COMPANY OVERVIEW

From development right through to consumer products, 9 Story Media Group is one of the world’s leading kids and family content companies. Our award-winning animation studio, Brown Bag Films, is 100% creatively driven with a focus on producing the highest quality cross-platform animation with strong stories and engaging characters. The company’s international distribution arm, 9 Story Distribution International, represents over 4,400 half-hours of animated and live-action programming, provided to major international broadcasters and digital platforms.

Our in-house consumer products division, 9 Story Brands, builds global entertainment brands for kids, with expertise across creative, brand marketing, and licensing. With facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin, and Bali, 9 Story Media Group employs over 1000 creative and corporate staff worldwide.

Executive Team

Co-Founding Partner, President and CEO

Vince Commisso

Vince Commisso is President & CEO of 9 Story Media Group, one of the industry’s leading creators, producers and distributors of top quality content for young audiences around the world. With facilities in Toronto, New York, Dublin and Manchester, the 9 Story family of companies has produced over 2,800 episodes of best-in-class kids and family programming.

Vince began his career in 1992 at Nelvana, where he rose through the ranks to become Supervising Producer, garnering one Emmy® and two Gemini® nominations. In 2002, he co-founded 9 Story Entertainment, an animation company that would utilize leading edge technologies to develop and produce compelling animated children’s content with international appeal. Since earning an Emmy® Award on the company’s very first show, Peep and the Big Wide World, the 9 Story family of companies has gone on to earn countless other awards, including fourteen Emmy® Awards and two Oscar nominations.

Vince serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and Co-Chair of the Kids & Family Committee for The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and as Chair of the trade-based advocacy association, Canadian Association of Content Exporters (CACE). He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and was awarded the prestigious EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Entertainment and Media category in Ontario (2015).

Chief Financial Officer

Blake Tohana

Blake Tohana is an accomplished finance executive with more than 20 years of senior management experience in the media and entertainment industry. He joined 9 Story in April 2016 and is responsible for overall financial reporting, accounting, planning and analysis, corporate development, administration and risk management operations of the company.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Blake was CFO of Tricon Films & Television, a leading independent producer and distributor of factual and lifestyle, reality, and children’s programming. From 2003 to 2010, he served as Executive Vice-President and CFO of Magna Entertainment Corp., which was North America’s largest horse racing company with media operations that included a U.S. television network and Internet wagering business. MEC was publicly traded on the TSX and NASDAQ with 5,000 employees and $1.1 billion in total assets.

Blake’s other senior management experience in the media and entertainment industry includes serving as CFO of marblemedia Inc. and Fireworks Entertainment Inc., which he helped take public before it was acquired by CanWest Global Communications Corp. Blake got his start in the industry as Corporate Controller of Alliance Communications Corp., which was Canada’s largest filmed entertainment company at that time.

Blake currently serves on the Board of Directors of Woodbine Entertainment Group and Reelworld Film Festival and previously served on the Board of Directors of Ontario Creates (OMDC). He is a CPA, CA and has an MBA from McMaster University and a B.Sc. from The University of Western Ontario.

Chief Strategy Officer

Natalie Osborne

As Chief Strategy Officer of 9 Story Media Group, Natalie Osborne oversees strategic partnerships, worldwide sales, acquisitions, consumer products and marketing. Natalie has been a significant driver of the company’s dramatic growth over the last decade, helping transform 9 Story into one of the world’s leading independent producers and distributors of children’s content. Upon joining the company in 2006, Natalie founded the global distribution division, building it into a multi-million dollar, internationally recognized enterprise. Her executive producer credits include BBC’s Wibbly Pig, the live-action film Harriet Spy: Blog Wars for Disney, and most recently, the Netflix Original holiday special, Angela’s Christmas.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Natalie served as Vice President of Acquisitions for Universal Pictures based in London where she initiated the acquisition and production of new IP. Natalie previously held the position of Vice President of Worldwide Children’s Programming for NBC Universal, where she managed the worldwide sales and marketing rollout of the studio’s children’s programs. Prior to her time in London, Natalie was based in New York as Director of International Sales for film company Fox Lorber.

Natalie is passionate about the media and entertainment sector and has been a leader in the industry for the last 20 years. She is a voting member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and an elected Member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. An ardent champion of women’s career advancement, Natalie has served on the board of directors of Women in Film and Television’s Toronto Chapter (WIFT-T) and as Chair of The Foundation WIFT-T’s charitable arm, and is a member of International Women’s Forum Canada. In 2016, Natalie was named as a WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner.

