How does locally produced children’s content compete with Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba? Professional script writers point out key factors.
"Taiwanese children are watching a lot of Japanese animations. Differences do exist between Japanese and Taiwanese cultures. Our children couldn’t see their daily lives or subjects familiar to them in the Japanese animations.” Ms. Pin Leng, Director General of the Fubon Cultural & Educational Foundation, is also dedicated to developing and making children’s programs. She explained that creating a good show for children is never easy. “We want the stories to be educational to kids without lecturing them, making storytelling and content development challenging.”
A lack of relevant training in developing producers for children’s content led to homogeneous shows
Taiwan does not have enough dramas or shows for children, which could be attributable to the lack of experienced professionals that produce children’s content. These producers often do not know how to work with children. They do not know how to guide children to express and perform naturally by creating various interactive situations and dynamics. The producers usually end up producing quiz shows focusing on intelligence competition between schools. As a result, the schools tend to select the best students to participate in such quiz shows. Some schools even purposefully trained and prepared their students for the TV shows, demanding students to memorize the answers to potential questions. These are nothing but the vestiges of credentialism.
Pin Leng also commented that producing children’s content/programs never seem to be a viable option for young college graduates with relevant majors. The majority are thinking about making movies or documentaries. Indeed, this has everything to do with our training and support in the systems. For example, does the government provide film subsidies or grants for producing children’s content/programs to encourage professionals to join the field? Are TV networks willing to invest in children’s programs, which may not generate the highest profits? The efforts and investment in making children’s content are indeed higher. We need to spend more time preparing and interacting with children actors and participants. Unlike professional adult actors, children cannot just act on cue. The shooting time is also more limited for children actors/ participants, especially when cooperating with schools. All these factors prevent investors from putting resources into producing children’s content/shows; consequently, limited experience accumulated in this field. In the end, we often give up and treat the making of children’s content/programs just like those of adults.
Aiming to address the challenges, Fubon Cultural & Educational Foundation initiated an incubation program for children’s content, MOMO Mini Incubator, in 2018. The incubator calls for production ideas for children’s shows and provides professional training for the producers to solidify those ideas into executable dramas or shows. The incubator also held the first pitching and matchmaking seminar for children’s content in Taiwan by the end of 2019, inviting incubated teams, investors, and production studios to work out potential deals for feasible projects. Pin Leng is keen to develop and introduce a new collaboration model to make producing children’s content more fun and sustainable.
Pin Leng also advised industry players that children’s programs have the potential to generate significant value by developing intellectual property. We have observed many examples from abroad. Good stories can easily be adapted into video games, novels, and comic books. Stories you walked into while still in childhood can influence you forever. They can shape your values and even consumption behaviors. The unmistakable popularity and significant value of Walt Disney’s Frozen series and the Japanese animation Sailor Moon are living proofs. The recurring popularity of Sailor Moon even prompted the creation of an array of co-branded beauty products. A few years later, these story-inspired products, like the ever-living Mickey Mouse, may become craved retro-collections for adults when the children grow up.