How To Host A Children's Film Festival
When considering how to host a children’s film festival it should first be understood that unless you truly love children, the following rules should be considered as points of reference to be ignored. And further, it should be known that you’re working within the wrong genre. Otherwise, consider the following rules:
- Children are not inferior to adults. Understand that children should never be talked-down to (see: The Works of Louis Carroll); instead children should be treated as young adults where materials chosen are concerned.
- Children won’t watch just anything. Understand that if the works you choose to present don’t entertain you and other adults to at least some degree that they probably won’t entertain members of younger sects either (see: L. Frank Baum’s "The Wizard of Oz"). So a meticulous screening of every piece considered should be undertaken before hosting a children’s film festival.
- Children have lots of fans. Understand that those holding the wallets with funds to hand out where children’s programming is concerned are usually lovers of children…and suckers for allegedly “true art”. So make sure these potential financiers are presented with work that will make them interested enough to foot the bill where production costs are concerned. (And you can do so by contacting organizations such as your local PBS affiliate or PBS President Paula Kerger to get a feel for what they’re looking for when presenting a children’s film festival.)
- However, if you choose to avoid hosting a children’s film festival via television, there are of course other mediums to employ. And the most obvious of these would be a local theater.
- A privately owned venue like a locally owned second-run movie house will more than likely be your best bet (in that large chains aren’t usually as open to screening materials from distributors outside the current Hollywood Studio System). Or you might consider “creating” your own screening area by purchasing or leasing the appropriate equipment and features, then arranging for space at a local church or community center.
But when all is said and done, it should be further understood that when asking yourself how to host a children’s film festival that there are only a few simple issues to address:
- Know your audience. Children will not watch just anything presented to them. So choose materials carefully. A good rule of thumb here (as previously mentioned) involves asking yourself, “Do I like these films?” Further, you can find out more about children’s tastes by simply asking them what they like. Or if you prefer a sneakier approach, you can observe sons, daughters, etc. and note what they choose to view, whether the materials are through sources such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network or films at the local multiplex.
- Know your needs. By doing the proper research, you can define the appropriate venue, time, etc. to insure maximum viewership. And a good place to start would be the schedules of local schools. By consulting these, appropriate dates can be scheduled that coincide with brief recesses that won’t typically conflict with full-blown family vacations.
- Know your resources. Be aware of what is available in the way of equipment, personnel and potential audiences in the purveyance of a children’s film festival by consulting the appropriate sources. (These of course being stage and theatrical supply outlets, local repertory theatre groups and other such pertinent businesses and organizations.)
When all is said and done, know that writers, filmmakers, producers and the rest of those involved in producing pieces intended for children should understand that this isn’t a genre where someone gets rich (monetarily), but instead makes their mark through quality and respect—while remembering that the youngest of our species is more than likely the most valuable of our current resources…so should be treated as such while providing entertainment for them.