Chief Operating Officer

Cathal Gaffney

Cathal Gaffney co-founded the award-winning animation studio Brown Bag Films in 1994, which has grown into one of the world’s most original, successful and creative led studios. As Chief Operating Officer of 9 Story Media Group, Cathal oversees production, technology and HR. He also remains at the helm of Brown Bag Films, which operates studios in Toronto, Dublin and Manchester.

A BAFTA member, Cathal is an Oscar® nominated director, an honour he received for the animated short film, Give Up Yer Aul Sins. He was nominated for the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2009, in recognition of his achievements at Brown Bag Films.

Cathal’s executive producer credits include: Olivia, Wobblyland, I’m an Animal, Noddy in Toyland, The Octonauts, Doc McStuffins and Henry Hugglemonster.

Chief Creative Officer

Angela C. Santomero

Angela C. Santomero, Creator & Executive Producer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Blue’s Clues, Wishenpoof, Creative Galaxy & Super Why has been changing the way children watch TV for more than twenty years. She is the Creator, Executive Producer and Writer for award winning kids and family content for PBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Studios, etc.

With a Masters in Child Developmental Psychology from Columbia University (TC), Angela’s vision for integrating educational curriculum into entertaining content for kids led her to co-create, executive produce and head write Nick Jr.’s landmark series, Blue’s Clues. Malcolm Gladwell referred to Blue’s Clues as “One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made”, in The Tipping Point.

Angela is the recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award for Outstanding Childrenʹs Programming as well as several gold and silver Parents’ Choice Awards. Her book PRESCHOOL CLUES: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World (Touchstone) was released April 2018.

Creative Director

Darragh O’Connell

Darragh O’Connell co-founded Brown Bag Films with Cathal Gaffney in 1994 in Dublin, Ireland. Together they grew the company from a handful of employees to an organisation of more than 300 artists, technicians and support staff producing family content for a global audience.  In August 2015, Brown Bag Films was acquired by the 9 Story Media group in Canada. Darragh is currently Creative Director across the 9 Story Media Group and is responsible for the studio’s creative content across Dublin, Manchester & Toronto.

Darragh produced the short film Give Up Yer Aul Sins, which was nominated for an Oscar® at the 74th Academy Awards® in 2002. He subsequently directed the TV series which went on to become one of the best-selling Irish DVD releases of all time. Darragh’s director screen credits also include the TV series, Olivia and Octonauts and has executive produced Peter Rabbit, Doc McStuffins, Stinky & Dirty, winning multiple Emmy & Peabody awards along the way.

In 2010, Darragh was nominated for a second Academy Award® as producer of the short film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty and was invited to join the Academy for Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences.

Darragh sits on the board of the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland.

Chief Talent Officer

Nicole Boivin

As Chief Talent Officer at 9 Story Media Group, Nicole Boivin oversees all aspects of human resources globally including talent acquisition, learning and development, compensation, benefits, talent management and more.  

Nicole brings a 35-year record of leading transformational change to the 9 Story Executive Leadership Team. In a consulting capacity she has worked with clients such as EY, Boat Rocker, Schulich School of Business and TFO. Prior to that she was with Manulife for fourteen years as Chief Branding and Communications Officer and as Senior Vice President, HR & Communications. 

Nicole currently serves on the boards of Supremex and RES PUBLICA Capital. She is a former board member of Brampton Distribution Holdco, Ontario Power Generation, Pathways to Education and Harbourfront Centre.   

Nicole is originally from Sudbury, is fully bilingual and is an MBA graduate from Laurentian University where she also received an honorary Doctorate in Laws in Spring 2018. She holds the ICD designation from the Rotman School of Management. 

Chief Inclusion Officer

Farrell Hall

As Chief Inclusion Officer of 9 Story Media Group, Farrell Hall oversees global diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across aspects of the organization, including the company’s animation studio, Brown Bag Films. He is also an integral force in developing and establishing DEI content guidelines to further the company’s mission in the creation and production of diverse and authentic stories.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Farrell held the role of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Toronto where he led a team responsible for advancing equity and anti-oppression within the organization. While engaged with the CAS, Farrell had a clear focus on combating anti-Black racism to eliminate disparity and disproportionality in their service outcomes for clients. Farrell also brings additional relevant experience from his time as Manager of Workplace Equity at the Peel District School Board, where he championed the development of workplace equity, anti-oppression and inclusion programs, as well as established initiatives to ensure workplace excellence.

Farrell comes from a background in Human Resources and holds the Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) designation and a degree in Business. He has a strong background in Human Resources, working in the field for over twenty years in the not-for-profit, private and corporate sectors. In addition, Farrell spent three years working in radio roles at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Life at 9 Story

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