Creators Society Animation Podcast

22. Kristen McGregor on breaking into kids media

May 12, 2022 Season 2
22. Kristen McGregor on breaking into kids media
Creators Society Animation Podcast
More Info
Creators Society Animation Podcast
22. Kristen McGregor on breaking into kids media
May 12, 2022 Season 2

When Kristen McGregor published an article at the start of the year on getting into kids media, I immediately wanted to chat with her on the podcast. So when I was in LA recently, we sat down to talk about her career and also her article. Kristen has worked as a writer, director, producer and exec at places like CBC, Sinking Ship, Nelvana and Apple TV+, so has plenty of experience across the board. Not only is Kristen is willing to give back to the community she's a part of, but is excited about doing so, and actively encourages people into kids media. And if you get a chance to chat with her, her infectious enthusiasm is also going to brighten your day, as I'm sure this episode will. Enjoy!

Click here to read Kristen's original article
Visit kristenmcgregor.com

Please remember to like, rate and comment on your favourite podcasting platform and share the episode on social media.

If you have any comments or suggestions please get in touch. 

Host & Producer: Michael Wakelam

Executive Producer: Eric M. Miller

Music by: Rich Dickerson

Audio Engineering: Mike Rocha


Edited by: Zoe Wakelam

The Creators Society is a professional society for all disciplines of the animation industry. Our mission is to bring the animation community together to build strong relationships, provide education, and form a better understanding of the different roles we all play in creating animated stories. We celebrate and promote the love of animation, and all the talented Creators who breathe life and imagination into their work.

Learn more about the Creators Society, and how to become a member at creatorssociety.net

Show Notes Transcript

When Kristen McGregor published an article at the start of the year on getting into kids media, I immediately wanted to chat with her on the podcast. So when I was in LA recently, we sat down to talk about her career and also her article. Kristen has worked as a writer, director, producer and exec at places like CBC, Sinking Ship, Nelvana and Apple TV+, so has plenty of experience across the board. Not only is Kristen is willing to give back to the community she's a part of, but is excited about doing so, and actively encourages people into kids media. And if you get a chance to chat with her, her infectious enthusiasm is also going to brighten your day, as I'm sure this episode will. Enjoy!

Click here to read Kristen's original article
Visit kristenmcgregor.com

Please remember to like, rate and comment on your favourite podcasting platform and share the episode on social media.

If you have any comments or suggestions please get in touch. 

Host & Producer: Michael Wakelam

Executive Producer: Eric M. Miller

Music by: Rich Dickerson

Audio Engineering: Mike Rocha


Edited by: Zoe Wakelam

The Creators Society is a professional society for all disciplines of the animation industry. Our mission is to bring the animation community together to build strong relationships, provide education, and form a better understanding of the different roles we all play in creating animated stories. We celebrate and promote the love of animation, and all the talented Creators who breathe life and imagination into their work.

Learn more about the Creators Society, and how to become a member at creatorssociety.net

Kristen McGregor:

Funny ideas, beautiful ideas or ideas that you know that children resonate with, that is writing!

Michael Wakelam:

Welcome back to The Creators Society Animation Podcast. I'm Michael Wakelam. Today we have our second in-person episode that I'm doing while I'm here in LA. And I thought we'd do something a little bit different today. I met today's guest a few years back in Miami, and then subsequently pitched to her when she was at Apple. And Kristen McGregor is a writer, director, producer of kids content and has worked in the industry in both live action and animation. And is just a really wonderful, bubbly, amazing person to be around. So some of you may know Kristen from an article that she wrote at the end of last year, and shared on social media where I saw it. And I thought, you know, this could be a really good conversation to have on the podcast. The article was a starter pack of how to get into children's television, and media. And while it was undoubtedly a great article, what is also great is having people like Kristen in the industry, who are proactive about sharing their experience and tips and tricks with others. So welcome, Kristen, it's great to have you on the podcast.

Kristen McGregor:

Thank you so much. It's great to have you here in LA. And and so joyful and awesome to finally be having friends from far away. Be here again, it's been a time.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, it's great, and Kristen suggested we do this in this little studio, which is amazing. It's like a comedy club at night. So we've got these, these lights and this set, we're not recording a video, but you know, feels it feels plush.

Kristen McGregor:

Right! See, you know, we want to class it up a bit. Yeah.

Michael Wakelam:

So you, I want to do what we what we always do on the podcast and hit rewind. But then I do want to get into this guide that you put together for newcomers. And you know, maybe partly, it's because you get asked so many questions, and you're such a friendly person that you always want to answer those questions. And you thought, let's put it down. And is that is that part of the reason?

