Guru Studio’s Mary Bredin talks shop

How do you thrive as an indie animation studio in today’s competitive market? CynKids posed just that question – and more – to Guru Studio VP and eternal optimist Mary Bredin, who takes us behind hits such as Sprout’s Justin Time and, in conjunction with Spin Master Entertainment, Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol, which just made a foray into the development of immersive 3D games with the launch last week of Guru Arcade. Here’s Mary in her own words on…

Secret to indie studio success
Innovation. We never look at any show and think, ‘Oh, we’ll just do that like we did the last one.’ It’s always about figuring out what technology we can use to make the creative come alive and sing.

Selecting which projects are right for Guru
It’s always based on the creative. We have many people sending us projects of all shapes and sizes and we’re always evaluating: What’s the story, who are the characters, what’s the energy driving this show, and is there a vision we can get behind and growth with?

Cross-platform distribution mania
I thrive on change. The Netflix’s and Amazons-I say bring them on! I think the speed at which we’re commissioning [content] now is amazing. You’re starting to see that everyone has an online app, many where content and games are together. At the moment, the ancillary stuff is all seen as a marketing function, which makes it challenging to produce it. But online [was viewed as marketing] a few years ago. Can you watch anything on YouTube now without a pre-roll? So it’s coming; the business for these games will be there.

The right time for Guru Arcade
We considered keeping the games under just Guru, but we thought that taking them to gaming trade shows and specific markets might be confusing. So like all big companies, we have different divisions, each with its own space and feel.

Initial gaming content
The first game based on [original IP] is called Stacks. I can’t really say anything about it yet, but we’re just finishing up the development phase and will start pitching it to publishers soon. We’re looking for all kinds of creative ideas. I love hearing that Angry Birds was [Rovio’s] 300th game, because the gestation period can be five years or three months-and the amazing thing is…no one knows magic recipe.

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