December FableFriday: Sam Zollman, Production Assistant

With a creative beat in his step, FableVision’s Production Assistant Sam Zollman isn’t an unfamiliar face around the studio. A former marketing intern, Sam’s passion for media and education led him to journey from Tufts to FableVision to WGBH to Madrid and all the way back to Boston before joining our staff full-time as a member of the production team

Driven by his desire to make the world a better place, Sam pursued educational media, believing strongly in its capacity to drive change and shift perspectives. “I had never considered how impactful the media we engage with as children could be,” says Sam. “That realization set me off looking for how I could do good in children’s media.”

We sat down recently to chat with Sam about his unique interdisciplinary education, his stint as a teacher in Spain, his passion for environmentalism, and the “secret” recipe for his special Elevated PB&J Sandwich!

Welcome, Sam! We ask everyone this, and you’re no exception. What’s your Journey to FableVision story?
I suppose my journey started when I designed my own major at Tufts that focused on educational children’s media and the environment. I was lucky enough to land a marketing internship at FableVision as a junior, and being around such fun, inspiring, creative people only affirmed that this was the right industry for me. Fast forward through graduation and a year living in Spain, I heard about an open Production Assistant position, and jumped on the opportunity. And here we are! 

What did you learn from the marketing department as an intern that is now a valuable asset to the production team?
What’s so awesome about the marketing internship here is the independent project you’re encouraged to pursue. I created a Twitter campaign designed to work like a Choose-Your-Own Adventure story, where retweets and favorites determined which direction the story moved. In essence, it was my first experience managing a project in the studio. I planned the schedule, coordinated the art needs with the art interns, and publicized the campaign. Having that exposure to how the different sides of the studio come together to produce great projects—plus seeing how those projects are showcased—has made me feel more prepared to assist the producers.

Can you walk us through what a week in your shoes looks like?
Each week is different, but generally Monday sets the tone for the week with some quick update meetings and check-ins. I’ll sit down with one of the producers and we’ll review the week’s schedule and deliverables. Tuesday, I’ll sit in on calls to track various feedback and requests from clients, followed by testing one of our new games to document bugs. Wednesday, I will check in with a developer to see how a project beta is coming along and begin thinking about next week’s schedule. Thursday, I might search for sound effects for a game, collect photos for a series of presentations, and organize and archive completed projects. Friday tends to be the busiest, where I check in with the artists for last minute changes, work with producers to make sure deliverables are ready, help them look ahead to next week’s schedule, anticipate requests and updates, and balance different projects’ needs.

You graduated from Tufts, what was your educational experience like there?
I feel incredibly lucky with my Tufts education. As I mentioned, I created my own major that focused on environmentally educational children’s media. Because I wasn’t tied to any one department, I was able to take a wide variety of classes if I demonstrated how it linked to my specific degree. I felt much more connected to what I was studying and I loved making those cross-discipline connections. Not to mention, I got some invaluable guidance from advisors like Julie Dobrow and Chip Gidney, whose words help me understand the importance of the work we do at FableVision.

You worked on the shows Plum Landing and Design Squad. We’d love to hear more about what it was like interning with the team over at WGBH.
WGBH sets the bar really high for great educational children’s television, so working with them on Plum Landing and Design Squad, two shows that are pushing the boundaries of digital children’s media, was very exciting and insightful. Plum Landing was especially interesting because of its mission to put real environmental education research into practice. We spent a lot of time thinking about how you balance kids watching a show indoors when the goal is nudging them outdoors to discover the natural world around them, and ended with some pretty clever results.

Is there a particular childhood experience or show or movie that made you want to work in children’s media?
I’m a big, big fan of Hey, Arnold! It probably sounds weird, but I loved how Hey, Arnold! embraced the serious parts of life that most children’s shows shied away from. You could watch an episode about poverty or loneliness, and still see it met with compassion. I obviously didn’t understand it quite like that as a kid, but today I still think about how the show revealed the humanity in diverse, complex characters. We could use more of that. 

