Spotlight Interview: Angela Santomero

We are thrilled to have Angela Santomero stop by the CMA blog to share news about her latest project–two pilots she has in development with Amazon Studios: Sara Solves It and Creative Galaxy.  She provides some great tips for content creators wanting to partner  with Amazon and explains why she needs your feedback!

What’s the secret to getting two pilots included in the first Amazon development slate?  How did your relationship start with Amazon?

My secret?!  I hypnotized Tara Sorenson!  No really, I’m fortunate that Tara, VP of Kids Series Development at Amazon Studios, is a fan of Blue’s Clues, Super Why and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  We share the same sensibility for what good, quality programming for kids is, and we share a vision of wanting shows that are highly entertaining and highly educational.

The secret is truly the shows, themselves, and that I have the BEST team in the children’s media industry to help bring them to life!

The vision behind Sara Solves It was to create a strong female role model, Sara, who is a whiz at math.  She is fun, sassy, passionate, and looks at every problem as a mystery that she wants to solve with math!  How cool is that?  I want to inspire ALL kids to solve problems with math!

The vision behind Creative Galaxy was to bring a solid creative arts curriculum to media.  The series follows Arty, a creative preschool alien, as he soars through the galaxy of art planets (including the Museum Planet, Building Planet, Painting Planet) and fixes every-day problems using art! At the end of every episode we will have segments with real kids doing a cool craft project, step by step.

You’re the creator of Blues Clues, Super WHY! and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for Nick and PBS – how has development differed or been similar with Amazon?

The development process has been very similar, with the exception of open feedback from the public. We created pitch materials, presented them to the executives at Amazon, and negotiated a deal to develop the series further.

Amazon is calling for feedback from the public – how will this shape your content and role as a content creator?

I love that parents will now get to give input and demand high quality shows for their kids!  As someone who believes in research, I always want to hear from our audience as to what they are looking for in a show. Parents told us they want a show that would educate their kids while making them laugh. Preschool teachers wanted a show to have elements of the best curriculum you would find in a classroom. Kids, themselves, told us they want to be part of the story. And we listened. Now, Amazon Studios is listening, too!

What makes your programs unique?  What makes them appropriate for Amazon?

There is a ton of children’s programming out there, but sadly, most of it isn’t very good.  My team works tirelessly to ensure that we create shows that empower, challenge, and build the self esteem of preschoolers, all while making them laugh.

What advice do you have for content creators looking to work with Amazon?

  1. Watch Media:  Find out what is currently out there in children’s media and what is missing.  Create and formulate your vision and mission to meet the needs of kids.
  2. Do your research:  Take your concept out to kids, and make the tweaks and changes necessary to make sure that it sings!
  3. Build connections. Organizations like the Children’s Media Association are the perfect place to do this.   Find out who is where and Google them. Watch what is on Amazon (or any network you are pitching) so you understand their voice and know who you are talking to.
  4. Do it! If you have an idea, write it down. Do your research, call in favors, and use the technology available to all of us, to articulate your idea.
  5. Submit it. Children’s networks are constantly looking for great ideas and new content. Use your connections and your written ideas and put them in front of someone. Amazon Studios has an open submission page. We’re at the dawn of a new age with exciting opportunities for new content on a whole new platform.

We want to hear your feedback! Check out our pilots, Creative Galaxy and Sara Solves It on Amazon Studios. I would love to continue to do what I do, to make shows for kids that educate, get them to giggle, and make them part of the story.