Mar 12

Selling plastic


An old story from back in 2009 here. I didn’t have this site up then so here it is, a few years late…

As Chairman of the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland’s Animation Alliance, I had to address the Guild at the 2009 AGM. Just an update on what our group of directors was doing and how things were in our end of the entertainment world. I mentioned at the time that, after a meeting with the Irish Film Board’s then Chief Executive, I came away concerned by what I felt was a dismissal of television for young children.

At which point, someone chimed in that it possibly had something to do with children’s television just existing to sell plastic and that the IFB shouldn’t be supporting it.

How does one react to that?

Well, if I’m anything to go by, one initially gets flustered and then explains that television for young children is the most important television of all and cannot be dismissed. Children are learning, they do watch television and the television we make for them can affect their whole world view. And more eyes are seeing our shows each week across the world than probably any other content from Ireland.

As for selling plastic?

What likely rubbed me up the wrong way most about this accusation is that, for portions of the global industry, it is true. It often has to be true because the economics of making a children’s show rarely work on their own.

All the more reason why public funding bodies must get involved in supporting GOOD children’s television. Television that exists to provide children with good quality, enriching age-appropriate entertainment. Culturally-relevant, even better. Educational, better still.

The more support that’s there for local content, the less children’s shows are bought in from elsewhere. The less those shows have to rely on licensing and merchandise to justify their production costs. The less anyone needs to think about selling plastic. Children’s shows selling plastic is precisely why local funding bodies can’t dismiss one of the most important areas in programming.

Today, several years after that little AGM incident, we have a new animation team starting on COSMO. It is going to be a busy day and an exciting one. Because we’re all working together on a show that exists for one reason: to give children the absolute best. We are very fortunate that it can exist for that one reason and, as it happens, we have the Irish Film Board to thank for that, especially Emma Scott and Andrew Meehan. The IFB were so supportive of COSMO and put so much faith and funding into the show that it simply would not have happened without them and it is why we get to make a show right here in Ireland, with an Irish creator, writer, director, all the top-line creative processes being done here in Ireland, the animation team being right here and, from a business perspective, all ownership remaining right here. For all the right reasons, it matters to Ireland and yet it’s a show that can give to children all over the world. If Fluffy Gardens is anything to go by, it will travel.

Right now, our little area of children’s TV is the poster child for Irish production in many circles.

The support makes all the difference. It makes a difference to sustainability, to the types of shows we can make and the reasons we make them. It makes a difference to children here and, hopefully, to children everywhere.

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