Planet Preschool

Obrigado, Brasil!

First off, thank you for all of your many comments on last week’s blog.  You made me very happy and we are friends once again.    Today I’m on a flight from ...
May 13, 2009

First off, thank you for all of your many comments on last week’s blog.  You made me very happy and we are friends once again.   

Today I’m on a flight from Sao Paulo to Montevideo, Uruguay on the second (and final) leg of my Latin American tour.  I feel not unlike a missionary these days spreading the gospel of creating preschool IP.  I even have bibles in my carry-on baggage to help me in the pulpit.

Regardless of where I go or who I meet on this trip, I always end up pounding a table in a restaurant, bar or conference room and saying basically the same thing:  “The best shows are creator-driven.  The broadcasters know this and therefore they will always need new creators.  It doesn’t matter what country you come from.  (Look at Magnus!)  Just make a great bible and pitch the show that’s in your heart and you, too, will one day be writing a blog for KidScreen Magazine.” 

Needless to say, it has been an exhausting week in Brazil.  Most of my time was spent with a small group of international kids’ TV consultants and a pre-selected group of 25 Brazilian production companies, each of whom had an original show they want to develop and, hopefully, take to the international markets.  I was there with my colleagues to comfort, cajole, edit, inspire and pound on tables.  We did all of that and we also managed to have a great time together.  

Tanya Kelen, Emmanuelle Petry, Jacques Bensimon, Cathy Chilco, Madeleine Levesque, Heather Kenyon

Tanya Kelen, Emmanuelle Petry, Jacques Bensimon, Cathy Chilco, Madeleine Levesque, Heather Kenyon

The quality of the creative work we saw in Brazil was extraordinary.  There were clever teen shows, cute preschool shows and everything in-between shows.  There were cool shows, creepy shows and shows that reflected the cultural mix of Brazil.

It became immediately clear to all of us that we were not there to teach the Brazilians about creativity, they are already brilliant.  Our role was simply to explain how best to craft their materials so they could pitch them internationally.

But I think what impressed me most this trip were the people:  Their warmth, their humor, their passion and their hospitality.  I leave Brazil feeling like I have a new branch on my family tree.  So here, in no particular order, are some of the highlights of my trip to Sao Paulo.

Meeting and getting to know our conference leader, Jacques Bensimon. If you don’t know him, he’s worth a Google. But beyond his credits, Jacques is a generous spirit, a wonderful speaker and a true diplomat.  

 

Cristiane Gomez Fariah, who told me (repeatedly) that I looked exactly like Buzz Lightyear.

 

The animator and director, Ceu D’Ellia, a man of great personal integrity, who left Dreamworks to pursue his own animated environmental projects.

 

Having dinner with Beth Carmona and her beautiful family.  In many ways, Beth is the founder of children’s television in Brazil and she is also a truly creative, warm and inspiring woman.

Running in the mornings in the beautiful Parque do Ibirapuera and seeing the ethereal black swans.

 

Pao de Queijo.  If you have not had these, they are basically cheese bread formed into balls.  They alone are worth the ten-hour flight from New York to Brazil. 

 

And, finally, the warm smile and strong hand of Eliana Russi, our fearless Brazilian host and organizer.  Eliana and her team treated us like family and made sure we had unlimited capirinhas.

Thank you Kiko, Celia, Andre, Marcel, Jean and Reynaldo for your friendship and your hospitality.  I will forever be rooting for you and your amazing work.

But I guess what I will remember most from Brazil is what Emmanuelle Petry from Millimages described so simply and eloquently as, “your eyes.”  Each day we, the consultants, would look out at an audience of young creators whose eyes were so full of hope, intelligence and creativity.  And when they spoke of their projects, their eyes shined like phosphorescence. 

This I will never forget.

And to answer my own question from last week’s blog, I think Mister Rogers would throw his shoe at us for what we, as an industry, have become.  But he would not throw a shoe at the Brazilians.  In fact, he would be very proud of them because they are creating shows with their hearts, not with their CP team.  And I believe that one day very soon many of the Brazilian shows we saw this week will be on the air all over the world, helping our kids become better human beings. 

And as far as I’m concerned, there is no other reason to make kids’ TV.

Thank you for reminding me, Brazil.  Obrigado.

Josh

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