Josh Selig, head of Little Airplane Productions, emphasizes the importance of storytelling in children’s programs and aims to eventually help Korea become a wellspring of preschool shows.
/ Courtesy of Little Airplane Productions
By Han Sang-hee
Walk into a stationery store in Seoul and you will find numerous colorful office and home appliance products decorated with various characters and avatars. Korea is infatuated with unique and cute characters, but it requires a bit more to translate them to take on educational roles and acquire an international presence.
``(Korea has a) knack for designing cute adorable characters. From a design point of view, it’s probably the best in the world,’’ Josh Selig, head of Little Airplane Productions, told The Korea Times during an interview last Sunday at a hotel in Seoul.
Little Airplane Productions is a production company that specializes in making preschool television shows. First established in 1999, the company created the Emmy award-winning show ``The Wonder Pets’’ and continued to captivate young viewers with ``Go, Baby!’’ ``Oobi!’’ and ``3rd & Bird.’’
Selig was in Korea to attend the Chuncheon Ani-town Festival and the broadcast content trade show BCWW.
``I have become an ambassador for preschool television and so my business is really knowing what’s going on in the industry, which is also my interest,’’ he said.
Selig worked as a child actor on ``Sesame Street’’ as a preschooler and returned to the show as a writer at 24. While at ``Sesame Street,’’ he added filmmaker to his repertoire and also began working as a producer for ``Sesame Street’’ International, which has won him and his writing team 10 Emmy Awards.
Having been working in the industry for more than 20 years, Selig recognized the rise in interest in children’s programming around the world and also the importance of countries such as Korea in terms of exchange and program development.
``Korea has become the bridge between Europe and Asia. It’s developing very rapidly and also has better access to China, where children’s programming is growing. Korea and Singapore are really the places to look for,’’ he said.
Up and coming Korea may hold a lot of potential in the industry, but there are still important issues to deal with before it becomes a haven for children’s programs.
``I think the area that needs the most development is writing, or in other words, telling the story. Writing is the most important and also the least expensive part. Design-heavy cannot be beaten without the writing. (Korea should consider) what is the narrative art? What is the relationship between the characters? The show bible (for such programs) is more like a triangle. Design is only one part of the triangle and the other two are writing and curriculum. This is what is largely lacking in most of the preschool shows in Korea, but I do think that’s changing,’’ Selig said.
Some productions and producers complain that broadcasters do not carry their shows for various reasons, including time and financial issues. But Selig advises that local networks are not the only option.
``Don’t look into your own territory. Look into the international industry. (Korea) needs self-confidence to bring their shows to the global scene,’’ he advised. ``Local channels may be convenient but there are 150 channels out there. They want to meet you. Hits can come from everywhere,’’ he advised.