We caught up with Dominique Bazay, Director of Kids & Family Content at Netflix, just in time for Halloween to hear all about the streaming platform’s sweet ‘n’ spooky new CG preschool series Super Monsters.
What was the original idea behind the series?
The series was originally created by Avi Arad and 41 Entertainment as a boys’ action show for ages 6-11, but we saw a white space for kid-safe monsters. We felt like we could create something special if we focused on preschooler monsters with super powers, and we’re delighted with how the show has turned out.
What was the development process like?
Once we settled on the concept of “monsters for preschoolers,” we asked 41 Entertainment to go back and rethink what the series could look like. From there we did extensive brainstorming on characters, story structures, etc.
What do you love about Super Monsters?
There’s a lot that we love about it. ICON in Vancouver does an amazing job on the animation and Kaaren Brown, our showrunner, has done a great job with her writing team of telling age-appropriate, fun and funny stories about little monsters.
It’s also a great opportunity for parents to celebrate Halloween with their young kids in a fun and not-scary way.
What was the biggest challenge in bringing the show together?
The biggest challenge is in making sure that we service all of the characters equally. We’ve added a new character, Spike the Dragon, for season 2 and at the end of season 2 we will meet a new monster (spoiler alert!).
As the cast grows, making sure we tell good character-driven stories has been one of the things we’re focused on and the writing team is doing a great job of making sure we have stories for everyone’s favorite monster.
Where is the animation done, and how many people work on the show?
The animation is all done at ICON Creative Studio Inc., located in Vancouver Canada, with roughly 100 CG artists working on the show.
What CG animation tools are used to create it?
Super Monsters uses ICON’s Accelerated Series Pipeline (2.0), built around Autodesk’s Maya software, which merges a typical TV series schedule with a feature film lighting QC process.
Why do you think the series stands out among the many preschool shows available today?
Our audience loves the characters. They are both aspirational and relatable. I think there’s a monster in the show for everyone in our audience. Our goal is to give our audience personalities they can identify with, laugh at the comedy, and bond over the social-emotional learnings. At the end of the day, the stories are all about modeling good behavior and showcasing our audience how to be good human beings.
What were some of the early reactions from kids?
It was really nice to see young kids immediately like the characters without being scared of the monsters. We saw lots of kids choose their favorite monster, and what’s so fun about the timeline of launching during Halloween is we are able to give them Super Monsters costumes and toys to turn screen time into playtime at home!
What are some of your favorite animated preschool shows of all time and why?
Shows like Dora and Blue’s Clues really redefined the space and then shows like Doc McStuffins and PAW Patrol redefined the space yet again.
What is your take on the animation scene in 2018?
I think it’s amazing time to be in animation. There are so many great creators and excellent projects. I look at each one as a chance to connect with young audiences. To entertain kids and their families and to plant seeds for people to be good human beings
What do you hope young viewers will take away from the show?
Laughter, entertainment, and planting seeds for growing up to be good people.