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah. Well, I mean, I was getting asked the well, so I mean, I always want to say yes. When people ask if they can talk to me about about children's media, because when I can say yes, like, obviously, I have limitations, because we all do. And we all have jobs to do and lives to do and everything and, and so seeing some of the limitations I was having with time, I just kind of saw the questions I was getting asked over and over and over again. And that's what started this article. And I was like, Oh, if this is helpful for everybody, these are the questions that everybody's asking me, why don't I just write it for everybody and put some thought into it and write it down and, and and see if I can't be more of a help to more people. And ever since I've been getting more people reaching out to me saying thank you so much is actually what I was looking for, like, I'm so intrigued about this industry and, and I had no idea how to get started. And for an industry that is like hoping to get more diverse voices in it like showing people the way to get into our industry, I think is the first step.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah. And if you haven't started straight out of school and gone into a big studio, then there are a lot of gaps of knowledge there. So I think it's it's really important for me, I didn't start when I was younger, and you know, I'd leapt into it later. And so I'm, you know, I'm part of different groups, you know, WhatsApp groups with people who are starting out and people who are more experienced. And there's always a lot of questions going around in these groups that you covered in your article. So now I just send your article. Yes.

Kristen McGregor:

But what's great is I think for people like yourself, sending the article allows for more interesting conversations as well. It's like, read this article, and then what do you want to talk about? Yeah.

Michael Wakelam:

And for me, that's part of doing the podcast as well as just to you know, share everyone's stories and information. And so it's like, yeah, listen to the podcast, read this article. Let's discuss.

Kristen McGregor:

Your podcast is such a great resource I share it with with others as well. And I love listening to it as I drive around LA.

Michael Wakelam:

Oh thank you, thank you. And there's a lot of driving to do in LA, isn't it? I forgot how much traffic there is. All right. So let's, let's hit rewind, I want to first hear about your journey and how you got started in the industry. And when did it start? When did you have this creative spark that that made you think, Okay, this is where I want to go in, in life in my career.

Kristen McGregor:

Sure. I mean, I I'm one of the rare people I think who's always wanted to do children's media like, I loved this one show growing up in Canada. I'm Canadian, called Mr. Dressup. And he was like on every day like they made bonkers amount of these episodes like, and it sounds like I mean, when I tell you the logline, it sounds like a show that you would never make like, it's like a man who hung out with a child and a dog. And he dressed up every day, like I mean, it doesn't sell but it was so fun to watch. And like the man who played Mr. dressup, Ernie Coombs, he was just such a great, he could draw and he like can make crafts and like he would dress up and put on shows and like there was just this like, great, kind of like, in the moment play and spontaneity that he had. And there was a sense that he was playing with you, the viewer at home. And so I loved watching that show. And then and as I grew up, like I mean, obviously I always, I always loved children's media. And I was grateful to grew up in a country that also valued children's media in Canada. And so I always wanted to do that because it was kind of like, I thought I wanted to be on camera. Like I thought I wanted to be a children's host. And it wasn't until I got to university, I went to university in Toronto. And once I was at university there, I realised that the fun was actually behind the camera for me. Some people thrive as a host. And for me, I thought the fun is actually kind of like coming up with the concepts and thinking of ways to help kids learn and grow. And, you know, just being that presence, like how Mr. Dressup was that for me, how to do that for other kids.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, yeah, I think you'd still be a great host though. I remember. I still remember that show that. You talked about that? No, it wasn't a show. It was something you did with your niece Kristen's crafter-zooms.

Kristen McGregor:

Zoom! Oh that is with it, not my niece, it's with this little girl who I nannied, Lucy. And during the pandemic, we love making crafts together. And during the pandemic, we couldn't make crafts together. So we would instead of having a crafter-noon, together, we would do a crafter-zoom. I mean, if anybody listening is listening and loves to make crafts hit me up, I will make a craft with you over zoom. Yeah, so if you if you read the article and don't have any more questions, I mean, we can just make a craft does that sound great? Great.

Michael Wakelam:

So you studied children's media, didn't you? So you were quite intent on going down that path.

Kristen McGregor:

Well, and so I was at Ryerson University, that name is changing. So right now it's X University. And I know that sounds really cool. And like super hero, which is very cool. But I studied with Clive Vanderburgh, who created a show, Today's Special, which also really impacted me. And so I studied children's media there. And then I was fortunate enough to be again in the right place, right time, work at kids CBC in Toronto, and then moved over to Sinking Ship entertainment when they were not the huge company that they are today. They were a teeny tiny little company. And there's like 20 of us. And I was kind of again, right place, right time and moved up the chain. And I got to a point where I was I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to this. And I just didn't know how kids learned. And I was at the point where I was high enough where I was like making. I was making curricular decisions. But I didn't know enough about how kids learned. So I was kind of that, that knowledge gap there was a bit bothersome to me. So that's when I made the decision to apply to Teachers College at Columbia University and pursue my degree there. Because I was inspired by you know, Rosemarie Truglio, Angela Santomero. Alice Wilder, like you know that some of the greats in children's media who I was able to read up on, had gone there. So so that's what inspired me to apply to Teachers College there.

