Vedenneito Revisited

Vedenneito Revisited

Three years ago my friend, documen­tarist Petteri Saario (DocArt) approached me with an idea. There was a pitching compe­tition by SES and AVEK (Finnish Film Foundation and Promotion Center for Audio­visual Culture) looking for new forms of visual story­telling for children and he suggested we work on it together.

26 pitches were presented and four approaches were selected for final production. The criteria was that it had to be multi­media story­telling, the target audience children 7–12 years of age.

A unique concept, it was called Kids&Docs and it was searching for new forms of documentary story­telling suitable for children.

Ours was one of these four selected for production. We were lucky to have Elina Pohjola (then Pohjola Films, now Citizen Jane Produc­tions) as a producer for the project and — to quote Casablanca — it was a beginning of a beautiful friendship.

One never knows where things might lead… but in this case it has led to a lot.

Spinoff

A spinoff of the project is the full length documentary film which will have the premiere now this week Friday the 5th April all over the country.

There hasn’t been that many — if any — nature films targeted to this age group, i.e. pre-teens. At the time when these kids spend average 4–6 hours playing with their smartp­hones and practically no time outside in nature, one could say it was about the time.

This films offers an alter­native and it is much needed.

I really hope it finds its audience — and it seems I am not the only one with my hopes, as it is opening now on Friday with c. 50 copies in our theatres across the country. And for a documentary, that is huge.

My role in the production was minimal (i.e. simple web design) but I am very proud and happy I can say I was part of the team. As a photo­grapher one is so accus­tomed working alone that teamwork is really a refreshing change, makes you feel you belong somewhere.

Website

Here is the simple website I designed for the film — and it includes a link to the original multi­media we did three years ago.

It is challenging to create web narrative to children. I have no problem designing pages with lots of images, videos, animated graphics, diagrams, statistics, etc. – pages which are heavy on infor­mation and geared for grownups — but trying to think what would be something a kid might want to see as a teaser — and an infor­mative teaser — was really challenging. You don’t want to make it just enter­tainment nor simply sugarcoated pulp.

In the process, I abandoned several best practices such as leaving obvious “bread crumbs”, simple pyramid structure, etc, — in order to make it a bit challenging (read: interesting) for the children; and all in all, I am happy with the result.

It is responsive, works really smoothly with a cellphone (and this is where the kids do look at it) and on touch devices in general.

So if you have not seen it yet, you might want to take a look. 

But more impor­tantly: if you have children — or if you know any: do them a favour and take them to see a good movie now the coming week. It might kindle something in them, maybe inspire them to go out for a while.

And that would be a big thing. To make them realise that there is this thing called “nature” out there, it is all theirs too explore and actually worth a lot in terms of experience. Definitely a more interesting place to visit than the tiny screens they now seem to spend their lives in.

I hope — and I think — that I am not exagge­rating when I say that this was the reason why this film was made.

5th April. In all the major theatres in Finland.

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