Is it just me or does most of children’s television now get produced over endless, mind-numbing conference calls? Historically, we produced everything in-house at Little Airplane. We would sit around a big table, the writers, the directors, the educational advisors, and we would talk. We could point at pictures, we could re-record a line of dialogue whenever we felt like it, and we could reanimate a shot right up until delivery if we thought it would make an episode better. Everything, including our meetings with our broadcasters, were always held in person. We all knew exactly what was going on and, basically, life was good.
These days, like most kids’ TV indies, we have to rely on telephone calls to glue our productions together. We dial into echoey bridges, we exchange awkward small talk until everybody beeps in, and then we all try to understand what everyone else thinks the show is about. What’s missing is the most essential ingredient for making any preschool TV show: Good old-fashioned face-to-face communication among team members.
I’m sure I sound like a philistine today but, for me, the difference between producing a TV series in one studio and producing it in multiple studios is like the difference between preparing a home cooked meal and ordering take-out from three different countries and hoping all the dishes arrive at the same time and taste good when they show up.
There are a handful of companies who’ve mastered the art of making great kids’ shows regardless of how many continents their pipeline stretches across and we’re hopeful that we will join their ranks. But for a creator-driven company like Little Airplane and for a preschool TV diva like myself, this sort of production isn’t easy. I simply believe that making anything of quality: A TV show, a wooden desk, or a home cooked meal, requires a subtle alchemy that is much harder to achieve over the phone.