Michael Wakelam:

Amazing, amazing. And then what did you, what did you do after that?

Kristen McGregor:

So I went to Teachers College, and I was like, oh my goodness, I will be a researcher and I kind of went full, full researcher. And it was so interesting. I really enjoyed being a researcher. So I after I got my master's degree, and I studied under Herb Ginsburg, who's a really cool researcher there, studying how kids learned about math and I was actually scared about it because I was never good at math. I secret failed math in grade 12. Went to university only because I know French, which is a Canadian secret. You can get an arts degree If you know French, and to the horror of my American husband that you can do that. But I went on to work with, I worked with Latoya Adams, who was my, the leader on a study with the Bubble Guppies at the Michael Cohen Group. And I also did some work with the US Department of Education there. And what was so cool is, especially with the Bubble Guppies studies, just like watching kids watch TV, yeah, and seeing how they interact with TV or doing like an animatic study where you're just literally like seeing, like, who's looking at the screen, who's saying what to the screen when, or even doing a study, like, you know, just starting out on a theme like, what do you tell me what you know about bees. And you just see where kids are at. Yeah, and it's not the same as you know, oh, my kid, or, oh, this one kid, I know, like, you actually are going to high income preschools, low income preschools, you see that gap. Like, an example of a gap that we saw was like, show me a baby frog, right? Like, you know, the difference between some kids would know, a tadpole and some kids would, you know, point to a small frog. You know, you just saw how impactful children's media could be from the researchers seat and how, how much quality you could really infuse into a programme, when you add that magic ingredient of research and with, you know, like, a tremendous care and skill of a researcher, like, you know, I just learned so much from Latoy, but then, you know, you get like this little creative spark in your belly. Yeah, like, well, maybe I=

Michael Wakelam:

-maybe I can do something with it-

Kristen McGregor:

- maybe I need to go back on the on the highway of creativity. And so, the show that I had developed at Sinking Ship entertainment, Giver, with TV Ontario had gone back into production. And it was, you know, you know, you know, shows that are like your little babies, it was my little baby. And so I just had to go back and do that. So, I left the world of research to go back to production and make playgrounds with children in rural Ontario. And Giver was such a fun show to, it's like a reality show for kids, where kids make playgrounds to help their community. And in three days, we would literally make a playground with kids. It's so cool. And you know, and and long story long, I, you know, work in production, and then had the great fortune to move back to New York to work on Sunny Side Up as as the one of the supervising producers there. When that show moved to New York, that was a live daily show for kids out of 30 Rock. And then when that show got cancelled, my husband and I moved to LA. And that's where I found myself fortunate enough to work at Apple as an executive, where we launched Apple TV+ for kids.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, that would have been, you know, you then you've seen all of the different aspects of the industry and being able to bring them all together. And then you know, I've been as an exec and then being pitched all of these shows, I imagine, one of them was mine. But you know that, that must have been a different experience as well going to Apple.

Kristen McGregor:

Very much so. I think like being able to be on both the buyer and the seller side. Is such an incredible gift, just to be able to see what that's like and why decisions are made. And the craft of pitching. It was just it was really to me like another again, like another moment of gratitude. And another opportunity. Like it was similar to that research opportunity of like, oh, wow, like just so much insight. And again, like learn so much from Tara Sorenson over there. Like, how she was crafting that network, and really how to be a support over there on that. So that was great.

Michael Wakelam:

And so you write too.

Kristen McGregor:

Love writing. My favourite thing.

Michael Wakelam:

Me too I love writing. Yeah. It's like that first step of getting it out of your brain and into the world. But how did you develop that? You know, that talent and where did you start? And you know,

Kristen McGregor:

I think I always wrote. I think I it took me a while to identify as a writer because I always wrote but I think I never got nerdy about it. Like I think there was like, especially in university there was like people who are like, I'm a writer, Robert McKee. Like you know, like, more like screen crafty people who like and I was like, okay, and I'm like, meanwhile, I'm like, you know, go home and write about sparkle ponies, you know, like, and it's like different, right? Like, it's like, that feels like that disconnect there or like I would just write funny ideas, right. And then it takes a while to just realise that writing is, that is writing, like coming up with funny ideas, beautiful ideas or ideas that you know, that children will resonate with, or are heartfelt ideas or, you know, things that you want to share with the world like that, that is the soul of writing.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, because you can do all of the technical things and the structural things and the formatting things. But if you don't have, you know, that soul in there that that spark, that voice, if you've got no unique voice in your writing, then you're just putting structure on a page.

