Mary Bredin is the Vice President of Guru Studioand is involved in all aspects of its operations. Guru is a full service animation studio creating content across platforms, producing commercials, and providing animation service work for long form series including “The Backyardigans” and “Babar.” She also leads the development of original content at guru studio and is always looking to acquire new properties or concepts for their growing development slate. During her three years with the company, the studio has gone into production on its first show, JUSTIN TIME for the Family Channel/Disney Junior Canada, and has another show in development with Disney’s London office. As the playfully-titled series JUSTIN TIME suggests, the studio’s in-house productions aim to combine humour with strong character development.
Whether producing original content or serving external clients, Bredin’s focus is on bringing the best content creators together to meet the project’s objectives. According to Bredin, the guru brand both strives towards and thrives on diversity. Their sample video clips, which are available for viewing at http://www.gurustudio.com/reel, demonstrate their breadth of styles. They range from CGI-like realism to the heavy pixilation of early computer games. This stylistic versatility is motivated not only by each project’s specific demands, but also by the creative team’s own needs – just like their target audience, they don’t want to become bored.
Bredin’s own penchant for diversity is evidenced by the international scope of her career. She returned to Toronto in 2007 after having lived in Europe for fifteen years; the first four in Paris, France, and the remainder in London, England. Her tenure in London included eight years as Director of Programming & Acquisitions for the Disney Channels’ Worldwide Programming Strategy Group. While in London she also served as Director of Acquisitions for Viasat, the broadcast division of the Modern Times Group.
When asked if her exposure to foreign cultures has affected her perspective on the media industry, she says unequivocally, “Yes, on everything, generally.” Reluctant to be more specific, she explains that the cultural differences are too diverse and nuanced to be summed up in a few sentences. Using a French import into the English language, she quips, “I would wind up in clichés.” She offers one insight, however, into France’s business culture: “The French believe in lunch as a business tool, as part of your business strategy.” With regard to the content produced by Canada’s media industry, she stresses how important it is to remain conscious of a global audience. “The world is a very big place and our shows work well outside Canada, but there’s more to be done.”
When asked if she had any advice for people trying to find a niche in today’s dynamic and cross-platform media industry, she says, “Research, research, research.” It was this strategy that helped her to break into the field. She landed her first media-related job with the Canadian entertainment company Nelvana after reading through every Playback edition available at the library. Her other word of advice: do what “you feel is right for you.”
Beginning with her position at Nelvana, Bredin has sought to utilize her legal expertise while remaining engaged in the arts. In her own words, she comes from an “artistic” family and has roots in the theatre, having herself produced and directed plays. When she first expressed an interest in law school, her parents reacted with misgivings: “My parents looked at me like, ‘Are you sure?’ I had the opposite reaction from most people.” Nonetheless, as parents will do, they were equally nonplussed by her eventual decision to apply her law degree towards a career in entertainment – Bredin says they responded, “You can’t go work in media. It’s not a secure job.” Her reply: “Twenty years later, I’m doing OK.”
As a final word of advice to those looking for a leg-up in the industry, she suggests joining as many committees and advocacy groups as possible. Besides having formerly sat on the Board of Directors of CASO (Computer Animation Studios of Ontario), she is currently on the Board of WIFT – T (Women in Film & Television – Toronto) and holds membership with the CMPA (Canadian Media Production Association). According to Bredin, such memberships not only offer opportunities for networking, but also provide a consolidated voice in an otherwise “fragmented industry.” “ should stick together more.”