Access to Children’s Film – Report

Wednesday 23 September 2015 2:51pm by Toyin Ayinde


Edward Fletcher, Managing Director, Soda Pictures (UK)

Matthieu Zeller, Producer, ‘Octopolis’ and Former EVP International Marketing, Distribution & Business Development, StudioCanal (France)

Anja Horckmans, Communications and Marketing Manager, Jekino (Belgium)

Reinhold T Schöffel, CEO, German federation of young audiences’ film clubs Bundesverband Jugend und Film/BJF (Germany)

Moderator: Tonje Hardersen, Director, Norwegian Film Festival (Norway)

Take aways:

Watching films together in a group and experiencing the cultural events should be maintained and promoted. VOD wants to privatise this pastime.

The job for marketing these days will in turn be to help parents make a choice between VOD and cinema trips.

Children are not consumers but trust-sumers and should be treated as such


Two opening presentations:

Edward Fletcher

Edward explained Children’s Cinema Club, a virtual film festival for children across the UK. This initiative is supported by the BFI in an exhibition and distribution partnership.

In regards to film festivals and marketing, Edward pointed out the majority of adults marketed to regarding films are also parents and money is needed to reach this audience. Working in partnership with festivals is a beneficial way to approach this demographic successfully.

He briefly touched on the following four issues which create issues in film consumption in the UK;

  • Netflix and the VOD culture
  • Expensive cinema costings reflecting low engagement
  • 20-30 yr old demographic no longer high in cinema visits
  • Sales and distribution market

He closed on partnership with film education charity, Into Film, helps with film accessibility and marketing for children and young people.

Reinhold T Schöffel 

Reinhold followed Edward and spoke about Germany not having films pass into the market as was considered low in commercial value. TV captured more audiences in the ’60s instead of buying films.

Reinhold aimed to challenge and change the previous notion and BJF a partnership with Schlingel helped raise the profile of film enhancing and cultural awareness.

He explains the partnership with Children’s Film:

  • Theatrical distribution brings audience experience and targeted marketing
  • Non-theatrical distribution allows for an educational angle as well obtaining good feedback on what children like to see
  • Television allows for broadcasting publicity
  • Home made distribution contribute to licensing and assist in longer film life
  • International film festival and children and young people

Now there is a bigger variety of children’s film in German-speaking countries which in turn provides more recognition, and engagement with the political climate supporting film funding for children in the country.


Anja and Matthieu joined the panel, with Moderator, Tonje for a discussion into the accessibility of children’s films.

Anja is welcomed and briefly mentioned Jekino, a Flemish film festival, which helps increase the experience of film for children in cinemas, parties and workshops. She stated cinemas are interested in the educational angle and are keen to host and partner.

Matthieu spoke about Studiocanal and its international marketing and distribution activity, but pointed out that he prefers to market films to families not just children. Marketing is also focused on the rules of the country you aim to target for a good worldwide uptake. He explained statistics from a US study that children between the age of 0-8 have free access to handheld devices and in turn, to content. With the Netflix culture, parents are more inclined to share content with children. The job for marketing these days will in turn be to help parents make a choice between VOD and cinema trips.

Tonje interjected and pointed out that we are living in an access world, and content is easily accessible. She continued to state there needs to be new ways in getting content out there via distributors. With that in mind, a question is raised towards Anja.

How does the future look for Jekino?

Anja responded that with the combination of education and distribution is strong. Will this have a disadvantage on income? Not really. VOD works and gives 50% more income not previously received, and DVD sales have not declined so much so far. A change in strategy is not needed yet.

Reinhold commented, that’s it’s all about accessibility vs. visibility. Marketing is the key.  Marketing goes a long way to secure a product’s place in the market and creative marketing is needed for film. Marketing needs to focus on what is special about film. Watching films together in a group and  the joint cultural experience should be promoted.  VOD wants to privatise this pastime – making it a lone, home based experience – so film needs to push its USP.

Raising another discussion point, Tonje asked whether film should then focus on families and forget teenagers. Matthieu strongly responded that the US have a huge stake in the teenage demographic and Europe need not battle for this audience.



Tonje began and stated that new markets are opening in distribution. How will Europe fair?

The European distribution sector is rapidly changing, Edward responds, the big thing is for Europe to work on an international scale. Anja added that the educational work adds to the distribution model and makes it stronger.

Tonje added lowering the price to attend cinemas would work in getting families back into cinemas.

With regard to collaboration in Europe, what is being done?

The panel all responded that working with ECFA makes the collaboration possible between festivals and practitioners.

Tonje asked the panel whether originality is lost if projects become international.

Matthieu disagreed. Although understanding there are cultural differences, European films can, and are, seen around the world. For example ‘Harry Potter’ franchaise. The cultural diversity in Europe gives the distribution companies an edge. However, we in Europe praise and celebrate these differences but they not widely understood in the US.

A general comment from the audience raised the important message that children are not consumers but “trust-sumers” and should be treated as such.

Conclusions: more cohesive work between European countries is needed to get the film culture back on track and accessible to young people. And it’s vital to keep the group-viewing experience alive.


Toyin Ayinde

Events Coordinator, Into Film
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