Sunday, March 9, 2008
How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Kids Films
This weekend, my film, Good Morning, was featured at the BAMKids festival. This festival, now going on 10 years, is an offshoot of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. My little film (clocking in at barely over a minute), played to four sold-out screenings spread over the weekend. Each screening was followed by a Q and A, featuring Bob Charde (Good Morning’s composer), and my ol’ Nickelodeon-era animation pals Jen Oxley and Eric Weil, whose film, “Janie and Jerome in “Light’s Out,” was also featured.
The children’s film festival circuit is a curious affair. First off, it’s amazing to have your film shown to an audience anywhere. The curious part is when you realize the audience is mostly young parents with tiny tots in tow. Try saying that five times. Lurking among the family audience are a handful of industry people, including some network development executives and other international festival directors.
Are there bad films at the children’s film festivals? Sure. Same as Ottawa. At Ottawa the bad films will likely be independent films that are overlong, random, or seemingly pointless. But, an independent film doesn’t have to please you; it can simply just BE. The independent film, may be a narrative, might have a concept or characters or story, but it need NOT to be successful. The independent film has the choice of following any or none of the rules of storytelling. The one rule is, “there are no rules.”
No rules always seemed like a trap to me. I like creative rules on which to build a film’s structure; something that I can push up against or break through at will. Maybe this is why I respond to children’s films or why I have utmost respect for the medium. A great children’s film transcends the label, “children’s film,” and simply stands as great film, period. Immediately coming to mind is Gil Alkabetz “A Sunny Day,” (see picture above. The film's craft is near perfection; great concept & story, great timing/posing/animation, imaginative layouts/continuity, attractive design/color styling, tight pacing/storytelling, bursting with charm/humor, and featuring a killer score/sound design. For more on this film/filmmaker, go to: www.sunny.alkabetz.com
We all know animation is a stepchild to the larger film and entertainment industry. Yet, within this stepchild are other subdivisions. All too many of them are self-imposed. One obvious stepchild is the respectability (or lack of) in the area of children’s films. It ain’t never been cool to make films for kids. How ironic that unlike any other genre of independent animated film, only the “children’s film” has the potential to reach everybody in the audience.