Before joining FableVision, you were a teacher in Madrid. What was it like being in front of a classroom and what did you take away from that experience?
I’ve heard it often, but I didn’t believe it until I taught: being a teacher has got to be one of the most difficult jobs. I taught English to a total of 430 children ages 9 to 17, with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds. Finding creative ways to engage each class, let alone each student, was a daily challenge. But I think that’s where I learned the most. I learned to take little “failures” in stride, vow to do better next class, and not take the challenges too personally.

I also learned that success can take many different forms. Making the kids laugh, listening to why someone was crying, and making certain students feel included were all little successes. Plus, there were also some hilarious moments, like when I tried to dance Sevillana (a type of flamenco) with the 5th graders, being known, (un-ironically) as the “native American,” and explaining why we Americans name our chicken “Alfredo.”

You grew up in rural Vermont! Has that shaped your passion for environmental education?
Oh, definitely. I often think about how one of the biggest predictors for whether you care about the environment as an adult is having meaningful experiences in nature as a child. And in Vermont, nature isn’t a destination; it’s just beyond your backyard. While I mostly just ran around in the woods, that closeness means that nature takes on a more utilitarian role – some hunt for sustenance, others tap trees to make syrup. It led me to see the environment as something we must respect and preserve, but not because it’s fragile. We must preserve it because we depend on it.  

How do you keep your creative flow alive?
Listening to jazz is a big help. One album in particular, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Stretch Music, is some of the most beautiful, innovative, and personal music out there. Listening to that helps me get started writing or drawing or sewing or whatever I’m trying to do artistically. 

You play the banjo, dance Hip-Hop, and some would say that you’re pretty sew-fisticated. Tell us about your creative side projects!
I recently picked up sewing and have made a few pillowcases, tailored a few shirts, and even made a button-down shirt from scratch! Also, being around such creative, artistic people has opened my eyes to comics! There’s so much freedom and flexibility with the form. I’d love to start exploring that medium! 

Every morning, you’re found munching on what you like to call an “Elevated PB&J.” What’s the secret recipe?
I feared this day would come…OK, you toast some good seeded bread, shmear some good seeded raspberry jam on one half, shmear some good crunchy peanut butter (maybe with some seeds?) on the other, slap ‘em together, and make a mess at your desk.

More about Sam!

Favorites, like, in general: Baseball, the smell of breakfast, Mercado de San Fernando

Trending read: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck

Favorite flick: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The best thing you ever cooked up: Either fish sauce caramels or cranberry walnut French toast

Your go-to tea: Moroccan Mint

Ukulele tune: The Penalty by Beirut

Madrid or Medford? Ha!

Name of your hit TV show? Age Before Beauty

If you weren’t working in media production, what would you consider as an alternative career? Close call between game show announcer and batboy



An Unforgettable 20th Anniversary Bash!

Love lit up FableVision Studios on Friday. Glowing lanterns and dozens of balloons welcomed over 300 guests to help us celebrate an incredible 20 years of creating “stories that matter, stories that move.” Our Studio was filled with friends, colleagues, fans, and FableVisionaries past and present who came from all over to celebrate and help make this event as meaningful as the past 20 years have been.

Our conference room held people drawing their vibrant takes on the FableVision logo as our 20th Anniversary staff video played in the background. Off to the side, a (temporary) tattoo parlor gave our guests a special way to “make their mark.” Custom #fable20 cupcakes added a tasty touch. As folks wandered through our hallways, some paused to write special birthday messages on our giant birthday card while others illustrated their favorite FableVision memories on our Doodle Wall. Our photo booth was filled with a fun mix of props and laughter as people posed for pictures long into the night.

Thank you for helping us raise a glass and giving FableVision a birthday party we’ll never forget. Thank you to every member of our team, every client and partner, and every supportive “cheers!” we received in-person and online.

The celebration isn’t over yet! Our celebrations last a full year, keep an eye on our blog for our Drawing from Memory series. There’s so much more to come. Want to see more pictures from our event? Check out our Facebook album and be sure to watch our 20th Anniversary video.  