Kristen McGregor:

Right. And it's so funny. Like, there's like, you know, the geekiness of like, oh, well, you shouldn't say 'we see' in a script, or now it's like, and you know, people take that out. But then now people are like, well, you should put 'we see' back in the script, and like, you know, people, like, you know, like, you can get so bogged down by technicalities, in writing that you forget about just good ideas. And like, I think I had separated my, like, I just separated that. And I just really liked ideas. So I that's, I think why I kind of aligned myself with development. I love development, because that's about ideas and good ideas and like, writing is that.

Michael Wakelam:

Exactly, exactly. So then you left Apple, and I know you did a show during the pandemic as well. Tell us

Kristen McGregor:

So, yeah, so felt that creative thing inside about that. of me went back to creative land, the creative freeway, and then there was a pandemic. So it was a time. It was also like, it felt like a time to really help kids. And I'm, you know, inspired also by Maya Götz at Prix Jeunesse and the whole European scene, public broadcasting seem to like, the whole idea about children's media is there to serve children, right and help children, right, like, and we were in a pandemic, so I was lucky enough to team up with Lopii productions in Toronto. They are such a cool production company led by the amazing twins, Georgina and Rennata Lopez. And we created this docu series for kids called 'My Stay At Home Diary'. And it was such an interesting show to produce because it was like kids were our camera people. And we're like, okay, let's make a show with you. And it's like, okay, Austin, you take your mom's iPhone, let's move it into 4k. Okay, great. You know, I was giving the kid a shot list. And I, instead of a shot list, I called it a scavenger hunt. It just, explaining like how to make a show for them was very interesting. And yeah. And it was really wild. Like we got nominated for a Canadian screen award for it, which is bananas that that even happened. And we got picked up on PBS here in the states like. So I think, you know, whenever you feel that urge to help I get back to the Mr. Rogers thing. You know, that helping urge I think it's always good to lean into that.

Michael Wakelam:

Definitely. Yeah. Well, that's amazing. I think everyone was trying to just figure out what what production looked like at the start of the pandemic. And you know, so that was, you know, you're figuring out and doing it and making a show, you know, that's amazing.

Kristen McGregor:

One of the big lessons I think always like, if you can lean into discomfort in this, like, it's when I've made the most cool things. Like, this is weird. Okay.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, yeah, right. Shouldn't shouldn't feel easy.

Kristen McGregor:

Okay, this might be weird. Okay, I hope this is okay. We might lose money. It's like, oh, wow, that's really beautiful. Okay, great. Yeah, this might spawn a whole new way that we think of making children's media. I mean, that's how we get innovation.

Michael Wakelam:

Exactly. You know, for all the negatives, this pandemic has spurned a lot of innovation, with the way that we work and, you know, flexible working for all of the production companies that said, people couldn't work at home previously. And now it's just a norm. So that's amazing. Just seeing the way that people have changed. I know people are starting to go back part time. And it's interesting, coming back here to LA and see people are transitioning, but not full time. And it's some kind of hybrid model is what we'll end up with. All right. Okay. So that's, I mean, such an amazing career so far. But I do want to make time to get into this article that you wrote. I think it's, I think it's fantastic. And I'd be just good to go through your article, the points because there's major points in there and also just discuss and add new things. I'm sure that you're always thinking of extra things that you could, you know, give us Tips and Tricks. And, you know, obviously you mentioned KidScreen at the top of Kids Screen Daily in the KidScreen Summit. We met at KidScreen. I think KidScreen is my favourite conference. In in the world just primarily for, it's a mix of a market and a conference and all of the resources there. But the networking is also incredible. So tell us a bit about your KidScreen experience.

Kristen McGregor:

I agree with you, like, you know, it's not, it's got everybody there, which is why I put it first, right, like it's got, the researchers are there, you know, the heads of the companies are there, like, you know, you see people pitching, you see big deals being made. You see the youngest people in the industry are there like, you know, there's information sessions about learning about the industry there. Like, there's literally everything for everybody there. I think it's, if you're going to spend your money, it's the place to go like it's-

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, because it's also it's not a it's not inexpensive going to kids. But I think factoring in that you don't pay for meals during the day. That's all included. And the amount of, the amount of time and sessions that you get in is really fantastic.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah. And the first couple years, I went to KidScreen, I was fortunate enough to, to email and do a work trade with them when I wasn't at a place economically to afford to go. And that actually really helped me because I, it was before, like, we had cool cell phones to look cool on and I was able to you know, like handout delegate bags, or like, be in the sessions and go bring the microphone to people. And it really helped me figure out who's who, because I can like look at their badges and figure out like, who I would want to say hello to and it was great to be able to do some sort of a work trade there.

