Are We There Yet?

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2013 3:22pm

A 10th birthday opportunity to reflect on changes over the past 10 years and look forward to the next ten years.

Blogged by Jan Leventhall

Showroom Cinema 4&3
Thursday 4 July 9.30 – 10.30

What the audience had to say:

“What was great about the session was it started to address a range of issues that will be explored in more detail at the other sessions in the conference.’’ Anon

“A good primer to wake up the brain for the day.  Fun and interesting.”  Chris and Jamie from Karrot Entertainment

“It’s our first time here and first talk.  A great introduction. Everyone is so friendly, we liked the cup cakes and it was great to hear one of our programmes get a mention (The Lingo Show)” Jenny and Krystal, Freelance Animators/Producers.

“Children’s media really understands that there isn’t a hard divide between non-fiction and fictional narratives.  The number of times I heard the word story and how it is used quite clearly to mean narratives both that describe the real world and narratives that are about imaginary worlds.  And that makes me happy!” Nicola, Freelance writer.

Ten things to take away from the session;

About the past…

1.    Ten years ago there was no YouTube, barely no Facebook and no Twitter.   Kids played card games like UNO and our presenter watched Harry Potter, Scary Sleepover and Newsround reports on the Iraq war!

About the present…

2.    Twitter has taken over Facebook.  According to the boy on the VT  “Even the queen has a twitter account, but I don’t think it’s her!”

3.    The emergence of technology has allowed us to reach kids in news ways.

4.    Today the landscape is richer than ever for content producers – a very exciting time.

5.    It is all about the value of the story.  If you get the story and the narrative right you are there.

About the future

6.    Children are loyal to the brands they know. The toughest challenge is how, in the current and future broad multi platform schedule, to introduce children to things they don’t know.

7.    While producers ensure the safety of their content for children it will be important to police the ways in which they access content.

8.    Quality may have to be re-defined as audiences will increasingly approach content from different perspectives.

9.    The most useful thing to know is that child development is a constant – it is the context around it that changes – children are still the same, although the advances in technology may have made children’s lives harder to navigate.

10. The key thing is to make sure we keep bringing new young people into the industry.  They are the people who understand where ‘there’ is.

 Download: David Kleeman’s top ten predictions: Future 10 Slides 2

As a delegate from one of those previous era’s I identified with Nigel Pickard when his response to the question Are You There Yet was, “Quite clearly I have gone past it!”

The tone of the session was fun and friendly and yet serious issues about the past, present and future picture for children’s media were addressed, many of which will form the focus of further separate conference sessions.

In the spirit of a birthday party, individual cup cakes were awarded to members of the audience who addressed intellectually challenging questions such as who is happier, British or Mexican kids – the answer being Mexican, of course!    We were given a privileged insight into what the panel of industry luminaries wished they had known in the past and what challenges they felt we face for the future.  All agreed that we are in a period of ever changing technology, which although offering challenges actually offers more an exciting opportunities than were available 10 years ago.  The importance of story and narrative was a recurring theme – as long as the story is valued, appropriate and relevant to children’s lives, either locally or globally, we will continue to reach the audience.

So are the panel there yet?  What the experts said ….

Francesca – “The world is very fast moving and ever changing. We always have to change and evolve which is what makes it interesting and exciting.”

Nigel – “Quite clearly I have got past it! Of course we are not there. If you are a creator of great content, you have to have some luck and find a way to get it there, but there is no limit.”

Amelia – “We are not there yet.  With tablets and mobiles emerging at the speed they are, they are not there yet themselves, and will continue to evolve.  As producers it is up to us to keep up – be nimble and fast and able to react quickly as technology takes us into new areas.”

David – “We haven’t ever been ‘there’.  Every time a child engages with a story we tell – we are there!”

Joe – “I don’t think there is a ‘there’.  We are behind the audience and need to get alongside them.”

In 2004 the Showmotion CMC theme was:  World without schedules

As forecast by David – in 2023 a rather older Greg may still be chairing the CMC when the conference theme may be: Really Schedules are dead – Get over it

Nothing really changes!

Producer:                        Reem Nouss (Consultant – ReemNoussMedia)
Exec Producer:               Greg Childs (Editorial Director, The Children’s Media Conference)


Host/Moderator:            Joe Mace (Head of Entertainment Development – ITV Studios)
Speakers:                      Francesca Dow (Managing Director – Penguin Children’s)
Joe Godwin (Director – BBC Children’s)
Amelia Johnson (Co-Founder – Bin Weevils)
David Kleeman (Senior VP – Insights Programs and PlayVangelist, PlayCollective)
Nigel Pickard (CEO – Zodiac Kids UK)