Guest post: Why make a children’s film? By Danny Stack


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Most debut filmmakers stick to horror, comedy or drama as the way to showcase their talents. On some occasions, said writers/directors have no interest in horror, comedy or drama but they make one anyway as it’s the cheapest way get a film in the can. In this day and age of modern technology, anyone can pick up their cameraphone and make a movie. They could probably edit it on their phone, too. The downside to this is that the market is awash with debut horrors, comedies and dramas. A lot of them aren’t very good, unfortunately, because a lot of them aren’t made for love, they’re made to get noticed. But in a market that’s saturated with samey films, how do you stand out?

Tim came to me with the idea: let’s make a kids/family film. Use the resources and network we have to produce a film we would really love. Kids/family genre suggestions wasn’t so left field. I’ve been writing for kids’ TV for a good few years now. Tim has a very family friendly style to a lot of his work, and his BAFTA-nominated short is all about a young boy coming to terms with loss. dannytim For us to combine and make a kids/family film was a great idea. We thought about the kids’ films we loved when we were younger, films like the Children’s Media Foundation, The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, BMX Bandits (yes, BMX Bandits!). Interestingly, these films were all original ideas but more importantly they were kids’ films, for kids, with kids in the lead roles. Eureka! That’s what we wanted to do.

After a fun brainstorming session combining our love of Scooby Doo, Marx Brothers, Famous Five, Three Stooges, Little Rascals, and anything crazy/zany that’s just for kids, we came up with the idea for Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? It’s about four misfit kids who suspect that their summer camp’s mascot has been murdered so they set out to investigate – but they’re going to need all their child-like savvy if they’re going to solve this crime!

Tim’s experience in producing/directing a gazillion short films was instantly effective as he instinctively knew what to do, how to do it, and who to rally around us. Within a short period, we had a small team of around six people helping us with various bits of pre-production. We hadn’t even started on the script! Tim’s logic was: let’s finalise our resources, know what we can film, where and with who, THEN we write the script. Smart. Within a couple of months, we had found and booked our location, Tim got the Blackmagic 4K camera together (to shoot on UltraHD), we started casting, launched a website, had a small crew, a production office, and some local support.

We started writing the script in February 2014 (after a treatment, beat sheet development process), and momentum picked up. Not only that, interest in the project picked up, too. Nigel Cole, director of Calendar Girls and Made in Dagenham etc, got wind of the idea, read the script, and loved it so much, he’s now on board as exec/mentor. Fantastic! There’s no stopping us now. We start filming at the end of August and at time of press, we’re in the final stages of our casting process (we’ve seen thousands of local talent for the roles, and nearly 300 turned up for our open day audition!)

But why make a children’s film? Because we love it. It fits and builds our profile. And we want to make more films in this genre. We’ve used our resources and network to get us this far, now we need a little extra to help us through production. The inevitable Kickstarter campaign is now live, so support us if you can.

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