Children as Content Creators….
Nina Koo-Seen-Lin learns to take a back seat and let the kids do the creating.
Introduced by Gary Pope (Director of Kids Industries)
Speakers: Sarah Cox (Director of Tate movie Project), Oli Hyatt (Creative Director of Blue Zoo Productions), Cecilia Persson (Vice President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions – EMEA and Turner Broadcasting), Barry Sheridan (Art Manager of Muvizu)
Wowza! This is certainly going to be a popular talk –the cinema room is jam packed and every seat taken. I see two people in front of me sneakily sharing a seat while a crowd of people cram themselves at the back. Gary Pope does the introductions and tries to erase the feeling of claustrophobia by describing the room as cosy.
Sarah Cox is the first to step up to the podium. She’s here to talk about The Itch of the Golden Knit, a film created entirely by children for children. “Children can lead you to places you wouldn’t think to go to” she says. She learned that the hard way when a friend’s 8 year old boy marched her to the end of a restaurant so he could draw her. Despite her embarrassment an idea was born and she was soon travelling up and down the country gathering children’s drawings and character ideas, eventually coming up with a film idea. One character a child came up with was a superhero called Super Light. Apparently there are three things a suoerhero needs in life and nothing else: magic pants, flashy gadgets and a heart. A clip of the final film is shown there’s a ripple of laughter that grows. It’s obvious everyone’s going to see this film at some point and there’s applause all round when Sarah announces plans are being put into place to make this an ongoing project. Hoorah!
Cecilia Persson from Turner (launched in 2008), produces a fancy Powerpoint presentation full of incredible facts: online gaming is the 3rd most common reason for kids to go on the internet. So it seems only natural they should get a say in the games that they’re playing. Turner has produced a Ben 10 Game Creator which is free to use, has a million different game building combinations and allows kids to create and share games around the world. It’s creativity at a child’s finger-typing tips! There’s a Ben 10 Alien Maker game perfect for boys and The Great Paper Chase game suited for younger kids where create your own car/spacehip or whatever for the big race think Pimp my Ride with lots of virtual crayons, pasta and glitter. This game combines Wacky Races and an art class – a winning combo if ever there was one.
Barry from Muvizu, and the Muvizu team, came up with the concept to make animation accessible to children. We look at a boy called Scott and his animated policeman who stretches and does an “a-okay” sign while talking about how he needs to catch the baddest baddie of all baddies in the world – Robber 1.
The best thing to come out of this project, Barry says, is the kick up the pants he and got from seeing what kids were capable of. That’s something lots of people in this talk are probably feeling now.
Last up is Oli Hyatt, one of the proud creators of Olive the Ostrich. Oli’s vision was to give children a chance to produce something they could be proud of. The basic plot of Olive is as follows: Olive doesn’t want to be an ostrich and she has an incredible imagination. When she sticks her head in a hole (as ostriches do) her imagination becomes alive. She enters worlds with many colourful characters and it’s these characters, which have been thought up, drawn and characterized by children. Oli shows a short film of the school children involved in the creation of the characters in Olive’s imaginary world. A kid comes up to the camera and proudly shows off his creation of a small bear with a kindly face. A few sniffs, “awwws” and watery eyes go around the room. These kids have been encouraged to feel good about themselves – something a lot of them have never felt before.
I leave with a joyful feeling and he knowledge that there are a lot of creative children out there. If we empower them to come up with the goods we’ll find that they can and they will. It takes a kid to come up with a two legged goat character with one horn longer than the other!
Olive the Ostrich will air on Nick Junior in September.
Tate Movie Project
Blue Zoo Productions
Vice President of Acquisitions and Co-productions, EMEA
Head of Client Services, Aardman Digital