By Linda Beck
The 2012 KidScreen Summit was held this past week in NYC. This year's Key Note speech theorized on how great leaders inspire action by way of their own beliefs and purposes. (You can watch it in its entirety in Ted Talk format here.)
Many of the KidScreen Summit seminars and sessions seem to be cleverly related spin-offs of the theme introduced by the Key Note Speaker. For example, at the preceding panel, "Like a Boss: Honing Your Leadership Skills," Executive Leadership Coach Kate Ebner offered some complementary advice: "Lead as yourself. Lead as who you are and be smart." At other sessions, speakers echoed repeatedly the importance of believing strongly in the power and benefit of the property or idea you are pitching.
The series of lectures categorized as "Kid Insight Track" armed property creators with age group specific research, stats, and favored trends: Stacey Matthias from New York-based Insight Strategy Group profiled the evolving needs and social patterns of 9-12 year olds: their need to laugh, feel smart, indulge in playfulness, test out teen social behavior, test boundaries, and strive to emulate hyper-talented role models. Tomorrow's Child's Jacqueline Harding provided insight about the brain function and development of 2-9 years olds. As computers do more and more of the left-brained work for us, she stressed the need to create children who are creative, right-brained thinkers; children who have "the emotional resilience to be able to find the right solution to the world's problems." The packed "30 Minutes with..." sessions offered a unique opportunity to hear Network-specific tips and tricks from Acquisitions and Development Executives in an intimate setting. As a comprehensive companion piece, KidScreen once again offers its resourceful Global Pitch Guide. Do yourself the favor of a shortcut and download it. In addition, this year's “Mentor Meetings”, where you could drop by for professional advice from industry experts, offered guidance on a number of business-related topics: co-producing & financing, distribution & sales, licensing, interactive, and development and pitching. "Speed Pitching" granted property creators ten minutes at a time to pitch their ideas to a series of broadcasters and investors, and the audience favorite "Pitch It!" allowed four pre-selected project creators to pitch in front of a panel of development executives (and also this year a diverse team of parents) and hear feedback. Breakfast and lunch was served, coffee and tea were in constant supply, and between or in lieu of sessions and panels, attendees could take a break, conduct meetings (both scheduled and impromptu), and visit sponsor booths.
Each year, the entire lounge area is sponsored by a particular partner and decorated richly with logo-laden cut-outs, pillows, screens, etc. The 2012 lounge offered an opportunity to mingle not only with a gamut of cultures and countries, but also with a number of different species, as the sponsor was SeaWorld Kids. Many were at first baffled by the major SeaWorld interest in KidScreen, but along with the two penguins, lemur, eagle, and spoonbill, SeaWorld revealed a new division directed to venture into just the kind of multi-platform media KidScreen is famous for shepherding.
So, should you be going?
It depends on what you do and what you're trying to achieve. Taken directly from the KidScreen Summit website, here's who attends: TV Programming, Acquisitions & Development Executives, Producers & Creators, Distributors, Retailers, Licensors & Licensees, Marketers, Digital Media Content Creators & Distributors.
If you don't fall under one of those titles, all is not lost. There is certainly plenty to be learned at the panels and sessions. KidScreen, however, is not like the Ottawa International Animation Festival for example, where attendees pack their days trying to make every screening and somehow eat in between, and the major hobnobbing is done at casual, planned events like the picnic.
To get the most out of KidScreen, you need to set up as many meetings as you can ahead of time and on the fly with other delegates and/or companies. In order to have meetings, you need to have something to talk about and that's usually a property you'd like to pitch or an idea of what you'd like to option and with which you'd like to partner. The opportunities are there, but dance cards fill up quickly.
Before entering that credit card, ask yourself if you're ready to make the $1,395 you spend on your KidScreen Summit pass count.
It really comes down to whether or not you have the hustle.