Drawing from Memory: FableVision Co-Founder and President Gary Goldberger

This is a special year for FableVision. We’re celebrating 20 years of designing and developing a wide array of engaging media that have inspired, taught, and moved people to action. Behind this mission-driven company is a team committed to creating positive media to help move the world to a better place – and at the helm of that team are our co-founders: Peter H. Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, and Gary Goldberger.

Gary was a founding member of FableVision when it was created in 1996 and holds a unique perspective on all things FableVision. Over the years, Gary has watched and helped shape FableVision’s evolution into a full-fledged studio. He currently serves as executive creative director on many of our projects and oversees the day-to-day running of the Studio.

We sat down with Gary to talk about this incredible anniversary milestone. Read up on all our anniversary celebrations on our website and save the date for our anniversary party on November 18!

You’ve dedicated 20 years of your life to making “stories that matter, stories that move.” As one of FableVision’s co-founders, what has that journey been like for you?
FableVision “began”  for me when I found a like-minded creative in Pete. We shared similar philosophies and dreams about how even the  smallest changes can impact the world in a meaningful way. At that point in my life, I was still searching for that partner who complemented my talents and made the process of creating effortless and joyful. He believed in me in a way that I didn’t believe in myself, and became so much more than a collaborator -- he was, and is, my friend.

I’ve experienced such tremendous personal growth over these last two decades, and I have both Pete and Paul to thank. Looking back on it now, they were really brave to give me opportunities at FableVision that were, truthfully, a real stretch based on my experience. They pushed me out of my comfort zone, trusted me implicitly, and gave me the freedom to rise to the challenge. It has been a time of inspiration, creativity, and a lot of fun. We’ve made some amazing things together. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We like to say that FableVision’s on a 200-year mission to move the world to a better place. Where did that message spring from?
Soon after we started FableVision, schools in the late ‘90s were becoming  very test-centric and we were really frustrated with what we were seeing. Music, theater, and art programs were being cut to make more time for standardized test prep, and kids who didn’t fit this one model of the perfect learner/test taker were, ironically, getting "Left Behind.”  

Huge sweeping changes were being implemented in the educational system, massive layoffs, new mandates, overhauls, really, and it wasn’t working. As a very small company with HUGE ideas, we started thinking about how to make effective changes in education through small steps. Pete, Paul, and I have always been optimistic people and we refused to be disheartened. We knew if we stayed positive and optimistic and channeled that into our creations that we could empower others -- educators, parents, kids -- with messages about embracing individuality, creativity, and self-expression.

From left: Gary Goldberger, Peter H. Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, Tone Thyne.

Where do you hope to see FableVision in the next 20 years?
My gut reaction is to say “more, bigger, better” but in a uniquely FableVision way. I want to continue to work with the best-of-the-best partners on a global scale for our service work. We’re not just a service provider and our  clients aren’t just “customers.” It’s a collaborative partnership between two groups trying to make the best possible product for an end-user that we all care about. That relationship is so important; it’s what makes FableVision FableVision.

The best clients are the ones that believe in us and trust us to create something impactful. Sometimes FableVision surprises even me by making things that I didn’t even know we could create, and it’s because our clients believed in us. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to make media I care about, and a lot of that is a tribute to our incredible partners and clients.

In addition to our service work, I’m passionate about our Original IP department that launched two years ago. Since we started, we’ve tried to open new doors to creative challenges. Our Original IP department has done that. It’s an exciting new venture, an opportunity to push the envelope, and I want to continue to feel challenged because that’s great creative fuel for me.

What do you think is the secret ingredient for the success that FableVision has cooked up?
The right people, hands down. The right talent. That might be cliché, but I really believe in our team.  We’re not scared to do things we haven’t done before because there is such a smart, supportive group of people helping and cheering each other on. I also think FableVision does a good job in letting our staff explore what they’re personally passionate about and that makes the whole company a better place to work.

From the very beginning, we surrounded ourselves with amazing, talented people. A couple of us are still here, and we even have a few folks celebrating a decade here -- that’s pretty incredible. Even when people leave to pursue other dreams, we tend to stay in each other’s orbit and end up working together again in different ways. I’ve always liked to think of FableVision as a creative hot house. Bring people to FableVision and they’ll grow, they just need the right environment to thrive.



