IF you were a fly on the wall at the Children’s Daytime Emmy Awards nominations at KidScreen Summit this year, you probably noticed that the same shows and producers seemed to crop up again and again in the main kids programming categories. In fact, it would be totally natural for an industry outsider to assume from the event that the US kids production industry consists of just a handful of studios.
It’s neither difficult nor expensive to enter the Emmys, and the eligibility parameters are pretty generous, so the stumbling block preventing more companies from getting in on the game must be a lack of information. So let’s rectify that, shall we?
October marks the beginning of the awards calendar for the Daytime Emmys, and the team kicks off the season by putting out a call for entries/judges and posting the rules & procedures handbook and registration/entry forms online at www.emmyonline.org. The association’s database is somewhat limited, so if you’re not currently receiving its Emmy Essential newsletter and other send-outs, email executive director Brent Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask to join the distribution list.
Stanton isn’t planning to make any drastic changes to next year’s categories, so the ballot should still offer up the following 10 opportunities for kids TV producers to vie for accolades:
• Children’s animated program
• Preschool children’s series
• Children’s series
• Children’s/youth/family special
• Directing in a children’s series
• Original song – children’s and animated
• Performer in a children’s series
• Performer in a children’s/youth/family special
• Performer in an animated program
• Writing in a children’s series
In terms of eligibility, programs must have aired sometime in 2007 on a platform available to more than 50% of the total US TV audience and in a slot between 2 a.m. and 6 p.m. Contrary to popular belief, foreign productions can enter – as long as they involve a US co-pro partner. The Emmys defines a series as consisting of at least three episodes, and programs must contain at least 2/3 original material. On the outs are projects that debuted theatrically, as home entertainment products, or in a previous awards year. Entry forms and fees are due back in early December.
Those Emmy statuettes don’t come cheap, so producers do have to pay to play, but it’s not prohibitive. The cost of entry varies by category between US$150 and US$400, and members of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) or the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) get a 50% discount.
Once the entries are submitted, the Emmy org gets a little help from its members in whittling the lists down to the projects that deserve an official nomination. Judges participating in this part of the voting process register in mid-December and must meet the following criteria for approval. They have to be NATAS/ATAS members who have worked in kids production for two of the past five years, or who have a significant body of work in children’s TV over the past 10 years. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine which categories each person is qualified to vote in.
Paper ballots go out to the nomination judging panels in early January, and then they have about a week to put a tick beside every project they deem deserving of a nom before returning them to accounting firm Deloitte and Touche. Nominations are then announced in February, to great fanfare and celebration.
Once they’ve recovered from the ensuing champagne buzz, producers whose shows have received a nod must provide a DVD to the Emmy org by end of March; each category has specific instructions for what the disks should contain, but all of those details will be communicated to nominees well in advance of the deadline.
The second voting phase takes place in May and involves panels of judges hand-picked from amongst the previously qualified group so as to avoid conflict of interest. They review the entry packages, watch the DVDs and then pick a winner in each category they’re eligible to vote in. Ballots come back in at the end of the month, and then the winners are announced in mid-June at the Daytime Emmys’ gala awards ceremony.
The Emmys added a new category for Children’s Broadband content last year, and the entry process for this field adheres to a slightly different timeline and criteria list, which will be outlined fully on www.emmyonline.org come October.
The individual achievement in animation award is also a bit of an anomaly as it’s a juried prize that may be given to more than one person or no one, depending on the field in any given year. It recognizes the work of storyboard artists, production designers, layout artists, color stylists, background key designers, animators and character designers, and is voted on by a panel of peer judges in L.A. at the end of January. Entry criteria for this special award is also fully outlined on the Emmys website.