“It was like running a marathon everyday and participating in an episode of Survivor, but with lots of food!’
After Months of preparation I sat in the International airport full of excited nerves. Will the biggest companies in the world like my ideas…and me? Then the panic, what was I thinking, what am I doing?
For those that don't know, Kidscreen is where its at if you want to pitch your heart out! Or more formally via the website:
Kidscreen's premier annual event, which has quickly grown into the world's leading conference on the business of kids entertainment, hosting nearly 2,000 attendees from around the world. Top decision- and deal-makers attend to engage in critical dialogue, network and find new ideas that will drive their businesses forward.
...so no pressure...right?!
I calmed myself finished my wine and boarded the plane.
I was sitting next to the sweetest couple on earth, it was their 50th wedding anniversary…50! They had travelled all the way to NZ for their special anniversary. I had a lovely chat to them through my flight and asked where they went and the hot spots rang a bell, Queenstown, Rotorua and then Hobbiton. Oh yes I said I had the pleasure to work on all three Hobbits, their eyes lit up and they couldn't believe it, I tried to reassure them that most people in NZ have been an extra or worked on one of the Tolkien movies over the last 20 years, but my doubts did diminish a little…maybe this was worth it.
I don't sleep well on planes so as I rolled restlessly curling into my little ball as much as economy can allow, my head overthinking the next few days. Dorothy and Gerald held hands, smiling in their sleep blissfully happy with life.
The rest of the travel was not unhurddled with me rushing off the plane to be sick in the LA airport as soon as we landed (I don't eat well on planes either!) and almost missing our connecting flight to Miami due to a lost boarding pass (not sure what happened to that!) Finally made it...phew!
The Intercontinental Miami, what a location!! 4.5 stars right on the water! This would be the home to Kidscreen 2018 for 2000 delegates from all around the world, for those to pitch their hearts out for the first time and those that have been in the industry for decades.
I was sharing with a friend of mine (a 4.5 star hotel in US $ is not cheap!) the great thing about NZ is its small and everyone knows everyone. There were 15 kiwis there for the conference and we all either knew each other, have worked together before or at least had heard of each other.
Its Sunday night, midnight after travelling 13,000 kms, I looked around the hotel room, I realised no matter what happened I had made it, I was here, I was ready and prepped.
I turned the light off by the door, and not realising it turned all of the lights off in the room. That's ok the bed isn’t far away right, I can make it in the dark...bang!
I smacked straight into the wall corner, it didn't feel too bad, I thought, then felt something running down my face! I felt my way along the wall to the bathroom and turned the light on to what looked like a horror movie!! Blood everywhere! I quickly dabbed a facecloth, ok its fine, its fine, its just a cut it will stop bleeding...10 mins later its still pouring blood out, its like a boxing match wound, you know those ones on TV that never stop bleeding. Sigh….only me!
I head downstairs to the front desk, and ask for a first aid kit. I have never been hurt in the US before so all of a sudden I was surrounded by frightened looking faces that were looking at me as if I was a bomb that was going to go off!, don't worry I said I don't need an ambulance, I was just wondering if you have any plasters?, more wide eyed frightened looks, um so do you have a first aid kit?
A lady finally came from staff and sprayed a blood blocker on my face! Then I had to sign numourous forms saying I wasn't going to sue the hotel (that explained the frightened faces!) And that I didn't need an ambulance. They were super lovely and thank goodness they had an amazing first aid kit.
It would be fine right...makeup covers everything! - (And no sorry I didn't think at the time to take any photos of this part).
Day 01 - #kss18
Ok waking up to a big wound on your head could do a lot to freak a person out (thank goodness for the blood blocker!) but what was I going to do? I put on my pretty clothes, shrugged at the mirror, held my head high…what did I have to lose!
And the first day was definitely not to be missed, starting out with a bang by Seeing Aardman, Dreamworks and Sesame Workshop to name just a few. The air was buzzy but kind of like your first day at University, excited, nervous but you have no idea where your lecture halls are and which way up is the map! The hotel was huge with endless people and rooms and when you only have a 15min slot with 'THE' person you really don't want to get lost!
