Planet Preschool

What I Didn’t Do At Banff

Banff is beautiful.  In fact, I think it may be too beautiful for a TV conference.  I, for one, had trouble focusing on doing business during my 36-hour whirlwind Banff ...
June 23, 2009

Banff is beautiful.  In fact, I think it may be too beautiful for a TV conference.  I, for one, had trouble focusing on doing business during my 36-hour whirlwind Banff visit.  I mean, what would you rather look at, the Canadian Rockies or four singing potatoes on an iPhone?

I felt moderately guilty for not getting more accomplished at Banff but every time I inhaled the cool Canadian air and looked up at the snow capped mountains, God spoke to me and said, “Go get a drink with J.J. Johnson.”  So I did.

Below is just a short list of the events I did not attend at Banff:

The Biz – The How to Guide to Survive the Recession

Beyond Broadcast:  Engaging your Audience Online

Bowling with a Decision Maker

The Evolution of Television Distribution

Mows and Mini-Series:  A New Dawn

I heard that all these panels were fascinating but so were the three elk that Heather and I saw while running on the trails behind the hotel.

But I actually learned quite a bit at Banff.  For example, I learned that if I see a bear in the wild I should stand up really tall and wave my arms and say, “I’m with the CBC.”

But if that doesn’t work and the bear attacks you, I was told (by Heather Tilert who watches the Discovery Channel) that the thing to do is to crouch down on the ground and cover the back of your neck with both hands.  I was dubious about this approach at first but then I recalled that I have used this technique during several of my negotiations with broadcasters and it did, in fact, save my life.

I should mention here that Brown Johnson, Steven DeNure and Beth Stevenson saw three grizzly bears while walking on a trail at Banff.  As legend has it, the three bears realized whom they had stumbled upon and immediately began pitching a show about their lives with their pesky little girl neighbor, Goldilocks.  Apparently the three bears were stunned to learn that their story was already in the public domain.

Though details are murky, the three bears were later seen in the Banff Springs Hotel bar having a drink with David Levine from Disney International, owners of Winnie The Pooh.

I should mention that the best line of the conference came from Frank Saperstein of E1 Entertainment on a panel I did attend when he was asked what the worst pitch he ever heard was and he responded, “The Cheeses of Nazareth.”

But Heather and I did do some actual business at Banff.  The reason we were there is that we’ve been talking with a Canadian network about a new UK preschool show and we need to find a Canadian production company to partner with.

I have to confess, the prospect of partnering is difficult for a company like Little Airplane.  We have always done everything ourselves in-house, from creating the shows to writing, design, animation, voice-overs and music.  So the idea of surrendering a certain level of control scares us.

But while in Banff we went on a few first (and some second) dates with Canadian production companies and, I’m happy to report, we did feel some real chemistry with a few.  And by the time the famous Banff Barbecue rolled around, I had come to believe that Little Airplane could, in fact, find love north of the border.  After all, if a great show like The Backyardigans can do it, then so can we.

So, thank you, Banff.  I had a great time.  Thanks, Ira, I love what you’ve done with the place.  And thank you, Peter Vamos, for hosting such a wonderful conference.  I hope that you will continue with your Kids Day program every year.

And I look forward to seeing all of you next year at the St. James’s Gate Pub (if not at any of the actual panels).  The first round is on Little Airplane.  Sinking Ship will get the rest.

What were your impressions of Banff?  And if you didn’t go this year, why not?  I welcome any and all comments!


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