Tuesday, February 17, 2009
What's the word from Kidscreen '09?
The Kidscreen folk call their event "the largest and most important event of the year for kids entertainment executives." I don't know if that's true but the buzz over the last few years has been very positive. I've never been. If I want to see Sebastian from KIKA dance the way German men do, or have the guys from Millimages tell me just how important they are and how many projects they 'got away', or have Ron Diamond from AWN follow me about, I can do all that at the Cartoon Forum. And even that, well, once you've been to one it sort of loses its appeal.
This year there wasn't a chance in hell of me going with this project having turned into some sort of disaster movie, like maybe Towering Inferno. No, Airplane is probably closer to the truth.
But word is coming back from last week's Kidscreen Summit and, from the sounds of it, a recession-era Kidscreen is a poorly attended one. That's no big surprise. For the first time, Kidscreen were spamming my mailbox right up to the last minute offering me better and better deals to attend. Companies are not about to splash out for little holidays like that right now. In fact, while they were just offering me good deals, I know they went as far as to pay for some key people to go but I'm just not that important.
From what I'm told, those who did attend seemed to be a bit more down to business, using it more as just a meeting space than anything else.
And the business? Well, that seems to have been the business of pulling out of projects. Yep, sounds like the recession panic has hit hard. Several projects that I know of, at least one due to go into production in the next month, have had the rug pulled from under them by funders. Many projects that were due to be delivered this year or early next year just won't happen. Stories of doom and gloom abound.
A year from now, how many production companies will have shut down? How many people will have lost their jobs?
It's an unfortunate truth that this business, at least over this side of the pond, is bloated. There is far too much product, not enough places to put that product and, even then, there's only so much a child can watch and certainly they should be watching less, not more.
Many if not most companies exist on local government subsidies, tax breaks and schemes - very few companies have a sustainable business model. In my view that's not a bad thing - the ones that have a sustainable business model are usually working for the forces of evil and selling shit to your kids. Because of bans on certain advertising to children (again, in my view a very good thing), local subsidies are essential in making sure young children have something good to watch and aren't just growing up with imported Barneys.
But the business is bloated.
And this recession I think is about to bring about a cull. While that sucks for those who won't survive it, for the rest of us (at least I'm hoping I'll be with the survivors), I think we'll be in a far better position when it's done.