Michael Wakelam:

Fantastic. I mean, I know, there's not much in regards to grants here in the US. But in the UK, there are some, there is some help in regards to getting to KidScreen most years, I think maybe in Toronto, in Canada, there is as well. So yeah, just make the most of your country's grants and help that they're offering there. And as you mentioned, KidScreen daily, you know, those email alerts that you email, daily emails that you get are just fantastic in as far as keeping up with the latest what's happening in the industry. And what I like about the KidScreen emails is that they do kind of, they're a bit broader than just kids. Sometimes they'll talk about, you know, films and the wider industry and technical things that are going on.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, and even if you're like, even if you're a student, or somebody that's just starting out, like, the thing that's most important about the KidScreen Daily is you can start to see patterns. Right. It's like, Oh, what is trending? What's not trending, who's moving where, right. Like, if you really start to pay attention to that email over a year, two years, three years, like, that's when your information starts getting really valuable as a skill for the companies you're working for.

Michael Wakelam:

And I think it's so true, because it's such a transient like executives are shuffling all the time in this industry moreso you know, since the streamers were coming online in the last few years. Because when I first came into the industry, I'd have a meeting with someone and then the next month, they're at a different studio. And so it's really hard to keep track of where everyone's at.

Kristen McGregor:

I call it the biggest game of musical chairs. It is yeah. The kids media industry. Like, whee! Where are we now?

Michael Wakelam:

Because it's so small as well, really, isn't it? Like, you know, I think I'll get into this a little bit later. But you know, having this kind of long term view, because if you're going to work in the industry, you're going to work with the same people for a lot of years.

Kristen McGregor:

it's great reason to never, I mean, not like you need a reason, but never be a jerk.

Michael Wakelam:

Be nice, be nice. At number two, you had join the Children's Media Association or Youth Media Alliance, is that Canadian?

Kristen McGregor:

The youth Media Alliance is Canadian, Children's Media Association is out of the US, but I think they both take international memberships. What about, you know?

Michael Wakelam:

Yes, so in the UK, we have the Children's Media Conference, which is, they have an actual conference in July every year, which is really great. It's not expensive. It's a really good one to go to, because it's smaller and more intimate and you can run into people, bigger execs a lot easier. In most countries around, that have big media industries, it's going to be a Children's Section.

Kristen McGregor:

Exactly. So so just you know, finding what that is in your country. And also knowing that you know, and I believe that the children's media conference would take anybody. You could definitely go so, so if you have that interest making sure that you go to all that interests you.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, exactly. Now the Cynopsis Newsletter I had not heard of The Cynopsis

Kristen McGregor:

So Cynopsis why I love it is it's the daily to me I love it because they have the kids coverage. Some daily newsletters don't really have the kids coverage. But it has the the premieres of any show premiering that day, including kid shows. And any sort of kids moves in the industry, but then also has like grown up stuff. And you can also start to mark trends. So like the KidScreen Daily, it also kind of has the wider industry. I think it's important to not let kids media just be that island out of the industry. You know, so kind of linking in and seeing what the industry is doing also just for innovation reasons.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, I mean, especially with animation, you've got a lot of animation innovation happening in adult animation and you know, things that Netflix are doing with love death and robots and you know, things that you would never let your kids watch but some really interesting things tech wise going on out there.

Kristen McGregor:

And then you're like, why can't we do that with the kids first

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah. I really can't pronounce the French one at number four. Attend-

Kristen McGregor:

Oh Prix Jeunesse!

Michael Wakelam:

Prix Jeunesse, I'm terrible with-

Kristen McGregor:

Its Prix Jeunesse, but it's in Germany. So the French name in Germany in Munich. Prix Jeunesse is magical. I have to tell you, it is magical.

Michael Wakelam:

See, I'd never heard of it before your newsletter. I learned all of these new things.

Kristen McGregor:

It is magical. Well you're so close to it, you should go. I'll see you there. But Prix Jeunesse is magical, because well it is not a market. So if I go there, and I start hawking my shows, like, it's frowned upon. Right. So it's not, it's not the place to pitch. Which is why you know, KidScreen still is best all around. Why I love it, is it's,

Michael Wakelam:

Wow, that's really interesting. I think just it is a festival, where you go and you watch the best, which is subjective. I'll explain how they created the best, children's media from the past two years from around the world. And you watch it with people, friends, worldwide, friends they call them, and producers and writers, children's media friends, and you watch it all together, and then you discuss it. It's so cool. You get into really thought provoking discussions. Yeah. And everything's dubbed in English. So you can read the subtitles, which is really helpful for me, because I don't speak other languages. But like, what's great is just the thought provoking discussion that occurs because of it. I think it's really for me been one of the things that really is caused me to think differently about the like you say, we don't, even if we do watch kid stuff and media, I make, also it's really helped me think more holistically about the why, of why I make things. And there's a lot of great researchers that are around there that do their research on our own it is, you know, it's in a vacuum, isn't presentations, which is great. And how they they get the best stuff is they do a pre selection, they have a pre selection committee, made up of a bunch of representatives from it? And so watching it with other people and having that around the world where they watch so much stuff, they just they pick their selection. discussion is just something that you don't often do, unless you're in a WhatsApp group, and you're sharing your thoughts on those things. But most, like my experience with WhatsApp groups, is we're just sharing our own experiences in the industry. And you know, how we're trying to get stuff made. And but actually discussing content is not something that I see a lot of.

