Little Creatures is a film production company founded by Kristin B. Eno that invites children (non-actors) aged 3-10 to collaborate with filmmaker/educators to produce videos based on the children's imaginative play.  Short and feature film plots stem from the children’s dramatic fantasy play, complete with costumes, props and sets made by the crew with help from the children. The children view edited versions of their video plays, narrate them and contribute to various post-production elements.  The finished products range in length from 5 to 60 minutes and are distributed to schools, museums and theaters around the world, and made available for purchase by families, with a target market of 3-10 year olds.  Through all of these videos runs the thread of representation of childhood as something beautiful, poetic, profound, and at times very introspective, and the beauty and power of the natural world to inform young children’s play and storytelling/myth-making. 

Little Creatures films are an example of a completely new genre of children's media, and the timing could not be better.  Currently, play as a component of children’s lives is a huge buzzword in the field of early childhood education (see New York Times Magazine, Feb. 17, 2008, NPR’s Morning Edition, Feb. 21, 28, 2008, NPR’s Speaking of Faith, Aug. 23, 2007, the University of Michigan’s Where do the Children Play? 2007, U.S. playgrounds such as Imagination Playground, breaking ground in NYC in 2008). 

Here are some of the voices that have come out of past videos:

    •  Sometimes you gotta walk slow for a reason.
    •  We put the seeds inside the dollies, so they could have more life.
    •  She's looking at something that we can't see.
- 4-6 year-olds, Sophie in the Trees (2 min., NY/VT, 2001), and Ark (15 min., NY, 2004)

The children Kristin has worked with have consistently come up with profound observations about the natural world and their place within it.  The quotations above indicate that these young children were accessing abstract knowledge as they told the stories of themselves or other children they saw on the screen.  Little Creatures’ videos are not like anything on television or in theaters; rather, they tell quiet, almost secretive, tales of children's explorations of the world around them. These types of statements by children are not something any films or TV shows for children have made a point to capture.  But hearing children’s individual poetic voices is something that all children need to experience, so that they and their parents can see thoughtful imaginative play as something valuable, valid, desirable and exciting, and hear real talk from children just like themselves, rather than more adult-written dialogue. 

Little Creatures Goals:

For Children:
• To encourage greater awareness of the natural world and a renewed interest in outdoor play.
• To own the power of their own creative ideas as manifest through spontaneous play.
• To have access to a new genre of children’s media, featuring children as co-directors, actors and narrators.
• To be empowered through education about how media is made; to see media for what it is:  a tool that children too can participate in making, so that they will not be manipulated by it.

For Parents and Teachers:
• To be a new voice in family entertainment, particularly in homes that value children’s authentic voices, in contrast to the stories given to them by current commercial children’s media.

Key elements cause Little Creatures films to stand out from existing children’s media:

• Children act out their own stories.
• There are few to no second takes, making for a more authentic video document of play.
• Kristin plays with the children (“Adult play facilitation”).
• Kristin shows the video footage, roughly edited, back to the children before making final decisions about the story sequence/plot, allowing them to shape the story further.
• Kristin records the children’s voices and re-edits this in as voiceover, so that the videos read as a narrated story, told by the children, using their own language choices, in their own voices.
• Kristin edits to attain a lyrical quality, without references to the world outside children’s play.
• There are no adult actors/play-participants.
• Kristin’s handmade props (dolls, boxes), organic objects (seeds, things made of seeds), and antique objects (old boxes, keys), provide elements of mystery that inform the children’s play. 
• The videos take place in the natural world, removed from modern life, providing a needed vantage-point into children’s vibrant relationship with the natural world, and strip away extraneous elements so as to see and hear the child’s thoughts and actions more clearly.

Little Creatures Films have received much positive feedback from educators, writers and parents over the past seven years:

• Kristin captured the authentic sights and sounds of childhood . . . she uses her camera as a lens
into the deepest inner-workings of a child’s mind . . .
Vivian Gussin Paley, author of 12 books on the lives of young children

• The remarkable videos made by Kristin are unique in their ability to bring us into the very life of childhood play itself.  Wonderful as tools for teaching the importance of play - or as a means to validate for children why their playing is always meaningful, these videos should be made available to anyone who cares for what learning and education need to be about – and could become. 
-   Richard Lewis, Director of the Touchstone Center for Children

• I believe that, in honoring children’s play, Kristin’s movies will also help audiences reflect and learn about the overall experience of being human. 
Olga Hubard, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Columbia University Teachers College

• I would gladly support more initiatives such as these that speak to the true essence of childhood and would rather put my dollars in movies and projects like these.
Kathy Malone, Clothing Designer and Mother of Milo, Brooklyn, NY


new kind of media for children


worthy investment