MIPTV: The Week in Kids
By Mansha Daswani
MIPTV has been steadily ramping up its slate of events for the kids’ community over the last few years. The expanded Junior@MIPTV segment this market included a focus on kids’ live-action programming, as well as a live action pitch. Among the panels was one focused on the challenges of funding live-action series. It kicked off with David Michel, president and founder of Cottonwood Media and head of Federation Kids & Family, highlighting Find Me in Paris, which was the first-ever Kids’ World Premiere Screening at MIPTV. The series, Federation’s first live-action tween show, is a co-pro with ZDF and ZDF Enterprises, among others.
The first season of 26 episodes was made with a budget of 12 million euros and work has begun on season two. “That’s a very high budget in kids,” he noted. “It’s a very expensive show and I’ve never financed a series that fast in my life! It took me triple the time to finance a 4-million-euros show. I think there are two reasons. The first is the script. Every time we shared it with a new broadcaster, they would fall in love with it. That’s how the show got financed quite quickly. And the second reason is the fact that there’s very little independent live action for kids. Premium live action for kids is a niche within a niche within a niche. So when you do come up with something that has great storytelling and a great cast attached,” broadcasters and platforms will be interested, he said.
Also on the panel was Cristiana Buzzelli, the senior VP of sales and acquisitions at Rainbow. The Italian studio’s first live-action show, Maggie & Bianca: Fashion Friends, is now in season three and has spawned two TV movies, a full consumer-products program and a concert tour. On Rainbow’s move into live action, Buzzelli said that as a European independent producer, “you always need to put yourself in front of new challenges. We were looking to expand our target demographics to 9 to 12, the tween audience. The time to market for live action is faster. And there was and still is a demand from the market.”
OTT platforms have become more important in the financing mix for live action, the panelists said. Maggie & Bianca sold to Netflix and Hulu boarded Find Me in Paris. “The reason we’re here talking about premium live action is because of the SVOD platforms,” Michel said. “It really started with Amazon commissioning very high-quality shows, many of them from Canada, like Annedroids. Amazon started with this trend of looking for compelling, high-end kids’ shows, and it’s something no one was thinking about at that time. Four or five years ago, most of the kids’ live action was multi-cam sitcoms coming from Canada or the [big global] networks. Then Netflix started commissioning quite a bit as well. Now hopefully we’ll have Apple as well.”
Veteran kids’ producer Joan Lambur, who set up her own outfit after leaving Breakthrough Entertainment, said that OTT services “are not making brand promises to the parents and children” the way that the kids’ linear networks have to, “so they have more freedom creatively. They’re able to go out on these limbs and do things in a way that’s not going to interfere with any non-existent brand promise they’ve made.”
This article continues here.
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