Planet Preschool

Look at me!

My good friends Joanne and Quentin have a wonderful daughter named Chloe who is three.  I was at a party at their home recently and Chloe came out of her ...
April 1, 2009

My good friends Joanne and Quentin have a wonderful daughter named Chloe who is three.  I was at a party at their home recently and Chloe came out of her bedroom wearing a red tutu and Mardi Gras beads.  When her entrance did not pack the punch she had hoped for, and we adults continued our senseless chatting, Chloe stood in the middle of the living room and, without a hint of self-consciousness, shouted,  “Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at me!”

As an independent producer heading to MIPTV, I know exactly how she feels.

I have never been much for groups.  Though I think I have a lot to say, I prefer to say it to one person at a time.  My second choice is to write it down.  My third choice is go home and nap.  These approaches have served me well up until now, and I have been able to pitch my preschool shows quietly to one or two thoughtful people at a time, ideally over tea, and, fortunately, a few of them have been kind enough to say yes.  I call this approach, “This One Is Just For You,” and I believe it is the sanest way to do business.

But now I am headed to Cannes to see how the big boys do it.  I am traveling with my trusted colleague, Heather Tilert, to support two of our Little Airplane projects: 3rd & Bird!, which we make for the BBC, and a brand new preschool show called Tobi! which we make for ourselves and have pre-sold to Treehouse TV and Nick Australia.

Since BBCWW is taking care of 3rd & Bird! I am not worried about that one.  After all, these are the people who just sold In The Night Garden to CCTV, so I have no doubt they can help our little Muffin Lovebird fly around the world.


Tobi! on the other hand, is being sold by us.  No sales team.  No booth. Just two perky Americans wearing Obama buttons and pretending to know what terrestrial rights are.

So, for the next few days, Heather and I will be meeting personally with broadcasters from Croatia to Finland to explain why Tobi! is unlike anything we have ever made at Little Airplane. Rather than create a show that simply entertains or educates, we have done our best to make a show that tackles head on such serious issues of homelessness, poverty and discrimination. And, I believe, we have done so in an endearing and preschool appropriate manner. We wanted to share this ourselves, so we’re headed to Cannes.

Am I just a little concerned that our non-toyetic, hand-drawn, “love” project with no vehicles and an “interesting” length of four minutes may have a hard time finding a home in an environment crowded with CGI animals, aliens and dinosaurs who ride on planes, trains and automobiles?Well, yes, I am.But I’m not overly concerned. I love our new show. I think Tobi and his little sidekick Laloo are among the cutest characters ever designed by our brilliant Creative Director, Jennifer Oxley. And I believe that our traditional hand-drawn animation and cool jazz tracks will resonate with kids and parents alike. So our new show may be modest, but it’s the show that we wanted to make. It came from our hearts.

So, I am ready for Cannes. And even though I may not be wearing Chloe’s tutu and Mardi Gras beads, I am going to follow her bold example. In my own quiet way, I will spend the next week standing in the middle of the Palais with my show bibles shouting, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”

But in case you miss me there, I will also be reachable at

PS:  As we got off the plane in Cannes we encountered a dashing, impish Canadian who was hawking children’s programs from inside of his jacket.  He mumbled something about a yacht and CANCON and then disappeared into the fog. We were utterly charmed by this man of mystery and we were able to get a snapshot of him with my iPhone.  Does anybody know this strange and yet somehow irresistible gentleman?

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