February 24, 2006

Metrocom International Begins Production on Where Do the Children Play?

One-hour documentary to explore children’s physical and mental well-being in an environment of continuous sprawl and erosion of natural play landscapes.

Ann Arbor, MI- Production on Where Do the Children Play?, a one-hour documentary for public television, will begin this spring.

PBS affiliate WFUM-TV, part of the University of Michigan’s Michigan Public Media group, is the sponsoring station.

The film will examine childhood today, the importance of play and how a disconnection from the natural world affects children’s cognitive, behavioral, and physical health in an ever-changing metropolitan landscape.  The latest research from leading health experts, educators, urban planners, artists, and environmentalists is combined with honest stories from children and parents alike to help better understand the realities of dwindling green spaces and increased indoor play.  With this lack of physical activity, one third of school children are overweight and, when they reach adulthood, one of every two children are at risk of dying prematurely from preventable cardiovascular diseases and cancers.  Further, parents’ heightened fears of crime and perceptions that the world is becoming increasingly dangerous, despite statistics proving otherwise, are keeping children indoors and under a watchful eye.  Where Do the Children Play? demands to know what happens when children become disconnected from the natural environment—what happens when parents’ fears result in only ten percent of children nationwide who walk or bike to school, what happens when obesity-related illnesses reach epidemic proportions, what happens when the overwhelming technological age begins to affect children’s behavior and concept of reality, and what happens when vanished tree forts and snow dens give way to lapses in essential developmental processes.

Where Do the Children Play? is fully funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, the Ruth S. Mott Foundation, and the President’s Office of the University of Michigan.  Shooting of the film will begin in May of 2006 and will end in December of the same year.  The film will be edited in early 2007 and will air on Michigan PBS stations, with potential airing on national PBS stations.  It is written and produced by Christopher Cook, founder of Metrocom International, who won five regional EMMYs at the 2006 gala and who wrote and produced the critically acclaimed and EMMY Award-winning PBS documentary, Sprawling of America.  Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough, the Project Advisor for Where Do the Children Play?, is a professor at the Residential College at the University of Michigan and is the author of Secret Spaces of Childhood.  Goodenough is also the co-editor of Infant Tongues: The Voice of the Child in Literature and Children’s Literature and Violence.  The consulting producer, Mark Jonathan Harris, is an Academy Award-winning journalist, novelist, documentary filmmaker, and professor at the School of Cinema-Television of the University of Southern California.  He won Oscars for writing and directing The Redwoods (1968), The Long Way Home (1997), and Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2001).  Associate producer, Barbara Lucas, has worked on institutional video projects for Metrocom International and Michigan PBS documentaries such as Ticket to Ride and Emerald Ash Borer: Path of Death for the EMMY Award-winning Michigan PBS series Michigan at Risk.

Where Do the Children Play? is filmed by Director of Photography Mark Berg, whose work has appeared on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Dateline, 20/20, ABC News, NBC News, CNN, A&E, Fox Sports, and Good Morning America.  He has been nominated for four EMMY Awards and has won top honors from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters in 1987 and 1990.
The film is expected to be completed in the summer of 2007.

CONTACT:  Christopher Cook, President, Metrocom International, 734.327.1910 

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