Matthew on the left, holding a Daniel plush.

Meet Our Neighbors: Matthew Torti

Production Manager on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood!

Tell us about yourself and how your career led you to work in children’s television.  

While in high school, I talked my way onto set as a production assistant on different low-budget television spots for local businesses (including a night shoot for a crematorium, which was fun). I was hungry to learn as much as I could about all aspects of production, so I soaked in every opportunity sent my way. While continuing to work as a PA, I obtained my bachelor's of fine arts degree in screenwriting from York University in Toronto and my master's degree in screenwriting from Columbia University in New York City. While in NY, I interned on various film and television productions in a slew of different departments. My desire to learn more only grew stronger as the years and jobs came and went. Once I graduated, I moved back to Toronto, started a family, and continued to freelance and build my portfolio. Patience has never been my strong suit, but it was necessary in this case, as I was on the lookout for a position that was more stable. Eventually, a chance opening at Brown Bag Films came my way, and I was granted an opportunity I just couldn't pass up.  While I didn't exactly work in children's television by the time I joined the team, my experience in working with different demographics and styles throughout the years definitely made it easier for me to adapt quickly to what was expected of me. 

What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up? 

I would have to say Tales from the Crypt. I was (and still am) a big horror loving kid and a lot of those stories and gruesome make-up effects have haunted me over the years. Having read reprints of the original EC comics growing up, the show easily dug its claws into my imagination and inspired me creatively in more ways than I can even count. I've always admired the fact that the horror genre, when at its best, can simultaneously frighten and enlighten. 

Describe your role on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. 

As production manager on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, it's my responsibility (with the help of our production coordinator) to make sure every aspect of the production runs as smoothly as possible, from the beginning to the end of the pipeline. It involves a lot juggling in terms of schedules, personalities, and expectations, but every day is a thrill and a fun challenge. Since I started my career in the early 2000s (not to age myself AT ALL), I would jump from department to department. Being a PM on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood removes the vagabond-like nature of constantly moving locales and allows me to comfortably shift from one department to another while staying put on the same production. The biggest and most fruitful lesson I've learned on the show is the people management aspect of the role. While some days are harder than others, it's incredibly fulfilling when I'm able to understand and help a member of our crew by working together to reach the best possible solution. It also doesn't hurt that DTN has the absolute best crew I've ever had the opportunity to work with, so in that regard I consider myself very lucky. 

What is your favorite episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

My favorite episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has to be “Daniel's New Friend Max.” I think it's a beautiful episode which tackles the subject of Autism in a way that both parents and children can understand and apply to daily life. It's an episode I find myself constantly going back to, as it's deceptively powerful in its simple execution. Truly a standout among MANY standout episodes throughout its run thus far. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

When I'm not working (or being a dad/husband), I write! In addition to writing film and television scripts, I have written and self-published novels (of all genres, but with a specific reverence for horror, of course). Writing has played a huge role in my career and was my first love, as it was the catalyst for making me want to take the plunge into this wild world of entertainment production. I'd consider it an absolute honor to get the opportunity to write an episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood; in the meantime, though, I'll proudly continue playing a key part in contributing to the incredible legacy of Fred Rogers.