This is Joanna’s 7th year of judging the Childnet Film Competition, find out more about her role at the BFI and thoughts on judging the Childnet Film Competition.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at the BFI?
Hello, I’m Joanna van der Meer and I’m Film Tutor and Family Learning Programmer at BFI Southbank – which means I teach filmmaking skills to both children and adults – anything from animation to film editing and everything in-between. I also programme children and family activities. My background is very mixed – I’ve had many jobs including being a zoo keeper! (I looked after the monkeys)… I also worked for the animation company that created the Wombles and have worked as a film extra and film location caterer.
Why do you support the Childnet film competition?
The Childnet Film Competition is a wonderful initiative which encourages a positive evaluation of how the internet is used by children – it’s a great medium for children to show this through the films they create. It’s tremendously uplifting.
We all know there is a lot of negativity about the internet, especially social media but Childnet allows us to understand that children embrace the potential of the medium as a force for good – which of course it is! I’ve always been impressed by the scope of the films presented that really do display this.
I’m very pleased to support the work that Childnet does.
Why do you think film works well in teaching important messages?
Film communicates – it is a multi-layered medium that children love – what parent hasn’t witnessed their two year old being able to operate the DVD player to put on their favourite film, or ask for their favourite TV programme (that they watch over and over)? – it’s amongst the first thing that small children communicate to their parent/carer! Because it is multi-layered – including audio, sound effects, mise en scène, story, drama, art, craft – a whole raft of sensory experiences – it is a fantastically inclusive visual medium which is capable of sending powerful, informative and even emotional messages in a format that children can relate to and enjoy.
What do you enjoy most about being a judge for the Childnet Film Competition?
I really enjoy seeing the scope of ideas and it never fails to impress how children convey these using video. Whether they be drama or animation or mixed media, the quality of entries never fails to impress and to be honest, it always gives me ideas to bring into my work! I also enjoy being part of something where children are rewarded for their hard work and commitment and this is always very satisfying.
And finally, can you tell us what you’ll be looking for in a winning film?
What I look for is an original, strong story that conveys the message in an innovative, well thought through way. Less important is technical competence although I always look for good audio quality which will definitely get more marks from me! I know how tricky this aspect of filmmaking is so I appreciate care taken over this – and I respect attempts to address problems with this – using a recorded narrative and subtitles for example.
Find out more about entering the Childnet Film Competition