2016 Extra Life Through The Eyes of A Beginner

What a night! For the fourth year in a row, Team FableVision took on the challenge to game for good and raise money through Extra Life for Boston Children’s Hospital. And guess what? WE DID IT.

I was a new addition to FableVision’s Extra Life team this year. I was excited: it was an opportunity to immerse myself in having fun with my co-workers, meet their families, and do something for a greater, bigger cause at the same time.

Munching on some of Brian’s famous sugary waffles, I began the day with a lighthearted game of Sushi GO (if you haven’t played before, the game cards have silly illustrations of sushi and dumplings). Those wanting to get creative with their breakfast wandered over to the pancake art station complete with colorful tubes of batter.

#wiffleball #thesports #extralife

A video posted by FableVision Studios (@fvstudioboston) on

The studio transformed into a gamer’s dream den. Scattered across the studio were various stations set up to accommodate board games, PlayStation, X-Box, Wii, and a host of desktop computers dedicated to online gaming. Folks brought along nail polish, knitting gear, and henna as a respite from gaming overload.

Gaming all the way into lunch, Michael collected a few of us and we went to get some fresh air and play whiffle ball! Caked in mud and running around makeshift bases, I felt like a kid again.

The Extra Life evening brought FableVision’s first-ever Trivia Night hosted by Michael and Sam. Armed with empanadas from La Sultana Bakery, teams raced across the FableVision conference room to get their answers in to questions that ranged from the oldest city in America (St. Augustine in Florida) to identifying the various forms of pasta (harder than you think!).

The night was long but boy, was it worth the effort! Team FableVision proudly raised a whopping $5,457 (and counting!) for Boston Children’s Hospital! Our page will stay open until the end of the next year so we still need your help to meet (and exceed!) our goals! A huge thank you to all those who’ve pitched in and supported our team.

Until next year, gamers! 



November FableFriday: Peter H. Reynolds, FableVision Founder

How FableVision Began

The Secret to Surviving & Thriving for 20 Years as a Creative Studio

This special-edition FableFriday features an interview with FableVision founder Peter H. Reynolds. This is a special year for FableVision. We’re celebrating 20 years of designing and developing a wide array of engaging media that have inspired, taught, and moved people to action.

FableVision operates under the “it takes a village” mentality. Everyone contributes to our mission-driven work, but it’s impossible to ignore Peter’s insatiable appetite for quality media for learners of all ages and his unending optimism, positivity, and innovative leadership. An international advocate for creativity, his vision led to FableVision. We sat down with Peter to hear the story of FableVision, a story that begins with a talented crop of characters, innovative fledgling ideas, and the power of teamwork to create a brick and mortar safe harbor for the Boston creative community to flourish.

Read up on all our anniversary celebrations on our website here and save the date for our anniversary party on November 18!

Twenty years! What a journey! How does that feel?
It’s an extraordinary milestone. It’s hard to believe all those years have flown by. In some ways it feels like yesterday, but I look at everything we have done and it also feels like a lifetime. I’m really proud that for the past two decades, FableVision has been a safe harbor for creative people, looking for that dream job and having found it. We have gathered some really extraordinary talent all dedicated to making really great media. The story of FableVision is really a story about everyone who has ever worked with us.

Tell us about that extraordinary talent.
Do you have a few weeks? There’s a lot to tell! There are all the employees we’ve had, all the freelancers—New England has an incredible pool of talent to draw upon—all the interns—and all the amazing clients we have collaborated with. That’s the great part of a true studio. It’s not been successful because of one person. It’s all of us together.

Among the legion of talent, it was the talent and dedication of the FableVision “Founding Fathers” who really got the ship built and out to sea for its remarkable two-decade voyage. Gary, John, and Paul. Sounds like the Beatles, right? It was more than talent though. It was commitment to the vision and a sense that we were building something really special.