Kristen McGregor:

And also, it's actually interesting. Like, I think that and I think I need to add it to this article. But watching children's television is so important. And sometimes it's the thing we do the least you know how often I'll ask somebody like, oh, yeah, like what show is impressing you these days? Or like, what show makes you jealous? Like, when you get like a blank or like when somebody's like, oh, yeah, the show, the show I liked watching when I was a kid and you're like, No, but like what show like today, like you know, and it's it's so important to watch.

Michael Wakelam:

It is I mean, I sit there my kids are a bit older now and I sit watching TV and they'll come in and see me watching something and like it's research, it's research. Even on the flight over, I'm watching, I'm with my son, and I'm watching Sing 2 Yeah. And he's like I don't want to watch Sing 2, too cool to watch Sing 2 now. But I just learned so much from watching Sing 2 I thought it was amazing. I've so surprised by it. It was really a great ride. But now that's another conversation, but yeah, watch watch material and because it connects us with our inner kid doesn't it for making stuff for kids got to be connected.

Kristen McGregor:

And this really does like it's also like you you see everybody's inner kid come out. Like when you're and you'll be watching some like spooky show from Sweden. So silly. It's just the best.

Michael Wakelam:

That's great. All right. And number five is the Children and Media Professionals Facebook Group. So I am not a social media person, you'll probably notice by how much I don't post even, I post just for the podcast, pretty much it. So I don't even really use Facebook very much. And so seeing this, I'm like, Oh, I probably need to.

Kristen McGregor:

It's probably okay, if you know, Facebook is facebook. But but if you're on it, David Kleeman. Who is like everybody should know David Kleeman. He does so much for our industry. He heads this up. And what's great is everybody's there. If you have a question, you can post it there some buddy who is nice, we'll help you out. And it's a helpful group of people. Everybody's very friendly. And the thing about the children's media industry versus Hollywood, is we're all a very nice people. And there's, I feel that there's an there's a lack of ego, because and my theory on why there's a lack of ego is to make children's content, you have to think of somebody other than yourself. Because you have to go beyond your own self to make it. And so I think that that's why you have like a lot of empathetic people. In the group. And so everybody and you know, anytime somebody shows up, and it's like, how do I do this? Or what about this? What is this? Like, everybody's so nice.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, I think those points about the industry are so accurate. I mean, I know I go to MIPCOM, you've probably been to MIPCOM. And you've got MIP Jr. Which, you know, not everyone goes to but MIPCOM is everybody, older, you know, live action, adults stuff and kids. And it's just such a mixed bag, isn't it? Like the kids, people, they're just different to interact with?

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah. I didn't put MIPCOM in this article. But it's a market if you want to explain a little bit.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, so MIPCOM is a market, the MIP Jr aspect is usually a couple of days before the MIPCOM market. And that is much more like KidScreen. There's a lot of sessions and information about industry. But MIPCOM itself is a market and it is really a free for all you have to be very prepared. When you're going you have to try and set up meetings. And I actually went this past October. And there was kind of a third of the attendance because it was the first major market back, but I liked it, I think more because it was less attended, everyone was a bit more relaxed, you got to sit down for an hour and have a chat with somebody instead of 10 minutes. And they're looking at their watch to go to the Grand or wherever they needed to go. And because those big hotels were closed, everyone met at the Palais. There was no rushing to go to meetings. It was really good. I don't think that will last. But yeah, MIPCOM is, is a good one to go to, if you're pitching. If you've got something that you want to try and sell or network. Most of these markets are good for networking. Women in animation and women drawn together was your next one.

Kristen McGregor:

Yep. Women in animation. And both of those groups are not just for women. They are just have those names. But yeah, women in animation is fabulous. I wrote why it's fabulous for me personally, is they have job listings that come out. And why I love that is a lot of people are specifically looking for a job in the industry to get their foot in the door. And you can see a lot of the studios that are hiring. And if you see a lot of even if it's like, oh, we're trying to hire a bajillion storyboard artists like that might be crewing up on a show. Maybe they might be looking for a coordinator to maybe I should reach out to them.

