Planet Preschool

I Am Large

(Editor’s Note – The opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author. Any questions/comments should be directed to its author, Josh Selig, and not Magazine.) Getting ready for ...
October 5, 2010

(Editor’s Note – The opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author. Any questions/comments should be directed to its author, Josh Selig, and not Magazine.)

Getting ready for MIP is like getting ready for summer camp.  Everyone at the office fusses over me and asks me questions like, “Do you have your power adapter?” and “Did you pack enough business cards?”  I usually just shrug uncertainly, make my “homesick face,” and then my staff takes care of the rest.  I find that if I behave like a child they will treat me like one and this typically yields the best results for the company.

In preparation for MIP, I have been sleeping.  I’ve discovered that if I sleep a lot the week before MIP I am better able to stay awake while I’m here and I can even pretend to enjoy myself.  It’s important to look happy when you’re at MIP, particularly if you own and run an indie.  Most of the people who run indies are pretty unhappy and stressed out these days, so appearing happy is a fairly cost-effective way to show the industry that your business is healthy.  Actually, in the current economy, just being at MIP and wearing the lovely plastic badge around your neck is a pretty good indication that your business has weathered the worst of the kids’ TV storm.

Between my colleague Sharon Thomas and I, we have more than 100 meetings scheduled during our week in Cannes.  For someone like me who doesn’t like to talk, much less “meet,” this does not make for a week of paradise on the Cote d’Azur.  But this is the life that I’ve chosen, so I’ll go to my 50 meetings.  And I will speak.  And I will look happy.

I confess that being among my fellow kids’ TV lemmings on the Croisette does bring out my competitive nature.  You may not know this about me, but before kids media I was into sports, mostly tennis and soccer.  I was very competitive and, despite my current homespun Ben & Jerry’s branding, I still love to win and I still hate to lose.  (Which is why nobody I know will play Scrabble with me.)

By way of example, when I’m riding up the escalator in the Palais with my sack of show bibles, I like to imagine that I’m Rocky Balboa running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Though I’m only going to pitch the number two DVD distributor in Latvia, I feel like I’m heading into the ring for 12 rounds with Apollo Creed.

The unfortunate thing about this blog is that it creates this bubble in which I feel totally free to write whatever happens to be on my mind at that moment.  It’s only on Tuesdays at noon when the blog comes out that it hits me that people in my industry actually read this thing.  And then I think, “Well, that was really dumb of me to admit that I feel like Rocky when I go to pitch the Latvians.”

But I promised myself that I’d be truthful with you guys and share all of my unexpurgated preschool TV adventures.  I know that the blog has already earned me a few enemies, including one reader who apparently complained that the blog gave me an “unfair advantage in the marketplace.”  I found that really funny because, as far as my staff is concerned, writing this blog is a giant time-suck that mostly just distracts me from my actual job, thereby putting Little Airplane at a competitive disadvantage.

But I’ve become accustomed to the slightly schizophrenic existence that writing the blog has created for me.  (Or maybe the blog simply exposed it?)  I find that I can now openly bash certain areas of the industry that shall remain nameless on a Tuesday (licensing and toys) and then have a lovely dinner with these same folks on a Wednesday.  My friend J.J. Johnson who runs Sinking Ship Entertainment (and whom I respect immensely) thinks this makes me a hypocrite and he may be right.  I prefer to think of myself as a “pragmatist” or perhaps even as a “flexible thinker.”

Or better yet, to quote Walt Whitman:

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

And on that note, I settle into my cozy room at the Hotel Gray d’Albion in Cannes. I pack up all my bibles into my brown canvas bag as I have done on so many of these trips to so many countries across the planet. Some people say I should get a distributor and save myself the grief. Though there are some great ones out there, (like Julie Fox at AWOL who distributes “Tobi” for us), in general I have had very bad luck with distributors. After one or two markets they will invariably bury your beautiful show in the back of a phonebook of properties that date back to “Watch With Mother.” Your show will have a better chance of being found in a bottle on a beach than of picking up a new territory. I even had one European broadcaster tell me privately that a distributor would only give him my show if he took another show he didn’t want. That really got my goat. So, for me, being in Cannes is worth the jet lag and the schmoozing and endless fight for table space. At least I know all my children will be safe.

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