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A first-timer’s view of the Children’s Media Conference

Corinna Booth from BTI Studios reports back from this month’s Sheffield event.

The proud boast of the Children’s Media Conference (CMC) is that it is the only gathering in the UK for everyone involved in developing, producing and distributing content to kids – on all platforms. Fair enough, I thought.

Let’s see what CMC can offer a first-time visitor from BTI Studios, a company with an essential but low-profile role in content provision: localisation (many of you will know it as dubbing and subtitling).

Localisation was not my specific reason for visiting CMC. However, we at BTI are seeing extraordinary growth – and localisation opportunities – in entertainment provision across terrestrial, cable, satellite and online platforms, and that includes properties for young audiences.

I was at CMC to find out where kids’ content is going and to meet people who are taking it there.

And I did.

The first thing I should say is how well-run this conference was: relevant information was available well ahead of time, apps and maps were supplied, all the sessions were well signposted and there was no shortage of helpful volunteers on hand to provide guidance.

The whole event was very friendly. The special first-timers’ drinks reception on the first evening was a nice idea and (speaking as a newbie) both welcome and useful, as was the day two Pizza Express dinner, which was informal enough for solo visitors (me again) to mingle and chat.

Enough of food and drink (for now): how about the conference? Well, there was an excellent mix of sessions going on during the day from a strong and diverse slate of speakers and panellists from major broadcasters, production companies and research groups. Oh yes, and Dick and Dom were on hand to round the whole thing off with a lively and amusing closing keynote.

It felt a bit like Glastonbury: with lots of good options to see and hear. Unlike Glastonbury, however, the sessions at CMC were spread across four venues that were all very close by.

A couple of standout sessions for me included the fascinating Reflecting and Serving Neurodiversity. This panel focused on Pablo, an animated series led by a character who has autism. Staying true to the content, Paper Owl Films cast Pablo using actors who have autism. During the session we saw video interviews with the young voice actors and live contributions from two of the writers, one of whom, Sumita Majumdar, had experienced a late diagnosis of her autism. It was fascinating to hear Sumita’s perspective on the writing process, and, given this context, the clips we viewed from Pablo were poignant as well as funny.

A very different, but equally engaging session called Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, was a Dragons Den-style event for pitching to commissioners. It was, of course, very entertaining but it was also illuminating to see projects at different phases and with various target audiences.

I could also mention the generous and varied lunch menu for conference attendees and the excellent show party, and offer an insider tip on a good bar to visit after hours (the Mercure). But CMC was mainly about networking, learning and doing business and it succeeded in this triumphantly.

The overarching theme of the conference was openness, a theme wholly consistent with the atmosphere at the event. People were approachable, happy to chat and passionate about their craft – without taking themselves too seriously.

Corinna Booth is marketing director and sales manager EMEA at BTI Studios.

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