Day 02 - #kss18
Day 2 was different it was BUZZING! Everyone was at the top of their game and all best friends, probably had something to do with the fact that drinks each day start around 4-5pm and dont stop till well after midnight. It was really quite amazing to watch how awesome everyone was despite the crazy hangovers.
So Tuesday was CRAZY busy, any spare minute you filled up with someone walking past or someone from breakfast or now you had the courage just to walk up to someone elses table and say hi and start pitching, it was all becoming natural, and the fact that I had this hole in my head was a great ice breaker and it became a great party trick to draw in my new addition onto my business card which happened to have a picture of me on it! oh well...sometimes you just have to go with it! At least I will be remembered!
So yes, Tuesday. 9 Storey, E One Entertainment (Peppa Pig), Mattel, Marbel Media and wow pinching myself, dinner out with the amazing group of ladies from Aardman!
Day 03 - #kss18
Day three and everyone is in their groove. I really enjoyed the morning time, so despite the early wakeup each morning at 7.30 am and the sore head (not just from my wound) I made sure I was up and at the table. The food was amazing and it was open to everyone, I actually met some of the most amazing people at the breakfast table and CEO's of amazing companies that I hadnt heard of.
And those of you that dont know about my love for Starbucks Chai lattes it was on fire at Kidscreen. The hotel actually had one inside the hotel! A m a z i n g! I dont drink coffee so Chai was so good to keep me going and the people I would meet while standing in line at starbucks! I tell you, this is where some of my best pitches took place ;)!
So another amazing day of crazy talented people and companies giving me the time of day and listening to my ideas. DHX, Discovery, Lambur Productions and what really made my night, was dinner out with the Screen Writers Guild of Canada, I got to go out and see a bit of Miami and wow was blown away by this incredible table of writers!
Day 04 - #kss18
This is pretty much the last Full day, lots of people left that night or by lunchtime the following day.
By now I actually had stopped pitching, and one of the problems I found with being a producer is that I kept falling in love with everyone elses work. Its natural for me to just want to pick up a gorgeous property and just figure out how to make it. There was such great stuff, some of the time I forgot that I was there to pitch my own.
It was an incredible day, most the kiwis found each other and we got a group photo. It was so amazing to have others from your country there, I feel like that bond will last forever now.
There was a huge highlight for me on this day. I got to sit down with Nickelodeon finally who I had booked time with but due to the craziness we never got to find each other until literally at the last 30mins of the day as they are kicking people out. She came and found me and we had a fantastic honest chat about what they were looking for and why, and what they thought about my ideas. This is why you go half way around the world, to meet these people that can look you in the face from a place of sincerity and experience and tell you what they really think.
Was it worth it?
So the reason its taken me a few weeks to write down all of my thoughts is because I was still answering this question. Since I have got home I have been asked it alot.
The feedback on my ideas was mixed, some were loved, some were not. In a 30min space one person can totally contradict the other and leave you in a state of confusion.
I always believe in constructive criticism its always important to learn and grow and better your craft. But having said that, no one can predict the future, no one knows what will be the next Peppa Pig, Thomas The Tank Engine or Ben 10. All of the companies are going by what is happening right now. And half of the time its all about timing, being in the right place at the right time.
Every Industry is build on relationships and people. Some people will definitely get on the spot deals, right it does happen! Spongebob was signed at a Kidscreen, and there are many other success stories. But I went to see some honest reactions, to meet people and to start building those relationships. And to that it was a success!
So watch this space... I will keep going, I have more ideas, more books, more movies, more TV shows, the sky is the limit right? Maybe next time I can do it without a crazy cut on my head!
A Huge shout out to all my my amazing friends, family, Indie Authors, collegues who supported me getting there and while I was there. It really did mean alot!
P.S - The flight home had just as many hurdles with delays, broken planes, crazy Uber drivers oh but at least I got to sit next to these guys for 8 hours ;)
P.P.S - read this book - its great!