pitching other ideas and building relationships for the future.
Being quite a young studio, this is obviously a huge chance not to be passed up on. It’s really exciting, but also a bit nerve racking flying the flag for the UK when we’re so small in comparison to other delegates. I was trying to explain to my children how being the ‘new kid on the block’ at Kidscreen feels. Whenever they’re feeling a bit nervous socially I use it as an example of somewhere I must try to engage with people I’ve never met before and ‘make friends’. My teenager’s not quite at the cheerful, smiling, “Hello!” stage yet but step-by-step I’m trying to impart my networking experience and hopefully she’ll be a beaming volunteer at The Children’s Media Conference in a couple of years or so...
It’s important to us that our kids see us following our dream of seeing our ideas realised on screen, being tenacious and not giving up when it’s undoubtedly tough. There’s no immediate return on the investment of attending Kidscreen but every year we’re building awareness of our brand and learning more about what the kids’ media industry needs from creators. Putting yourself out there, undaunted, getting to know people and what they’re looking for, and responding creatively are all good skills to pass on to our kids I reckon. It’s great that they can relate to our work and they’re keen to get involved. Our children critique our ideas and their likes and dislikes constantly feed into our creative thinking. It kind of works both ways.
We’re living with our end-users 24/7. One broadcaster, when asked for top-tips on creating successful media for children, offered the helpful insight, “Spend time with kids!” Spending time away from them is also necessary, and slightly calmer, but in the end you need their input as much as they need yours, only they don’t know it.
“Did you bring us anything?” That’s all they really want to know about Kidscreen. They’re not interested to hear about the cross-fertilisation of ideas around the globe or how second screen opportunities are extending ways for them to interact with a property nor that there’s a big shift to on-demand. They already know all that stuff! However, Kidscreen works to develop links and ideas and partnerships in children’s media on a global scale – and many programmes with ambitious production budgets would never get made without those partnerships.
In my opinion my kids definitely benefit from that, and now they each have purple Yu-Gi-Oh! beanies to show for it!

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)