By Anthony Suen, the first recipient of the YMA Andra Sheffer Scholarship
Ahh, Kidscreen Summit—the Mecca of children’s media conferences that takes place each year in sunny Miami—is upon us. Panels and pitches, broadcasters and producers, sales and deals are rampant, as are chances to learn more about the industry and the players inside it.
Any first-time goer might be a bit rattled. Luckily, I’m in the same boat. As winner of the inaugural YMA Andra Sheffer Scholarship, I received accreditation to attend next week’s Summit. And in advance, I got the chance to hear tips, insights and advice from industry vets on what to expect when you enter the doors of the InterContinental Miami. And here are a few to share:
1) There is no business connection better than a good conversation
Sales are made and shows are bought at markets, but in between that a lot more can happen with just a hello. Stories are swapped, laughs are had and Netflix recommendations are most shared.
2) Sell yourself and your story. The ideas will flow.
The privilege of going to Kidscreen without the primary desire to sell a pitch or find a co-producer means the goal becomes representing yourself (and all the ideas that follow). Don’t worry about the pitch package or the list of back-up ideas. You’re there because you love the industry, so own it.
3) Your schedule is just a suggestion.
It’s great to prep. I’ve already got a color-coded spreadsheet ready. But it’ll change. Let the market floor guide you where fate demands. If things are boring, then jump. For every one panel you’re going to, there’s three others running at the same time. Don’t stress too much.
4) There’s always too much to see and do.
Multiple panels at a time means potentially missing out on some key insights. People in meetings will wish they could go to the panels. Those stuck in panels wish they had more one-on-ones. Grass is greener, but there’s always next year. Hone up on those follow-up e-mails.
5) Be present. Be open. Be kind.
Twenty to 30 minutes—that’s pretty much all the time anyone at Kidscreen has for anyone else, and about the maximum time you can get to make an impact on someone. So the key part is, be there in that moment, and take it in. Be a sponge. Absorb. And learn.
6) Just ask, and then listen.
A key part for me will be asking questions. I don’t lack them—I grew up with the shows produced by companies attending, and which aired on the networks looking for new ones. Filter them down to the ones you know will drive a conversation.
7) Two cocktails a party. Water after midnight.
This was a secret tip told to me by a mentor who I trust wholeheartedly with best market practices. I’m carrying her recommendations through down the line. Everyone has morning meetings afterwards. Even if it is Miami, book the extra week after for vacation time.
Anthony has been making fun stuff for screens since 2013. After graduating from the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, he’s traversed the digital world producing for games, web and cross-platform projects. Currently, Anthony watches cartoons for homework at Centennial College’s Children’s Media program.