The Children’s Media Conference 2011

A busy week meant that I could only make one day of this year’s Children’s Media Conference in sunny Sheffield, (what is it about that place? Its been glorious every time I’ve been there!)

With only one day to take it all in, and meet up with some people, I knew it was going to be a whirlwind. And so it was. I arrived just after 9, registered, realised I was too hot, decided there was nothing I could do to fix that (unless I wanted to get arrested) and set off for the first session.

This was a lighthearted look at some interesting market research, neatly wrapped up in a ‘Family Fortunes’ style gameshow, hosted by CBBC’s Ed Petrie. I’ll admit I was not familiar with Ed before, but he turned out to be a more than capable host, and a very funny ad-libber.

Next up was a masterclass by Jamie Rix, someone who has a really interesting and varied pedigree. He was a comedy producer for radio and TV, including Radio Active, Smith and Jones and Not Going Out. He also writes children’s books, and set up his own production company (initially Elephant Productions and now Little Brother Productions) so that he could produce adaptations of his own books for television. His successes include Grizzly Tales and The Revenge Files of Alistair Fury. Jamie proved to be an engaging speaker, honest and entertaining.

Lunch was an uninspiring sandwich (with very grey looking salmon) in a building that was the love-child of a greenhouse and a school gym. If it was hot outside it was nothing compared to the heat inside. I was supposed to be meeting someone there, but spent ten minutes looking for him only to discover he’d had to go into another session. Another few meetings and a chocolate cookie later it was time for the next session: a chance to meet the decision makers from the cultural sector and find out what sort of thing they buy in, and what they are looking for.

After a few more hasty meetings it was time for ‘Sell Out’: Can television brands be effectively exported to the the live space? Are the resulting shows shallow, cynical, money making exercises or might the worlds of commercial and artistic theatre ever collaborate? Sound a bit dull? Not a bit of it. This was perhaps the most engaging and stimulating session of the day, with the panel of speakers, ably guided by Will Brenton, telling it like it is.

The day ended with the obligatory gathering in the bar, where a gaggle of friends, old and new, raised glasses to the day. The mood was full of optimism, something that has been in short supply in the animation business in the last few years. The numbers were up considerably this year, and it was encouraging to see some meaty delegations from overseas, broadening what can sometimes be a bit of a British-centric event into something far more global.

I was sorry to leave, and really wished I was there for three days instead of one. Next year, next year!


Writer & Artist based in the North East of England.

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