Michael Wakelam:

And that's thinking outside the box, isn't it? And you've got to try and yeah, look at it as a puzzle.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, it's a bit of a puzzle. It can have to be that detective. And you know, same with KidScreen it's like oh, so and so's show is you know, they're going into production. Well, maybe they might need a me. Maybe it's a good time to call.

Michael Wakelam:

Exactly. Yeah. And that's why you should go to these markets and just make friends.

Kristen McGregor:

They already know you and they already know that you're awesome. Then it's easier to hire you.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah. So read books. Watch doc's, creep the internet. That's all you know, I guess just research and trying to flood your mind with information and not you know, not overload. But you've got to have a view of the whole industry and-

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, and the book I always recommend to newcomers, especially anybody ever applying for a job at 9story please read Preschool Plues by Angela Santomero. She wrote this great book all about her process making, you know, preschool television. I think it's a way to get, you know, a really nice show if you are applying it 9story and she's a chief creative officer. And it's a great book.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah. And you had The Tipping Point in there. And, you know, Won't You Be My Neighbour, I think books I'd, you know, think about would be Creativity, Inc. as well if you're in the animation industry or wanting to go into the animation industry. And then I would also add, like listening to podcasts. I wouldn't just say mine, I mean, I started podcasts because I learned so much from podcasts just from listening to other people. And so I think you can learn so much just from hearing people's journeys and how they got started, where they are, why they're there. You can just soak it up. And I think if you're listening to podcasts while you drive or go for long walks, it's it's a great way to just infuse your mind with extra knowledge. I guess, do you listen to other podcasts.

Kristen McGregor:

Yes, I agree. I am addicted, well, this sounds funny, so I've kind of come around to the technical side of writing. I love listening to Script Notes, the podcast, I think it's a really great podcast. It's kind of like attuned me to the grown up world of writing and made me appreciate more of the the technical craft of writing. So I listen to that religiously.

Michael Wakelam:

I listen to a couple of writing ones, but not all the time. Also listen to the Bancroft Brothers animation podcast, which is which is fun. There's a lot of banter and they go off script a lot before they actually get to the points. But it's fun. I really like it. Obviously, this one, you've got to listen to this podcast, but people are already listening to it.

Kristen McGregor:

Great, check that off your list. You're amazing.

Michael Wakelam:

But I think also things outside your sphere, like, you know, I listen to one called The Business if you heard that podcast? So that's a Santa Monica based podcast radio show. But it's just about the entertainment business in general. And they'll talk to people about new films or you know, big Hollywood stars or producers and directors. But the first five minutes, there's always this banter that they have, which is just talking about what's going on that week in the industry. And and so you know, it might be but about the AT&T Time Warner kind of thing, discovery, you know, and talking about the executives and what they're doing and why they're doing it. Well, it could be CNN, but I think it's important to look outside your sphere and not just be kids focussed.

Kristen McGregor:

And even like, and knowing the the greater business is really helpful, like just even knowing the difference between a buyer, a seller, a production company, like and then even some of the deal terms. You know, if success happens to you super fast, you want to be prepared. Be prepared for the best case scenario. I am an optimist by nature.

Michael Wakelam:

Sign up for the EdSurge newsletter was-

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, that's I found this in Teachers College, but looking at beyond just like the business, you know, there's a lot of avenues into children's media. And it's really cool to see some of the avenues people take in, or how they level up, you know, you could go either like EdTech, like EdSurge does a lot of EdTech. Or maybe you go into like, like, maybe there's like an educational app that you could work at. Or maybe they need a writer for something. Yeah, that's how you get like your first script. And then you could hop over to a podcast, a kids podcast and they're exploding. It's such a great place to develop and write over there. And then maybe that's what helps you hop over to television, which helps you hop back to creating your own podcast, which gets, you know, optioned for a streaming service, like, and then you're a showrunner like, you never know your path and having a closed mind to all of the options out there is really silly, I think in our business that has so many startups and opportunities like in EdTech, in other media, in podcasting, and EdSurge is just one of them that has a few of the job postings in you know, educational media and technical stuff. But yeah, it's really cool to see people that will hop over to a startup and people who maybe not have had that opportunity younger people who are thirsty for something amazing, who don't have the opportunity, somewhere more traditional media, they hop over to a startup, they're running the show, and then they they hop back somewhere more traditional. And, you know, they're getting paid double. It's wild.

Michael Wakelam:

And I think it's interesting, because, you know, everything is converging, talking to Linda Simensky the other day. You know, she's now at Duolingo. But she's got all of this PBS background and all this comedy background, and just seeing how, you know, you know, Duolingo needs all the skills that she has had in her previous, you know, jobs and career.

