Charlie Studdy (Junction Goole, Arts and Leisure Manager) describes his experience from the Children's Film First Conference. Charlie recounts some of the discussion and topics included over the course of his trip.
Film First Conference was held in Brussels on 24 September 2015, the final
activity in a year long programme organised by the European Children’s Film
Association (ECFA) and the Children’s Media Conference and funded by the EU’s
Media programme. It brought together over
150 delegates, mostly European but with representatives from further afield,
such as Australia and America.
There was a
wide-ranging programme of presentations throughout the day, covering topics
from creative practice to audience research, examples of existing practice in
the children’s film sector and reflections on its health and direction.
At a strategic
level, MEP for North West England Julie Ward, who sits on the Cultural and
Education Committee used her keynote to communicate her passion around culture
and the importance of media literacy within this and delivered a strong message
that our work in the cultural sector is hugely necessary. In her own role, she
is taking the message to two other groups on which she sits, the children’s
rights and disability inter groups. She
noted that the European Council is becoming much more interested in promoting
cultural values via film and the arts and that this is driven by the need to
encourage dialogue and communication between all sections of European
discussion on access to children’s films included Edward Fletcher from Soda
Pictures, who highlighted that in the UK, cinema attendance by the under 35s is
at a five year low, a situation he ascribed to VOD and that this is stimulating
the distributor to take a new approach to working with exhibitors and
festivals, supported by the BFI. He said
this might involve tailoring marketing to local demand and abandoning the
minimum guarantee in favour of an emphasis on generating more income through
DVD sales. Approaches to marketing or
supporting film education work included the Flemish film distributor Jekino,
which specialises in children’s film.
The company is keen to enhance the experience of film for young people
and always have study guides for their releases. Matthieu Zeller of Octopolis is in the
process of gathering top quality children’s film from around Europe for
worldwide distribution – he was clear for the need to market this material as
family film, not just for children: it is largely adults who make the decision
to take children to see film so the marketing and the content of the film, must
also work for them. Cinema going seems
to follow a pattern of high attendance when young, dropping off for 5 to10
years and then re-starting and it is in this gap that VOD is booming.
Jurors and Curators panel discussed practice in the European Youth Film
Festival and in the German Youth Film Juries.
An adult version of the Film Juries has been running in the country for
60 years, a well-known consumer kitemark of recommendation of new releases and
this has recently been extended to include youth juries such as the Jugend Film
jury http://www.jugend-filmjury.com/. There was also the example from the European
Film Festival which has a children’s jury for judging film – said to be a
relatively time-consuming and complex process if it is to properly allow the
children to consider and express their judgements. Food is an important factor!
Part of the
European funded work undertaken by ECFA and the CMC has been to collate a
database with country by country contacts working in the children’s film and
education sector http://www.ecfaweb.org/network.htm so if you need to find
a Lithuanian producer, it’s the place to go.
It also lists those titles that have study guides available, in what
language(s) and whether they are free or paid for.
session of the day offered delegates a choice of activities, either learning
green screen techniques with workshoppers from the London Connected Learning
Centre or on poetry with mobile phones.
At the former, the work of the LCLC was briefly described, working
mostly on film making projects in schools but also projects for whole
families. It was followed by a group
activity, making a short iPad film using a green screen app that was simple and
very effective for its £2.30 price tag.
around children’s vs family film is not a new one. In the live arts world, the Family Arts
Campaign has been emphasising the importance and complexity of family audiences
for over two years, commissioning research and conferences into the area. At Junction, a mixed programme venue and member
of the Family Arts Campaign, we have been working for some time to make live
events more family friendly and thinking about what this means for our
marketing strategies, the words we use, the information we supply, the
facilities we have, the pricing structure, the café offer etc. Although
this was not a focus of the conference, it is all highly relevant to the future
of children’s/family film and worth anyone’s consideration if they are
passionate about it.