An Idiot Abroad
An idiot abroad is a phrase that has resonance for John Kent. But enough about family holidays. This session was about working with international co-producers. And the panel thoughtfully provided their own list of takeaways, reproduced here:
Top Ten (well twenty) Takeaways
Download the Idiot Abroad takeaway list here: An Idiot Abroad – Take Away v12diddy
For the night after the Hubs party, this was a nice straightforward session. Interesting, informative, useful while remaining an easy listen
The panel themselves bought an international flavour to this session – 2 French, a Brit, a Canadian (though possibly with a hint of Oz) and an Irishman. They represented writers, commissioners and producers.
There was a consensus amongst the panel that while children are children and have similar needs the world over, they do respond differently depending on where they are.
Take pre-school, for example: French children start school at around two and a half – and legally, shows should not target children under three. That means that TV for ‘pre schoolers’ in France tends to be much more for entertainment than learning. There was also a sense from John Chambers that the French assume children can handle more adult issues.
For the Canadians, child development is very important – CBC even has a child psychologist on their staff to ensure a programme is positioned correctly. Celine also remarked that toilet humour in Canada is an absolute no-no!
Imitative behaviour was another one. John Chambers referred to the French series he worked on where the British wouldn’t allow a penguin to live in a fridge.
Tim Compton’s case study was House of Anubis – a show that combines comedy, mystery and soap. The format originated in Belgium and was produced between the UK and the US. John reinforced the theme that humour is polarised by nationality: Belgians like broad humour with grotesque characters. The UK likes stronger characters and farce. Whereas in the US, it is about the polish – and gags – on the page. He thinks that the combination of these needs has produced a show with lots of nuances.
Diane Morel and Celine referred to the challenges of working with Brits. Apparently in the main we’re rubbish at dealing with second languages (I think we knew that?!) and we’re also rubbish at saying what we really mean… when we say a ‘couple of small comments’ we mean ‘we need a full rewrite.’ That kind of thing!
The panel seemed to agree that while international co-pro has its challenges, it was rewarding – provided you work hard to ensure you have a partner you really get on with, and that you work hard on ensuring communication is open and clear.
Carla de Jong – CBC
Tim Compton – Lime Pictures
Diane Morel – Freelance Story Editor
John Chambers – Freelance scriptwriter
Celine Chesnay – TV France
Will Brenton – Wish Films
Carla De Jong
Executive in Charge of Production and Development, Children's and Youth Programming
Scriptwriter and Development Consultant