How did you and Gary Goldberger connect?
I tapped Gary on the shoulder for a 3D animated sequence, which I storyboarded on a napkin. He said he could do it, but first had to a) find a machine capable (which in 1996 was no easy task!) and b) tear through a thick manual and teach himself HOW to animate in 3D. In a matter of weeks, I was watching a spectacular 3D opening sequence and my jaw dropped. The camera flew through the stars, through clouds, to a planet and a fantastic world… the City of Imagination, The City of Discovery, and the City of Sharing… and the elevated high-speed train that connected all the cities in an inviting loop. It was my theory of learning come to life. Gary had not only brought it to life, but he had fallen in love with this metaphor for learning. It sparked some great conversations that went way beyond animation and technology.  

Gary was immediately drawn to the core mission. I remember us coining the mission as “PEL: The Positive Evolution of Life.” We wanted to use stories, technology and media to spark thinking about big ideas—and igniting action to make the world a better place. That eventually evolved into our tagline: “Stories that Matter, Stories That Move” and our mantra that we had embarked on the “200 year mission”—recognizing that true and lasting change take patience and perseverance.

For a guy who rode a motorcycle to work and had magenta hair, I think I was surprised—delightfully so—that he also had a natural sense for business. Gary became a dear friend, but also a stalwart captain of the ship. I saw him grow from a young man into a studio elder—steady and kind—but still relentless in his commitment to the team and the growth of the studio.  

John Lechner has been by your side from day one. How’d you “connect the dots” with him?
John was freelancing back in the early nineties and had landed a job designing local telephone book “yellow pages” ads. (True story!) There was one particular image he showed me from his portfolio when visiting me trying to land some freelance work. It was a wonderfully elaborate forest; I was stunned by the detail and the overall spirit of the piece. It was then that I committed myself to tap into John’s talents for something special. I knew this special talent was destined to be used for meaningful work. He joined the studio, and among hundreds of projects, he helped direct and produce several of my stories into animated films—including The Dot, Ish, Sky Color and The North Star. I’ll be forever indebted to John Lechner’s tireless efforts to do whatever it took to build the studio. His comfort with technology at a time when the internet was in its infancy and we were still copying files to disks, was a boon. His sense of humor helped define the whimsy of FableVision and kept our mission grounded and accessible.

So when did you meet Paul? Just kidding, but seriously what brought you two together professionally?
Teaming up with my twin brother Paul was a dream come true. Besides the obvious fact that twins are often in sync in mysterious ways, he also had logged in a decade plus building a studio with his business partner, and early believer in the FableVision mission, Bill Churchill. It set the stage for the aligning of stars to start the new studio.

In the mid-nineties, Paul and I worked a mile apart from each other.  I would meet Paul at the Taco Bell at the Watertown Mall situated precisely halfway in between his company and Tom Snyder Productions. Eventually at one of those lunches, over a bean burrito, we realized that we really should be working together. So we did. Twenty years later, Paul is as committed as ever. He is a visionary, a storyteller, a creative problem solver, and an amazing human being. He also has an amazing sense for finding partners to help drive the mission forward. Paul always refers to our clients as partners because he really believes that we are equally committed to getting great media made to make the world a better place.  Paul’s indefatigable drive, compassion, and optimism allowed him to guide the studio through very tough times. His vision for “what’s next” is inspiring.  He’s far from finished. In some ways, I feel he has just begun.

The original FableVision crew. 

You dreamed up with the name “FableVision.” Where did that come from?
I knew our studio needed a good name to describe what we were setting out to do—and I knew that story was the center of all the spokes in the creative wheel. Stories to inform, enlighten, inspire. Teaching stories. Fables. That was it—FABLE. I toggled through some words to weld to Fable. FableFarm. FableStable. FableVille. I came across the word VISION. The ability to see, but also the ability to see something that does not yet exist. FABLEVISION. That was it. Done.

