email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

INDUSTRY / MARKET Europe

Children’s take on cinema explored at KIDS Regio

by 

- The opening keynote at the forum in Erfurt, Germany, looked into how kids see their experience as film viewers, and what they expect from the cinema

Children’s take on cinema explored at KIDS Regio
Rikke Flodin during the panel (© KIDS Regio Forum/Steffen Becker Fotodesign)

There was a great deal of discussion around the definition of children’s films and children’s film policy during the fourth KIDS Regio Forum in Erfurt (26-28 June) – but what do children actually think about it? How do they see their experience as film viewers, and what do they expect from the cinema?

The young generation has a different understanding of what a film is: they think of it as a video or a short format. This is one of the most relevant findings of “Keeping Up With Children as an Audience”, a groundbreaking, new, pan-European study focusing on 374 children aged from 7-11. The children hail from 12 European territories, and the study is based on qualitative interviews, supplemented by quantitative research.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

It was presented by Rikke Flodin, a partner at PUBLIKUM.io, a Danish-based tool for audience awareness, in the opening keynote at the fourth edition of the forum. “Content makers for those ages have to bear in mind that length can be perceived as a barrier, as young audiences often start their media habits with series or short formats,” Flodin told Cineuropa. “Or, if you want to make a full-length feature, it’s a good idea to use short formats and socials (TikTok, YouTube, Roblox and so on) to capture kids’ attention because once they start watching a movie, then they often get very excited.”

Another pertinent point is that children’s engagement is mostly character-driven: “Characters are their primary hook into the stories. Kids look at their special skills in search of inspiration because the most interesting characters are in development, just as they are.”

The majority of the children responded that they mostly watched films with their parents or siblings, or the whole family, providing an opportunity for family bonding. The communal aspect of home viewing contrasts with the cinema outing, where the focus shifts to the actual experience surrounding the movie. The appeal lies in the popcorn, the big seats and the huge screen. As such, this is not necessarily about critically engaging with the film, but more about enjoying the ambience and the spectacle.

The research shows that a young audience looks for the same things when it comes to both film and series consumption. Differences in preference are determined by age, rather than by nationality or gender, and while local nuances that shape country-specific preferences can be identified, the young European audiences share more similarities than differences.

It is also interesting to observe that some stories about children are perceived as “not for them” by those interviewed. “There is a desire to position themselves as older [than they are], and audiovisual plays a big role in that,” explained Flodin. “My parents make me watch Little Red Riding Hood, and I can’t stand it!” said one child. There is strong interest in looking up and being challenged: some children said that one of the reasons they love Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 [+see also:
trailer
making of
film profile
]
is “because he’s older and has finished school”.

“In Denmark, a study by the Danish Film Institute shows that around 25% of young audiences watched Squid Game,” said Flodin. This attitude, in the long run, created a crack in what Forum participants defined as “the most perfect film law for children and youth in the world”, the Danish film law created in 1982, which established that a minimum of 25% of funding (for the production of feature, short and documentary films) was to be reserved for movies for children and youth.

This excellent baseline, however, might need some adjustments, explained Mariella Harpelunde Jensen, head of programme at Denmark’s BUSTER Film Festival for children and youngsters. “In the last year, only two Danish films for children were released in theatres and sold 20,000 tickets altogether – a flop. This happens because when we look at which films get funded, we see that maybe they are movies that children watch, but they are not about children. One example is the thriller Darkland [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.”

Another reason lies, paradoxically, in another best practice: the School Cinema scheme set up by the Danish Film Institute’s Educational Department. This entails a network of cinemas where schools can book screenings, selecting from a catalogue of around eight films per year.

“This has, however, become an alternative to commercial distribution because distributors, who get the same fee as they do with normal releases, don’t risk it any more and simply don’t put those movies on the commercial screening circuit. A good example of this is Comedy Queen [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sanna Lenken
film profile
]
by Sanna Lenken, which wasn’t able to make it to cinemas.”

The publication of the entire "Keeping Up With Children as an Audience" study together with the fourth KIDS Regio Forum full report, will be presented on 31 October at the Cinekid Industry Forum, during the KIDS Regio opening keynote.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

See also

Privacy Policy