Preview – Staying Local
Thursday 4th July 2019, 09:30 – 10:30
Showroom Cinema 4
Drama at home….
With the twin arrival of new SVoD players and the new BFI fund, kids drama producers have never had it so good – or so promising. However, figuring out which way to take your pitch to appeal to either domestic players looking for local fayre, or streamers looking for shows that will resonate all around the world – seems to leave producers with a tricky choice.
On the one hand they can develop stories that feel very culturally specific but might not travel, while on the other seem to be the stories that will appeal to kids all over the world but might not really speak sufficiently to the specific experience of growing up in the UK – and therefor not qualify for the new BFI fund.
However, with culturally specific drama booming internationally in the adult sector, is this choice quite as binary as it might appear? Maybe there is a way to get to the universal though the specific? Shows like ‘Grandpa in my Pocket’, for example, manage to at once speak to a very British mind-set, while at the same time resonating with everyone who has experienced that special bond between grandparents and their grandkids. Perhaps it is that very commitment to giving the show a specifically British flavour that gave the show a real centre of gravity and so boosted its appeal internationally?
Then, of course, there is the issue of scale – it seems difficult to reconcile a world where Netflix’s ‘Lemony Snicket’ costs “movie money”, while local shows have to contend with ever more challenging budgets as domestic players struggle with the effects of digital erosion and the continued effect of (justified) advertising bans on their funding.
However, it is also true to say that there can be a real freedom in concentrating on the core of the idea away from the demands of the international spotlight. Years ago I used to work for the Royal Court Theatre where the studio space was undoubtedly the more exciting place to be – liberated as it was from the pressures of the main stage and all the dire consequences of failed risk that came with it.
Coupled with all this, of course, is the rise of production and distribution technology which has made the production and transmission of content a viable available option for pretty much anyone with an idea and the will to bring it to life – which again points to a new possibility for drama that really gets under the UK’s cultural skin and helps the understand these “interesting” times in which they live without having to cost the earth.
If you, like me, develop drama for kids, or harbour an ambition to do so, then it seems that these are the questions which you will need to consider as you formulate your development strategy – and so we are going to get the chance to take a pretty deep dive into these topics at CMC with a panel of commissioners and leading producers who have successfully negotiated these waters recently both for local and international commissioners.
I’m really looking forward to stealing everything they have learned in my quest for global (and local!) domination – why not join me!?
Commissioning Editor, Independent Drama
Joint Head of Kids
Head of BFI YACF
Creative Director of Content
IP, Publishing and Production Consultant