You not only came up with the name but you designed the logo, true?
True—though I didn’t do much thinking about it. It just poured out the first time I gave it a shot. I dashed out the words “FableVision” using my digital pen and tablet and Autodesk Animator while at our historic “Let’s Build A Studio” retreat in Portsmouth, NH. (I got to the retreat, by the way, riding on the back of Gary Goldberger’s motorcycle.) I selected the “star tool,” made an orange star and then squashed it, and popped it behind the black lettering. When I showed my rendition of the studio name, the group all exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s our logo!” Bedsides a bit of tightening up in Illustrator, the logo remained the same for 20 years, even after a few attempts to rethink it.

(For the record that gathering consisted of Bill Churchill, Geraldine Churchill, Julie Ogles, Paul Reynolds, Gary Goldberger, John Lechner, Donna Meguire, and Bob Keough.)

Was there a precise moment where the concept for FableVision began?
The seed of FableVision was planted a good year before we officially opened the studio. I was at Tom Snyder Productions (which I joined back 1982) as VP/Creative Director, and I was charged with getting two educational products created and shipping in a year. I created an in-house studio to get it done. Inspired by my mentor, Tom Snyder (teacher extraordinaire and media pioneer), who had created his own studio within his own company called the RetroRanch. He shared his philosophy that for an artist to create something truly authentic, they had to have their own studio. He even had a song back in the early ‘80s called “My Room Is A Studio”—packaged with a music-making product we created titled “Rock N’ Rhythm.” This belief that a creative sanctuary was key to crafting, experimenting, collaborating, making, producing had a huge impact on me. 

Ironic that it was a yet another teacher who inspired you?
Right? It was my 7th grade math teacher, Richard Matson, who “connected the dots” with the media teacher, James K. Morrow who—nine years later— “connected the dots” with Tom who was teaching at Shady Hill and bicycling to his educational software company he had just launched and then asked me to join. I owe HUGE thanks to Tom who truly changed my life and allowed me to grow and learn beside him. He taught me so much in those formative years. He was a master teacher with a rock and roll spirit. I do think that rebel soul rubbed off on me. He inspired me to take chances and push back on what didn’t make sense in the world.

So back in 1996, you put the FableVision name on the door. What were you working on in those early days?
My little fledgling studio created Pip & Zena’s Science Voyage and Tri-City Science Club. Annette Donnolly, John Lechner, Kathy Venske, Julia Papps, and Bob Keough all worked hard to produce two laserdisc packages to introduce kids to science and the scientific method. I personally think these two kits were some of the best work of my career, but sadly Tom Snyder Productions was sold shortly after they were created and were discontinued by TSP’s eventual owner, Scholastic. It was 1996 when the company was sold and I had a big choice to make. Stay with Tom Snyder Productions under new ownership or to set up my own shop.

You were lucky with finding people who believed in you. That seems to be a big theme in your books.
I am incredibly lucky. My history of FableVision’s origination would not be complete with out a special shout out to Bill Churchill whose company, CF Video/Cosmic Blender made room for FableVision in a small office he rented to us. He was so encouraging. He and my twin brother Paul, who was a partner at CF/CB both welcomed FableVision and brought a big animation gig to our group. It was an animated soap opera to teach Sheraton Hotel employees how to wow the customer. While it might seem a slightly odd choice for a young studio out to change the world, it taught us a fundamental truth. That adults needed to learn in creative ways too, that the learning journey never ends, and that we were in fact, interested in learning whenever and where ever it happens. We were not a children’s media company. We were a learning company. A human development company. A community development company.

Was FableVision technically a part of Cosmic Blender?
Well, it was. Bill Churchill originally had envisioned FableVision becoming the animation division of his media company, but he needed cash to invest in the burgeoning interactive arm of Cosmic Blender which was a very expensive endeavor back in the day when a 2GB video storage drive cost $6K. I bought the company and FableVision was officially an independent company.

That must have been a bit scary to go out on your own, no?
Actually, it was exhilarating. Anyone who dives off a cliff has to think it’s going to be an awesome trip or else fear takes over and the landing is anything but fun. Fortunately for me, my team added one extraordinary person from the Cosmic Blender staff: Karen Bresnahan. As Executive Producer, she calmly took the reins of ALL projects—finding producers and staff to get them all over the finish line.  Without Karen by our side for both of these amazing decades, we couldn’t have made all the extraordinary FableVision milestones.

