Tell us about yourself and how you came to direct children's television shows as a career.
I fell in love with drawing and animation at a very young age. It was magic to me, and I was pretty driven to follow it as a career choice. I took both traditional animation and 3D animation programs in college.
I started off working as an animator, having fun with characters on such shows as Peep and the Big Wide World, Best Ed, and Almost Naked Animals. Over the years, my interest in other parts of the pipeline kept me curious about each department and how it all came together. Opportunities came to try storyboards, and I fell in love with being able to make different choices that influence story and performance, and I got to draw!
I spent the first three seasons of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as the assistant director. I then spent some time in Ireland as storyboard supervisor on The Stinky & Dirty Show. When I was asked to step into the director role during season four of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, I felt I knew the show very well, had support from the team and clients, and had learned so much from the director that came before me that I was ready for the challenge.
Directing wasn’t an ambition of mine, but the opportunity to try it was amazing, so I jumped in! Now we’re more than half way through season five and I’m enjoying how much I’m learning and growing in this role. I’ve spent a quarter of my life working on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which I think is pretty remarkable!
What was your favorite television show growing up?
I had so many favorites, I could never choose! I loved He-Man and She-Ra, Thundercats, Care Bears, X-Men, Rainbow Brite, Jem and the Holograms, Looney Tunes, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, Mr. Dressup, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and more.
I loved the endless worlds, characters, and possibilities they presented. I loved Mr. Dressup because he taught kids to draw, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood because he showed kids how to ask questions and face the world with open hearts and kindness.
What are the steps that go into your role to make an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?
My role involves collaboration at every step with our partners at Fred Rogers Productions and 9 Story Media Group, as well as each department on the team here at Brown Bag Films. We work together to influence and provide feedback on how things come together with the intended look and feel.
I have the pleasure of being involved in everything from scripting, to final delivery of the animated episodes and shorts, all while working with a lot of brilliant people. My time is spent reviewing scripts and lyrics, working with many artists to plan out setups, compositions, and story flow; launching and reviewing storyboards, designs, layouts, background paintings, miniatures, and animation; working with editors to time out leicas; and fusing together ideas from partners and the team to make the best choices we can for the show.
On any given day, there could be a dozen episodes or more, all in different stages, coming together bit by bit over many months and years. I have the best “seat in the house!” I’m lucky to see things start as ideas, words, and sketches. Through a lot of hard work and heartfelt dedication from very skilled people, those ideas, words, and sketches evolve into something special and alive on screen that people really care about—that’s magic!
What are your favorite episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood?
It's impossible to choose just one! I feel a real connection to a lot of them and find the strategies helpful in my own life.
“Tiger Family Trip” was made right after I’d done a 24-day road trip with my Mom and her dog from Toronto to Tofino and back. It was great fun to associate my happy memories with the Tigers’ journey to Grandpere’s house. It definitely influenced a few of the visuals along the way!
“The Big Slide” has helped me cope with my fear of flying. I’ve chirped, “I’m a brave owl!” just like O, while stepping on to the plane, and got some laughs when the flight staff heard me.
“Nighttime in the Neighborhood” is also a favorite. I loved seeing the Neighborhood of Make-Believe at night and seeing Daniel dancing among the stars. The songs from that episode are some of my all-time favorites. Don’t get me started on the songs, they are all so catchy and wonderful!
There are several episodes we are working on this season that have yet to air or be completed that are very meaningful to me, and I can’t wait to see them finished! The entire team has continued working so well during this pandemic; even though we’re apart, it feels like we’re together.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on the show?
I enjoy family time in various fun forms: board game nights, movie nights, video calls, backyard BBQs and cooking show marathons, gardening, beach days, video games, spending time with my partner, parents, siblings, nephews, and nieces.
I like taking road trips when circumstances allow. I love driving and the freedom of exploring. With family and friends, I’ve traveled coast to coast across Canada, down to Key West in Florida, and lots in between, all by car.
I have enjoyed photography for a long time. I mostly photograph clouds, flowers, bugs, and everything in nature. In recent years, I’ve had the unique joy of photographing raptors (birds of prey). I’ve been able to photograph some really gorgeous hawks, golden and bald eagles, kestrels, falcons, and owls outside in all seasons.