At last, co-organized with the Athens International Children’s Film Festival, the second session of the 4th edition of Kids Kino.Lab 2019/20 took off! 12 teams creating films and series for children and young audiences gathered in the capital city of Greece on the 28th of February.

The session started with a writing masterclass led by Kirsten Bonén Rask. After getting to Athens and a quick update on each developing project, all the participants (both writers and producers) were asked to sit down, open their notebooks and notepads, and… complete the writing exercise given by the tutor.
The task? Write the happiest and the saddest moment of the main character in your story.
The form? Free writing. No need of the screenplay format.
The time? From 30 to 40 minutes.
The result?
The producers and the writers approaching the film separately, yet working together in favor of the same project; both dealing with the same, well-established elements (characters, story arc, settings of the scenes), yet coming up with new ideas of their own. Deriving from the psychology of the characters in the stories and as a result of the time pressure and free form, new ideas were generated right away, which made room for exciting discoveries and a fresh approach to the films. All the groups could focus less on where their stories came from, and more on where they were heading.

Ronald Kruschak’s initial meeting with the producers also promptly got everyone back to work. With teams from the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, and Ukraine and Poland, quick updates and discussions on the current state of their national film markets were crucial and made for a good introduction to deeper discussions about the production possibilities. First producers’ sessions focused on discussing in detail the types of contracts between: producers-producers, producers-national distributors, producers-sales agents / international distributors, and of course… producers-writers.

At the same time, screenwriting tutors caught up with their groups on the work their writers had done in the last three months after the first Kids Kino.Lab session in Poznań.
In Kirsten’s group, teams shared feedback on each other’s writing.
Having established the world and the characters, discussions were mostly focused on the how to explain the complexity of the imaginative film world created for children and how to present the relationships and emotional character arcs with clarity. This left writers aiming to produce more material in line and spirit of what has already been written.
Meanwhile in Philip LaZebnik’s group, the screenwriters and producers of all projects dived into a deep analysis of each other’s detailed story treatments (“what works?”, “what doesn’t work?”, “why?”). With established story strands, acts, and turning points, not only did this give the writers tools and story elements to work with, but also added, developed, and deepened the story themes.
Simultaneously in the series group, Armin Prediger continued to lead the projects consisting in writing their episodic narrative in various lengths (from 5 to 20 minutes long episodes) and forms (live-action, animation, hybrids). While discussing all the projects during individual and group sessions, the participants needed to make sure that the chosen subject matters and character arcs per episode fit well in the arc of each episode and the whole season.

As writing can become a truly alienating process and as the challenges of production planning can easily get overwhelming, being reunited with fellow filmmakers who are going through the same process is invaluable. When on your own, it’s easy to put down your own work and challenge the ideas before fully developing them. But when together, especially for a limited time, it’s easier to find yourself inspired and just… work and generate content. As Kids Kino.Lab session in Athens ends on the 5th of March, everyone got back to work following what Kirsten had said during her opening masterclass: “even if you don’t think you’ll need it – just write. In one way or another, you usually find it useful later”.