Was it difficult to build a creative studio but also build a sustainable business?
Paul and I were blessed to have been born with DNA from our parents who were both business people. Mum was a bookkeeper and Dad was a treasurer. Paul and I discovered that the right and the left side of our brains were both firing nicely, but we also knew that we needed a dedicated person to making the business run well. We added Adam Landry as our “profit engineer.” I credit his drive and creative maneuvering for keeping the FableVision ship afloat and moving forward all these years and as we sail by this 20-year milestone. Adam has also become a trusted friend and an enthusiastic builder of all things FableVision. He was equally excited to help set up and guide our not-for-profit Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity.

Bill Churchill must be pleased to see what he helped incubate all those years ago.
He is proud of us—cheering us on continually. I’m glad he kept a little slice ofownership of FableVision—just big enough a token to say he’s still on board which makes me happy. He happily attends our yearly shareholders’ meeting and toasts to our success and we toast to him—thanking him for believing in us in the early days and making it possible. 

Bill Norris and Peter Reynolds.

There’s another Bill to thank, yes?
Another nod goes to Bill Norris who I met when he was at MCET (Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Technology) which funded those first two projects. Bill, an educator for many years in the Watertown Public Schools, had appreciated my design philosophy and later helped fund BrainCogs and EssayExpress—both projects designed to help struggling students learn executive functioning skills. Bill would join us a few years after as part of the core team. His hard work, his humor, but above all—his caring of others—has inspired all of us on the team. Though the good times and the lean times, Bill has always said, “It’s all about the mission.”

You often refer to the early days as “The ‘Dawn’ of FableVision.”
Yes! Dawn Haley Morton! Dawn joined our growing team shortly after we launched. She was “den mother” to the crew. Talented, funny, and ready to do whatever it took to tend the growing studio, she saw us through the early years and into our new home at the Boston Children’s Museum. Her quirky sense of humor and her above and beyond TLC for clients set the standard for FableVision.

What’s your final thought on the magic recipe of FableVision?
My recipe is simple. Gather amazing people, stand back and let them amaze you, and they’ll amaze the world. Everything else falls into place when you believe in people potential and provide them a safe, creative place to make it happen.

The FableVision team at their 2015 holiday party.

The FableVision team at their 2015 holiday party.

Anything else you’d like to add?
The task to recognize all the contributions to our 20 years is next to impossible. From my brother, Andrew who guided the finances in our early days and helped project manage the build out of the new FableVision home at the Children’s Museum to my sister, Jane who invested her time, talent, business acumen into the growth of our spin-off educational company, FableVision Learning—the list is impossibly long. 

The list would include Kathy Loukos: who oversees the entire financial operation, Tone Thyne: who is building out our television division, Terry Shay: who is our Lead Ambassador of our 200-strong cadre of FableVision Learning Ambassadors, as well as superstar creative director: Leigh Hallisey, techno-whizzes Brian Grossman, Jordan Bach, Matt Brelsford, and Margarita Dekoli, marketing mavens: Sarah Ditkoff and Mitul Daiyan, renaissance woman: Andrea Calvin, creative wunderkind: Patrick Condon, solutions architect: Shelby Marshall, strategic visioneer: Cecilia Lenk, power-producers: Polly Searles, Peter Stidwill, Michael Fogarasi, and Sam Zollman, animator-extraordinaires: Didi Hatcher, Sonnye Lim, and Hannah O’Neal, artistic design squad: Bob Flynn, Keith Zulawnik, Loren Lee-Flynn, and Christina Kelly, as well as recent partners: Geoff Wood and Rich Lanchantin, who are expanding our educational products spin-off, FableVision Learning. I told you the list would be long!

So, what can we expect in the next 20 years?
It’s fun to think about. When I drive by a pre-school, I look at those kids running around wildly and think: “They are the future staff at FableVision! Our next generation animators, programmers, writers, and producers—who will hopefully keep all that great kid-energy and bring it to our studio!”