By Josh Selig 27-09-2016
The founder and president of Little Airplane Productions imagines how a conversation with C21Kids editor Nico Franks would go ahead of MipJunior and Mipcom next month.
NICO: Thanks for chatting, Josh. Drink?
JOSH: Never before breakfast.
NICO: First off, I must let my readers know that I am not actually interviewing you. You are, in fact, writing both my questions and your answers all by yourself.
JOSH: And your point is?
NICO: I just want everyone to know that this interview is a charade. I don’t approve of it, and I sincerely hope my sub-editor kills it before it runs on Tuesday.
JOSH: Is that the gentleman who likes to use puns in his titles? Live and Let Buy? Bugs Money? Hark The Herald Angels Bling?
JOSH: Maybe he’ll just rename it Franks & Beans?
NICO: Let’s get on with the questions.
JOSH: As you wish.
NICO: Are you going to Mipcom this year and why?
JOSH: Yes, I’m going. I find the life of a kids’ indie to be rather mundane, so once a year I fly to Cannes to experience a flash flood, a pilots’ strike, or the eruption of an Icelandic volcano that deposits ash on my hotel. I require peril and Mipcom is a good chance to get me some.
NICO: You sound bitter.
JOSH: Yes, well, I’m still paying off the café au lait I had at The Grand last year.
NICO: What do you like most about Mipcom?
JOSH: To be honest, I love jogging along the Croisette in the evenings, turning left at the old Palm Beach Hotel, getting hit by the strong smell of salt water and seaweed, and then sitting quietly on a jetty and pitching nothing.
NICO: What do you like least about Mipcom?
JOSH: People who refer to children as ‘eyeballs.’
NICO: What do you feel is missing from Mipcom?
JOSH: Writers. Directors. Creative people in general. The environment at Mip is very transactional and buyers sometimes forget that it’s unwise to reduce a creation down to just its genre and number of minutes. That’s like describing a chocolate mousse by its cholesterol. I’ve always wished there was a touch of Annecy at Mipcom.
NICO: What are your plans for Mipcom this year?
JOSH: Day 1: Grovel for broadcasters. Day 2: Grovel for toy companies. Day 3: Argue with waiters. Day 4: Have a nap. Day 5: Apologise to Vicky Schroderus from YLE in Finland for the existence of Netflix, over which I have no control. Day 6: Pastry Binge and Purge Day. Day 7: Fly home.
NICO: Sounds like a hoot.
JOSH: Seize the day.
NICO: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since you began attending Mipcom?
JOSH: Well, when I first came to Cannes, I was pitching Wonder Pets. Now I am pitching to people who grew up watching Wonder Pets. Fortunately, I manage to maintain my youthful outlook by being immature.
NICO: No argument there. What are you pitching at this upcoming market?
JOSH: Mostly P King Duckling, a preschool comedy that Little Airplane is making with Uyoung Media in China for Disney Junior in the US. Thanks to some amazing new writers from New York and LA, it’s the funniest show we’ve ever made. I actually hired stand-up comedy writers to write this show. Most preschool shows aren’t funny. P King is very funny.
NICO: Are you noticing any new trends these days?
JOSH: There’s a trend towards content that assumes kids want to influence the outcome of storylines. But they don’t, and this was demonstrated by the demise of CD-ROMs, interactive e-books etc. Stories work for the simple reason that we cannot influence the plot. The events unfold and we’re forced to ride along with a feeling of fascination and helplessness. This is what builds the excitement and denouement. Once a kid starts to impact the plotline and change the direction of events it’s no longer a story, it’s a game. Or else it’s life. And humans enjoy stories mostly because they allow us to escape from life.
NICO: If you think I’m impressed that you used the word ‘denouement,’ I am not.
NICO: Any advice for first-time indies at Mipcom?
JOSH: Sure. Mip appears to be a cliquish, exclusive, competitive, unforgiving and cynical environment. And it is. But it’s also a place filled with joyful, creative, intelligent and genuinely supportive media executives who want nothing more than to see you and your project succeed. Be nice to people, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged, and remember that, in the end, it’s all about a good show. Without good shows, there are no networks, no digital platforms, no toys or licensing and no Mipcom. So, make a good show and the gods will forever smile down upon you.
NICO: Well, that seems like as good a note as any to end our fake little tête-à-tête.
JOSH: Agreed. I’ll have that drink now.
NICO: Me too.