Here we have it: a guest blog from the Marketing Director for Nature – David Bond. We’ve long been fans of Project Wild Thing, so much so that their trailer (see below) inspired us to create our new Game off DoAction. I hope you enjoy the read.
Here’s a terrible admission. I recently realised that my kids (aged 3 and 5) are most excited by the television, or iPad – or any screen. More than hanging out with me, or any other temptations. I’ve tried the alternatives: cake, cameras, the zoo, parties. I’m making a feature-length documentary film about children and their lack of connection to nature. So I get to experiment on my kids.
When I got home from school, I wanted to drop off my bags and run outside to play. TV wasn’t a priority. There’s a tempting argument, partly responsible for the rising time spent on screens in schools, that technology is good for preparing children for the future. I agree in some respects.
But like much of my generation, I had little IT training at school, and I’m fine with technology. Is a childhood with increasing screen time and decreasing nature time ideal?
When I take my little treasures outside, I see them change. At first they look sullenly at me as if to say “What the hell are we doing here? The cartoons are on!” Thirty seconds later, they become carefree. Their eyes focus away from the 30cm zone that screens occupy. They become engrossed in the world around them. Nature, in its infinitely resolute glory, from dewy lichen to the Armageddon of a proper storm, lifts them up where they belong, where the eagles cry, on a mountain high, to quote Joe Cocker.
These embarrassingly hippyish thoughts (I’m a proud rationalist) prompted my decision to make a documentary, Project Wild Thing, to find answers. But what are the right questions? I’ve settled on these: Is nature really good for you? How? In a blind choice, why don’t children love nature as much as telly? Yet when they get dumped in it, why are they so happy?
Project Wild Thing is my attempt to dive into these questions. When I started, I only wanted to see what would happen if my kids went outside more.
I realised that the things children love and demand are shiny, and coprojecrnstantly marketed. Marketing seems like the best way to try to get kids to love nature as much as cartoons and iPad games.
So I’ve appointed myself Marketing Director for Nature, and spent the last nine months in my new role. I’ve discovered surprising truths about how we sell to children. But I don’t have the deep marketing pockets of Nintendo or Coke, so I’ve had to improvise.
Now, after three months of guerrilla tactics, I’m wondering whether I should be selling nature at all. Maybe it’s the one thing we shouldn’t advertise. If we can’t advertise it, how do we make kids love it?
I think I’ve found a way.
The film is almost done – we just need to shoot final scenes. But we’re still short of the funds to complete it. That’s why we’re on Kickstarter. It’s a platform where people pledge money to help complete the film, and in turn get rewards – like a free download of the finished film, tickets to the premiere, producer credits.
I believe the film can make a significant change. If you’re a parent, if you think fondly of your own childhood, or if you worry that many children now spend over half their waking hours on screens, please help. Or maybe, like me, you believe childhood should be muddy, carefree, playful and undirected by brands.
Once complete we’re going to take a campaign forward to 2015 in association with the National Trust, the RSPB, the NHS, Channel 4, Britdoc and others. We want to make it easier for parents and more enjoyable for kids to be outside, doing what’s good for them. This film is the start of something big. If you’re willing to help, please support Project Wild Thing on Kickstarter today.