By Sharon Lin, Editor-in-Chief
Julian Lai and David Child have had a lot of experience in media. Julian’s previous jobs included being a Marketing Manager at Men’s Health Magazine and Twentieth Century Fox, where he gained experience working with marketing strategies and creative productions. David has worked as a creative director for Trapdoor Productions, working in post-production for the Australia-based company.
On May 22, 2014, they launched a campaign to raise money to start a show that would feature the adventures of children as they discovered what they wanted to be when they grow up. When I Grow Up plans on recruiting real kids and their parents for the show, as well as documenting the endless opportunities available to kids for their future careers. You can learn more about their show at http://www.whenigrowup.com.au/.
Amazing Kids! Magazine decided to interview Julian Lai to learn a little more about how he was able to start up such an ambitious endeavor.
AK!: Hello, it’s so nice to meet you! First of all, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Julian Lai: Yes. My name is Julian and I’ve been an independent producer for about three to four years. I used to work in the film industry for Twentieth Century Fox Films and in the vampire movie industry.
AK!: What got you interested in creating this TV show?
J: Basically, it was one of my co-producers [David Child] who had this idea of looking into what people do for their careers, except from a kid’s point of view, when you were young and still fresh, and when you still had that innocent view on what you wanted to be when you grew up. We decided just to go ahead and make the show ourselves.
AK!: Have you worked with children before starting this project?
J: Yeah, when I was younger, I used to work at the local YMCA as a camp coordinator. I also used to be a basketball coach for kids. I’ve always done a lot of work, especially volunteer work, with kids that age.
AK!: How are you planning on recruiting the kids for this TV show?
J: We have someone specializing in networking with local schools, local community clubs, and right now basically shortlisting candidates for the show. We go through a process by looking at their past activities, what they have done in school, what their parents and teachers recommend, and we shortlist them that way.
AK!: Has any other TV show like this been created before?
J: Not as far as we know. We’ve looked around Australia and other English-speaking territories and haven’t come across a concept like this. Even though it sounds really simple, it really hasn’t been done before.
AK!: Can you tell us about the production of a TV show? How are you going to get this on TV?
J: Basically, with Whne I Grow Up, the process started out with the idea. Then we went through a pretty rigorous process actually coming up with the show structure, which basically looks at how each episode will be formatted. For instance, with When I Grow Up, we know that there will be two children in each episode – a boy and a girl – and that the jobs will be shortlisted for them to decide what they want to follow. From there, we came up with a rough initial episode outline. To execute that, we had to find the kids, the jobs that will take them through the process, and then run the episode through post-production to trim it down to a 22-23 minute episode.
AK!: How will you be getting this show on air?
J: With Kickstarter, we’re actually flipping [the process] around and doing it the other way. We’re funding the production through all of the parents we talk to. Then we’re getting the episode series produced. From then, we’re taking it to the networks and getting it on air, rather than trying to get a commission and getting the cash up front. This process makes it a lot cheaper for networks, and [thus] they are a lot more open to actually airing it on TV.
AK!: Has work on the project started yet, or are you still working on funding?
J: We’re still working on funding the project. The idea is to reach out to more parents over the next few weeks. Whether it’s five dollars or twenty dollars, it all helps us to get close to a production budget.
AK!: What do you hope kids will gain from watching this show?
J: We are hoping that the show will stipulate a bit of imagination in the kids about trying new things and about getting creative.
AK!: Where do you hope to take this project?
J: The objective is to produce this for all the parents who helped us get this project off the ground, as all backers will receive the full series to watch with their kids. Then we will try for the TV networks and aim for a broader audience that way. But first priority is for the parents who contributed.
AK!: How have the parents contributed, specifically? Do they appear in episodes with their children?
J: The parents can contribute via Kickstarter, so their donations go to help the funding of the show. For the parents who have kids on the show – yes they will appear to talk about their children’s interests and hobbies
AK!: Do you aim to have this series produced internationally, or will it remain solely on Australian television channels?
J: The first series will be produced in Australia, but we want to get it on global networks – especially in English speaking territories: US/UK/Canada/New Zealand. If the series expands to get produced in other countries – that will be a great get for us!
AK!: I am excited for that to happen! Do you mind if I mention the Kickstarter in our article?
J: Absolutely, please do mention it! Let me get a link for you too. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1975285492/when-i-grow-up-a-kids-show-about-what-you-can-be
AK!: Thank you so much!
J: Thank you! Have a good evening.