FeeFiFoFun is experiential ART by big artists for little artists. FeeFiFoFun is Catherine Malcolm Brickman and Marc Brickman’s creative brainchild that they share to inspire budding artists, poets, readers and writers, explorers, environmentalists, scientists and fun loving children across the globe and into imaginary galaxies.
Catherine studied at Stanford University and became a writer and producer. Most of her career has been creating commissioned works, documentaries and a Command Performance show for the Prime Minister of Canada for the world leader’s conference. She’s worked for several years helping to run film festivals (Vancouver International, San Francisco International, Sundance Film Festival) and she has also written children’s stories since she was eight .
Marc is a production and lighting designer / director, best known for his work with Pink Floyd. When you think of their legendary light shows, that’s Marc’s work. His first gig was with Count Basie, then Mohammed Ali. He started on the road with Bruce Springsteen, and the list of great artists with whom he’s collaborated is a pop culture history book. Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, and Whitney Houston to name a few. Marc’s grander vision for FeeFiFoFun includes a touring play space for children as well as an online role playing game that is an alternative educational system. As a complement to traditional education, the FeeFiFoFun model suggests a new teaching and learning paradigm that allows students not only to lead themselves but to be rewarded for learning.
So how are you finding your artists, designers and writers?
As a group, we have an incredibly eclectic network of creative people with whom we’ve worked or have met through other friends or colleagues. One of our most integral collaborators is Alan Aldridge. Alan is an icon in the world of graphic arts and design. He’s illustrated for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Elton John. He was Art Director for Penguin Books and is the Whitbred Prize winner for his best selling children’s book, Butterfly Ball. He is responsible for the brand identities of the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues. John Lennon dubbed him “His Master of Images to Their Majesties the Beatles.”
And can you give me background on how you got started?
Marc was in New York and was asked by friend to visit a play space in Soho. As a designer, Marc was exploding with creative (and safety) ideas. But if he was to create a new children’s center, he wanted a name for the project. FeeFiFoFun™ was born. Ideas for an interactive play space and toys led to developing stories and characters. We were discovered by HIT Entertainment during that first year. We worked with them for two years, even with the thought that Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine might be housed in the world of FeeFiFoFun. When Pat Wyatt, HIT North America’s Chairman left the company, we made the decision to leave as well. We took a break, and re-energized FeeFiFoFun as a digital project last year.
FeeFiFoFun is our PARK IN A BOX. We asked ourselves if we could bring the world of the ARTS to children without all the stuffiness. Can Shakespeare or Opera really be silly? Can words be turned into playtime pieces? Can colours really sing? Everything is possible, including the impossible at FeeFiFoFun. Like a child at play, FeeFiFoFun takes the world in its arms, shakes it, spins it and turns it upside down.
How do you come up with ideas for the site? And what do you think differentiates you from other kid’s activity sites?
Our ideas come from everywhere – literally. Our newest app MAKE ME MUSIC (due out in August) was inspired by two ideas that collided. I was playing with my daughter in a playground that has pots and pans tied to a fence. At the time, we were working on trying to create a music program. Those two thoughts found an intersection and boom — a sound garden was conceived. We expanded on the pots and pans to include classical instruments, tapping shoes, a mooing cow and world instruments. There are over two dozen instruments, all pitched and all real sounds (no computer simulated sound) and twelve different rhythm tracks.
FeeFiFoFun is the place that we really do have fun, so coming up with new ideas is never a challenge. This is our very own Sesame Street – with our own crazy characters and our own place to discover just about everything.
There are a few really great sites for children. Sesame Street is one of them. As a child, it was always my dream to go there. Many entertainment companies tour their character “shows” around the country – but that’s not really what kids want. There isn’t a child around who wouldn’t want to step INTO the world of their favorite imaginary places. Two things distinguish FeeFiFoFun from the rest. Talking “up” to children. Whether it’s “nonsense that makes sense” to a child’s ability to embrace divergent creativity or allowing “Big” words to find a place in the early learner’s stories. And, it’s our unique artistic vision that offers real pop art to children as well as music by composers/producers from the worlds of popular music and Cirque du Soleil.
How are you using social to reach your audience?
Social media is such a dynamic and fluid communication platform. We have two characters on Twitter, (as well as FeeFiFoFunMom), we’re on Facebook, Pinterest and we’ve just started a blog.
How many countries are you in?
I know we’re in Canada, the UK, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Australia, India, Greece, Japan, New Zealand…and we even have a follower in Antartica.
What has worked? What hasn’t? Do you have any lessons learned for anyone starting out.
If you’re not with a big publisher, or have a huge marketing budget like Nickleodeon or Viacom or Disney have, it’s a daunting proposition.
For anyone starting out? From our experience, do your homework. Join groups & forums. Some good ones are Moms with Apps, Parents with Apps, Teachers with Apps, Linkedin, university online groups (I belong to two Stanford groups), SocialMoms. Do your research on Facebook and Twitter-find out whom companies you admire are following and check them out. Read and chat with bloggers who review and support sites and apps. And don’t be afraid to contact app developers directly. When we decided to create apps, we first called Caroline Hu Flexor at Duck Duck Moose. She was hugely helpful and very encouraging.