Pow! Kidscreen is here! Depending on who you are, this is either the most exciting day of your life or yet another grim reminder that you took a wrong turn on the career highway. For some of you, it’s a chance to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and for others it’s a walk down memory lane by way of hell. Speaking personally, Kidscreen is just another excuse to get a haircut, hustle my projects and wonder if my ass looks bigger than it did last year.
If you know me in real life then you know that I don’t like to talk to more than one or two people a day so you can imagine how traumatic it is for me to be scheduled in back-to-back 30 minute meetings for two weeks straight. I liken Kidscreen and Toy Fair to the Iron Men of social functions. Some people like to stay up until dawn drinking and singing karaoke. I like to walk my dog and eat fro-yo with Mary.
Fortunately, there are many people I love who have just arrived for Kidscreen this week and it’s only the prospect of seeing their bright, shiny faces that makes the double whammy of Kidscreen and Toy Fair survivable. I also happen to be a preschool TV workaholic and I admit that the sheer relentlessness of February feeds my strange addiction.
Like many of you, I’ve spent the last few weeks getting ready for Kidscreen. I feel very much like those doomsday preppers on National Geographic who stock up on freeze dried meals, water and ammunition for when the power grid goes down. Only I’m stocking up on show bibles, DVDs, and press releases for when the doors to the Hilton open and the die-hard stalwarts from the global kids’ TV industry pour in.
I did get one revealing e-mail this week from a friend who is much more successful than I am. He said he was going to skip Kidscreen altogether this year and go right to Toy Fair because, he said, “I like to follow the money.” “Hmmm,” I thought. “Does he mean that there isn’t any money to be made in producing kids’ TV anymore?” Yes, I think so. It doesn’t take an economist to understand that if it weren’t for government subsidies, it’s unlikely that anyone would be making 52 episodes of anything these days. Our whole industry is on the dole and has been for years.
Fortunately for me, I’m 9 parts zealot and 1 part businessperson. Yes, it’s nice when one of my shows makes money but that’s certainly not why I make them. A long time ago I wrote in this space that the only kids’ companies that would survive would be the giants and the zealots. This has proven to be pretty much true. The giants survive because they are so beautifully vertically integrated. We zealots survive because the only thing we care about is making our own personal and relentlessly original content.