After working her way up from the legal department to director of acquisitions and programming at Disney Channel and then moving on to EVP of content and strategy at Toronto, Canada-based Guru Studio, Mary Bredin is ready to turn over a new creative leaf. Bredin is becoming a creative development producer for France’s TeamTO with the mandate to find and develop great stories for the producer.
But Bredin, who is not a fan of titles, prefers to describe herself as a story whisperer.
“I realized I’m actually interested in having a job that focuses on creativity,” she says. Before she got involved in the legal side of things, Bredin had a career in theater, and sees the role with TeamTO as a return to her roots.
Now she is looking to take her breadth of experience across the different verticals of the kids media industry and apply it to something new.
“I’m just very excited to be working with them to develop stories for global platforms. I worked with Netflix a lot in my previous role and I loved working with them,” says Bredin. “I’ll also be working with new platforms and with global channels like Nickelodeon.”
At TeamTO, she will be working closely with TeamTO co-founder Corinne Kouper on the producer’s current slate as well as building up new content. Bredin will be based out of Toronto, growing the French prodco’s team to include staff in China, LA and Paris. Her main project thus far, since starting the position in August, has been to understand the current development slate including School of Magic and Jade Armor.
The animated series School of Magic is being developed by TeamTO and Belgium’s Nexus Factory, and is based on Studio Canal’s CGI-animated feature film House of Magic which grossed US$64 million at the global box office in 2013. The 52 x 11-minute series follows school kids who all have the gift for illusion, conjuring, misdirection and magic and was originally pitched at last year’s Cartoon Forum.
Her other focus, Jade Armor, is about girl power, which is something that attracted Bredin to working with TeamTO in the first place. The 52 x 11-minute animated series is based on an original concept from Pongo Kuo but was recast with a strong female lead who splits her time between school and a local animal shelter before receiving a mystical suit of jade armor.
“It’s exciting because it’s going to be directed by a woman. And outside of some of the US studios who are starting to get it, there’s not a lot of women directors just yet in animation,” says Bredin.
Offscreen, TeamTO is also committed to including more women in its projects with Kouper serving as the head of Women in Animation’s sister association in France.
“Corinne is definitely on board with what are the stories, who are the women directors, all of these things that a lot of people talk about but it’s nice to work with someone who wants to make it happen,” Bredin says.
Although she will be involved in these ongoing projects, Bredin’s main remit is to move a number of unannounced properties forward as well as to find and develop new stories for the prodco. As such, she is currently looking for new talent all over the world, but especially in France, to create new series as well as a feature film.
“I think the nice opportunity right now is that kids content, especially in the last five years, has reached a new height where good enough is no longer the right answer,” says Bredin. “I’m a parent, and I know that I don’t want my kids watching Barney or something like that. I’m part of that next generation looking at content development thinking about what new voices can we get, what story.”
While Bredin has plans to change things up and expand the slate, she’s eager to note that she does not intend to change the whole company.
“Development is a team process; it’s really hard to sit in an ivory tower and come up with great ideas,” says Bredin. “I think you need to bounce them off of other people and push them and touch them—that’s how they evolve and grow. So I’m just adding to the very strong team that is already in place.”
One thing she’s adding is a breadth of experience working at Disney. Bredin worked at the House of Mouse for nearly eight years and says that it was the most valuable learning experience she could have had.
“It was the MBA of my career in terms of working at a large operation. I learned about everything from programming a schedule for a channel to buying shows to developing shows,” says Bredin. “It was the place where I kind of grew up. I dabbled in different things but when I got to Disney I knew I really had to stand up tall and deliver 100%.”
Her most recent role was at Guru Studio where she worked on series such as True and the Rainbow Kingdom. In addition to working with Netflix, Bredin says the experience was invaluable because it taught her about the importance of art direction and how much psychology goes into design. All skills, Bredin says, that she intends to apply to this new role.