The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Animated Kids?

BAFTAS01In our occasional series of industry and audience snapshots - Will Adams from animation company Once Were Farmers reflects on the growth of animation in the UK, and the need for children to see animation made here, so that they can be stimulated to want to become the next generation of creatives.

Will, and the Once Were Farmers team recently attended the 2015 Children's BAFTAs with a short-form nomination for 'Bitesize Shakespeare', where they met Floella Benjamin who, they say, is as brilliant as she was when they were 3 yrs old. 

Like any ecosystem Animation production thrives on biodiversity - a broad range of practitioners with artistic, technical and managerial skills. These talented critters need fuel in order to survive and consumers to feed. The introduction of the Animation Tax Break has gone some way to making more food readily available but there's still work to be done to build a more sustainable life cycle for many of the animation companies alive today.

BSS_RicIII_Still_02Animation has exploded over the past 20 years. It's everywhere, from Apps to Ads, Games, Series and Features. Animation appeals to everyone in some form or other, from the grotesque beasts in horror movies, to sleek news idents - but, at it's heart, remains Children's content. Nowhere, was this more apparent that at the Children's BAFTA's last November, where many of the award-winning programs represent children's first irresistible taste of all things animated.

Children are the key to a healthy animation ecosystem - whether they go on to be life-long lovers of animation as consumers, or whether they go on to generate content for the generations that follow them. This brings us to the importance of having UK-based originators and commissions for children's content, and their financial and cultural significance.

Children's media is the field in which creative talent is nurtured and the audience is cultivated. Without homegrown content the talent will have to look for work elsewhere and we lose the potential for animated ambassadors across the globe. We lose the potential to share our humour and values with young minds; to create stories that encourage young people to explore new ideas and think for themselves.

BSS_RicIII_Still_01Of course, the same argument could be made for some kind of animated imperialism but there is no need for cultural naval gazing. Yes, we should celebrate the likes of Shakespeare and Burns, but no, we should not restrict the imaginations of our creative talent. If UK artists create the next 'SpongeBob', 'Frozen' or 'Star Wars', people will soon learn where it came from. For that to happen we also need commissioners who are willing to take risks and look to the future, rather than re-living past glories.

In an age of service economies children's media represents a saleable product and for that reason alone it needs to be supported. Without UK commissions providing a training ground and ongoing employment for the talent children's media requires the well spring will dry up and leave us barren. At the same time we need to give our talent free range to travel, learn and return, enriched by knowledge from studios abroad, as well being able to offer jobs that attract international talent, who we can learn from at home.

The exchange of both talent and media needs to flow freely in to and out of the country in order to plant new ideas, grow the economy and to reap a harvest that will inspire future generations. UK commissions are the fertiliser we need to make it happen.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)