Joining the Hopeful, Happy Band – Why Go to Kidscreen?
Angela Salt is a content creator and creative producer at Fun Crew.
She is a three-time veteran at Kidscreen and has signed up to join the CMC organised UK@Kidscreen British delegation again in February 2014. We asked her what makes Kidscreen (and especially UK@Kidscreen) important for her…
OK… so why join the hopeful, happy band that is UK@Kidscreen 2014?
It’s a considerable chunk of investment for a small, independent creative company such as ours. Despite Dan Good‘s mischievous assertion that, “Fun Crew have their own private yacht!” (I overheard him telling ‘newbies’ that when he spotted me in a sailor suit at the CMC last July) we find the annual outlay rather formidable, like most small businesses would. There is no guaranteed short-term return for us on the investment, Fun Crew are taking a long-term view on that. We’ve been pitching our original ideas for some time, hanging in there because we’ve had such encouragement from within the industry that they’re great – and we’re essentially optimistic, passionate about what we do and tenacious. We really want to do this, i.e. create fun, marketable kids’ content so we’ve been prepared to take the gamble and leap into the unknown… well, at least over The Atlantic.
We appreciate each and every individual who’s spared us their time and spurred us on since we first started attending The Children’s Media Conference (then Showcomotion) in 2008. And happily our steadfast, speculative efforts are starting to bring success. We are delighted to now be working with a global partner, Technicolor, to develop a fun, brand new, animated pre-school comedy show. It’s based on an idea we originally pitched to Technicolor in the UK and subsequently pitched to their global team at Kidscreen 2013.
2014 will be our fourth consecutive Kidscreen. We keep enthusiastically going back for more, building relationships year-on-year. It’s kind of like long-distance courting although, in truth, some of those ‘first dates’ may have happened at The CMC in a student bar in Sheffield’s Hubs. Nothing like cheap beer in plastic glasses on a balmy summer night to break the ice with international broadcasters and commissioners …! (Kidscreen organisers take note, C’mon! We want a DISCO! Studio 54 vibe since it’s NYC…)
It’s really useful that the UK@Kidscreen delegation is backed-up with wonderful PR and is a superb opportunity to gain traction on new projects and take your ideas to a much wider, international market.
There are obvious places to start networking at Kidscreen: It’s a good idea to sign up to the online lotteries for speed-pitching and ‘Lunching with’ sessions (although if you win lunch with your dream commissioner don’t be too hungry to pitch your idea at the table! My advice is talk about anything else, be interesting, and perhaps you’ll make a lasting impression.)
Greg, Sarah and UKTI start the whole thing off by lining up the ‘Hotties’ to meet in Manhattan with an excellent Breakfast Briefing, and follow up with the Consulate cocktail party and a number of keen experts actually brought right to the delegation tables…! Their practical support and mentoring is superb and very reassuring to delegation ‘newbies’. They remain on-hand to help UK@Kidscreen delegates throughout the summit and, after a full-on day socialise and share insights. There’s also plenty of opportunity to build relationships with fellow British delegates, swap ideas and experiences around the UK tables. There’s a great sense of camaraderie and being an active member of ‘Team UK’ at Kidscreen buoys the spirit and boosts confidence to really GO FOR IT! and pitch your heart out in New York. (I’ll be packing Yorkshire tea-bags again if anyone needs an emergency proper cup of tea to get really revved up out there …!)
It’s clear to us, having done our first Kidscreen in 2011, before the UK@Kidscreen delegation was running, what a huge difference it makes to be part of an official trade mission. From the outset it confers credibility and makes it easier to approach unknown, international industry targets. (Tip – don’t forget to write ‘UK@Kidscreen Delegation’ in the subject title of your email requests for meetings!) While there it’s invaluable to have a designated space available for meetings (tables, chairs and new branding this year people – an unmissable British Base Camp in the ballroom!) It’s a great idea to schedule lots of meetings ahead of the event, not so easy to just ‘catch people’ on spec. However there are opportunities to meet key people in the Kidscreen ’30 Minutes with …’ sessions. These are popular and can get packed-out, basically a 30 minute lock-in with a leading commissioner offering insights into what they’re actively looking for. So register early and book them as soon as you can.
And there’s another excellent reason to go to Kidscreen – to be receptive and research what the international children’s media industry’s on-the-lookout for! It’s partly a fact-finding mission for Fun Crew because as an ‘ideas factory’ we want to know what hits the spot! For us the the summit’s a huge creatively stimulating catalyst for new thinking. Having a chance to network with smart and innovative people sparks ideas and of course New York itself is a fantastically inspiring place to be!
If you’re thinking BIG, being courageous and having conviction in your ideas… why would you NOT go …?!