This post is presented by Guru Studio
The preschool children’s series Justin Time is currently nominated for three ASIFA-Hollywood Annie Awards: Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children; Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production; Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production.
When it comes to historical shows for kids, the road is paved with good intentions, e.g., failed attempts and short-lived concepts that, regardless of quality in design and writing, never really find an audience. So much so, the general consensus in series development is that kids and history do not mix. It’s something that Frank Falcone, president and founder of Toronto-based Guru Studio had to deal with while developing their preschool series Justin Time.
“The first response out of everyone’s mouth was that you can’t do history for kids because they don’t have a concept of time,” says Falcone. “But I thought if we could just ignore the dates and the specifics—that we just make it about ‘back then’—it could be an introduction to history in a really basic sense.” The ‘back then’ that he refers to is the vague-but-fundamental idea of time in the young mind of a preschooler. “Children may not know what time it is or what day it is, but they do have a concept of ‘before me’ and ‘where I’m going,’ which is toward ‘Mommy and Daddy,’ which is ‘I’m going to be that.’”
With two seasons completed (a total of fifty-two 11-minute episodes) and a third in discussion, the show has earned recognition within the industry, with a 2013 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Preschool Animated Program, eight Annie nominations including Best Animated Television Production for Preschool Children in both 2013 and 2014, and just this week, a nomination for Best Preschool Show at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. Justin Time now airs in over 70 countries on networks like Sprout, Disney Junior Canada, Discovery Latin America, and NBC Kids, where it was #1 in its time slot last year. It debuted as a streaming property on Netflix Instant early last year.