Kristen McGregor:

And you just never know. And that's right. Like, I mean, she's so cool.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, she is. She's amazing. And then yesterday, talking with Spire Studios, who are a new studio here in LA, they're really operating as a startup, really, because they're doing things technically a lot different. Also, in the way that they're developing their stories. And small, I think it was fifty or sixty people at the moment, and people from Dreamworks, and Pixar and Disney, and they're creating this new thing, but they're operating really with the model of a startup. So it's really different. And they're attracting venture capital and all that goes with it. All right. So that's all of our eight points, but I think there's probably other things that are on your mind, as far as what you would add to that list. I mean, I would say, you know, like travel as much as you can afford to. And the other thing I would add is have a very long term view, like if you wanted to get into the kids in industry, or animation, you know, have a 10 year goal. I want to in 10 years, I want to been able to achieve this. And then that helps you as you go along to be nice to everyone and not pushy and meet people just for the sake of meeting people. And you never know where they're going to be in two years time they might be running this streaming service or this broadcaster or I think it's just about networking, I think is a really big thing.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, I think for me, one of the harder things was when I was starting out, and like it was hard to get opportunities was having that long term goal. Like I saw it as

Michael Wakelam:

Totally agree, you know having that mindset like, you know, those competitions where you stick your hand on a car, and eventually you'll win the car. Like if you keep your hand on the car the longest. Like I graduated in the recession. So as I'm never going to work in this industry, this is like, you know, you're like, okay, hopefully, something's gonna happen, you know, and like, of course, things did, hello. And like things do happen, but I think it is having that long term goal. And thinking kind of like, Chris Nee had some great advice I listened to, to a speech that she was saying, and it's like, keep your eyes on that every meeting is not a pitch, you know, you're not your own paper. I think it's really easy to look at somebody else and be like, Ah! No, no, I'm bad. This is bad. Everything is bad. And like, no, if you just keep looking at your own, like eyes on your own paper, like that has been really good trying to sell, sell something in every meeting or every advice for me for whatever reason. Also being able to like have like an abundance mindset, I think it's easy to start thinking that there's a limited amount of jobs, that there's a limited amount of shows, there's a limited amount of opportunities, I don't want to help people. Because if I help you, that means I won't have any opportunities. But if you start thinking abundance, if I help you, then we can make this whole industry grow and be even stronger and even more magical, because if we help each other, we can help everything rise, we can make this industry be so much more than it even is now. interaction, you're just meeting people.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, and I think that's one of the other things, another good nugget of advice that, like I wish I knew earlier on is that people aren't going anywhere, like you can have a meeting with somebody and they're not going to expire or dissolve, you can just meet them and and you can just have a great meeting and meet them as a human being. You know, and sometimes like it's nice to also like learn a network's mandate. But it's also nice to like learn about that executive as a human being too.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah, and just be a curious person. Because if you're a curious person, you will be interested in other people. And I mean, that's why I love doing the podcast, because I just love talking with people about you know, their lives and how they got to where they are. And just asking all of these these questions it's fascinating to me. There's no purpose to it, other than just being interested. And I think if you go with that mindset, to a conference or a market or industry event, you're gonna learn a lot more and it's going to help you grow.

Kristen McGregor:

Yeah, and I think it's also following that genuine passion, right? Like if you have it if you have that intrinsic desire. It will lead you, like and if it doesn't, then listen to what it is right? Like oh, creative freeway. Okay, this is where I'm supposed to be.

Michael Wakelam:

Yeah. Be okay with moving on to something. Yeah. You know, making a show, especially in animation. It's a long term relationship. It's like you're marrying that executive, you know, for a few years. So, you know, you need to be easy to be around.

Kristen McGregor:

Yes, yes. Yeah, that's true.

Michael Wakelam:

What are you working on right now?

Kristen McGregor:

Oh, well, I just wrapped Season One of Blippi's Treehouse for Amazon Kids+, Which is like the best.And what a fun show. So and right now just feeling feeling the success of that and development on a ton of other things. So I'm just dreaming these days, it's the best.

Michael Wakelam:

Seeing what comes next. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast. It's been a real treat to be here in person and do this.

Kristen McGregor:

Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for being a curious person. And, and thank you for asking all the questions and, and I hope everybody who listens if this industry intrigues you at all that you pursue it because we need interesting voices in this industry. And you're one of them. So thank you.

Michael Wakelam:

Thank you. Hey, thanks for tuning in. We have some awesome guests coming up really excited about the lineup of conversations we have in store. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you'd like to get in touch or shoot us any feedback then please email podcast@thecreatorssociety.org. Please subscribe, like or share the podcast if you're enjoying it. Thanks to Rich Dickerson for the music Mike Rocha for the mix. Now exec producer, Eric Miller. Thanks again. See you next time.