Kids short film producers often work in the shadows of mainstream TV series, sometimes only taking the spotlight during festivals such as Germany’s Berlinale or Toronto’s Sprockets. But KRO in the Netherlands has opened up its 8:40 a.m. Sunday morning block as a showcase for this format, and it’s looking for 15-minute pitches targeting kids six to 12.
KRO’s kids buyer Jean Loeck van Kollenburg says the channel wants to balance the sci-fi and ‘extreme fiction’ shows that pack the schedules of its Dutch kidcasting rivals by offering shorts that reflect older kids’ daily lives. The shorts can include role-playing and conflict elements, but should mainly focus on social topics that tweens regularly deal with, such as mustering up the courage to confront friends and understanding why parents sometimes seem unreasonable.
The average payout for indie films in this special window is roughly US$1,400, but van Kollenburg stresses that license fees will fluctuate depending on the production value of the short and the availability of a separate M&E track for dubbing in Dutch. KRO may also consider engaging in co-productions to fill this window.
Independent films for KRO’s Sunday morning window have included Pepe’s Watch from Israel’s Michael Peretiz and Houdini’s Hound from Sara Johnsen in Norway. Van Kollenburg typically mines film festivals to fill this block, and he hints that a few titles from Germany’s most recent Berlinale are under consideration.
To complement the block, KRO’s website features a section where viewers can vote for their favorite short. Van Kollenburg says there are plans in the works to beef up this interactive content into 2005 with more voting opportunities and competitions. Since its launch in 2001, the website has been netting roughly 10,000 views a week.
Looking ahead to 2005, Van Kollenburg is on the prowl for Hans Christian Andersen content for KRO’s TienPlus! weekend morning block in order to tie into the author’s 200th birthday. So far, KRO has picked up The Fairytaler, a 26 x half-hour animated series from Holland’s Telescreen, and van Kollenburg is trolling distributors’ catalogues for additional adaptations of Andersen tales.
With 24-hour nets Cartoon and Kindernet operating in the Netherlands, along with kids blocks on terrestrials RTL, SBS, VPRO (with a Fox Kids/Jetix output) and RTL’s cablenet Yorin, KRO competes pretty intensely to attract the Netherlands’ three million viewers ages three to 12. Despite this heated battle, all the Dutch terrestrial channels join forces to contribute children’s programming to Nederland 3′s Zappelin block.
For one hour each weekday at 8:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., KRO airs a strand made up primarily of acquisitions on both Zappelin’s preschool window and its own Kindertijd block. The most recent pick-ups for these windows include Engie Benjy from Granada and Cosgrove Hall (set to bow in June) and Karsten and Petra from TV 2 in Denmark. This live-action series, debuting in late 2004 or early 2005, explores the friendship between a young boy and girl going through their first preschool experiences, such as leaving the country for vacation and being away from parents while at nursery school.