Author Topic: The Kickstarter to bring back a real human voice to children's media.  (Read 2370 times)

DannyJoe

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Hi everyone,

I’m not sure if you have heard about my Kickstarter campaign, but I wanted to share some specifics about my motivation and goals. My mission is to serve today's families through truly interactive media in the way that Fred Rogers served mine through television during a long period of adversity in my childhood. My program is called, Tree House with Danny LaBrecque. Here’s the link to the campaign if you want to learn more: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dannylabrecque/tree-house-with-danny-labrecque/posts/1496049

Fred Rogers was the extra adult voice that my family desperately needed as we dealt with my mother’s long-term battle with cancer.  During this period, which my family has since recovered from, he helped me to understand, accept and manage my overwhelming emotions as my mother went into depression and my father turned to alcohol abuse. I love and respect both of my parents. They are both very strong people--inside and out. They were always there for me, but there was a time when we did not have extended family and friends close by as a support system and I needed that extra adult voice. A real human being.

I survived this time of adversity in large part because Fred Rogers gave me the tools to mention and manage my emotions. I’m sure you are well aware that there are families today in the same, if not far, far worse situations. Those are the families that I want to serve.  I consider it my mission and I take it very seriously.  I want to be more than just a host. I want to be a facilitator for family examination of complex subject matter.  I want to have more than just a show.  I want to offer an interactive program to foster, support and guide social-emotional learning and mental well being in the digital age.

Originally, my goal was television.  However, from what I’ve come to understand, after several years of trying to break into the system, children’s television (private, and to a degree public) is first a money-making industry. In the long term, it's a lot cheaper to animate vs. shoot live action when the commercial goal is to reach a broad audience. The current industry has shifted in the last decade into a content distribution business (rather than a pure content creation business).  It is easier to take an animated piece and dub it into another language than it is to cast and reshoot live action for an international market. Production companies want to make something once and sell it as many times as possible for maximum profit. They also want characters that can be marketed to children for a variety of products.  For a live-action host to be appealing to a production company/network, he or she needs to essentially be a one dimensional live-action (i.e. very happy) cartoon. Also, it’s a lot easier to test for outcome and validity with cognitive based curricula vs. social-emotional curricula.  There are exceptions to these rules, which have been grandfathered into the system (i.e. Sesame Street), but even they have to compromise to play the game.  There are alternative options if we look to independent producers (i.e. The new Reading Rainbow and The Mother Company’s Ruby’s Studio), but it's not the same--there has to be a hook.

In no way do I mean to demonize the developers and producers of children’s media, but as I was once told by an entertainment lawyer, “If you want to play the game, you have to follow the rules—you need to be willing to compromise.”

There isn’t a place for the type of communication that I’m interested in creating in the current system. In fact, as I’m sure many of you know, Fred Rogers once said in the later years of his life that if he were starting out in today’s (then the early 2000’s) market he wouldn’t make it.

I don’t want to compromise when it comes to the mental health of our children growing up in this digital age, so I tend to lean toward interactive media and technology as my point of distribution—in my mind it has become what television was back in its infancy.


To be completely honest--I still write to producers of mainstream children’s media about what I’m doing. Part of me feels that maybe I could change the system--bring it back to a simpler time. Ultimately, I just want to reach the families I hope to serve.

I’m including a link to a radio interview I just did with my hometown station WKAN in Kankakee, IL. We talk about why Eliot Daley encouraged me to mention Fred in my Kickstarter “pitch” and the moment when I realized that the mission to address the needs of children and their parents and caregivers was and is bigger than any individual. If you listen, I think you’ll have a very good idea of where I am coming from. http://youtu.be/u-aSGL_NeiY

My biggest fear is that people may think that I’m using Fred’s name for personal gain. I’m not. I know that I’m asking for a large sum of money, but if you take a moment to look up how much just one episode of a current children’s television show (any show) costs to produce I think you’ll understand the value of what I’ll be able to produce. We talk about this in the WKAN interview as well.

I’m also going to talk with Tim and Aaron tomorrow night (February 21) for the podcast and try to address any other questions people might have.

I know how important Fred Rogers was/is to us, so if you have any questions or concerns I’m available to talk. Just reach out here or on my Facebook page: Danny Joe’s Tree House

Danny
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 07:13:26 PM by DannyJoe »
Danny Joe

DannyJoe

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Re: The Kickstarter to bring back a real human voice to children's media.
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2016, 08:44:17 PM »
The interview went live tonight! Thanks so much to Tim and Aaron for their time and support. http://www.neighborhoodarchive.com/podcast/index.html
Danny Joe