Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream . . . please turn on your magic beam! Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream!
- Pat Ballard, Mr. Sandman
Like the fictional Mr. Sandman in the above 1950s song, Sander Schwartz is a veteran magic beamer and dream bringer. In fact, such tasks are part of a typical workday for this kids' content legend.
The successful multi-hyphenate (lawyer/executive/producer/dog dad) recently wrapped his 4+ year assignment as division founder and President of FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment (FME Kids). Under his guidance, the department manifested memorable live action and animated fare, such as Monsuno, My Babysitter's a Vampire, Bindi's Bootcamp, The Aquabats, and Max Steel.
Prior to his FME Kids years, Schwartz executive produced several noteworthy Warner Brothers cartoon titles. Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, and Looney Tunes are three WB franchises that Schwartz reinvigorated for contemporary audiences.
As follows, the LA Animation Examiner celebrates Schwartz's career highlights and ambitions with a barrage of questions.
LA ANIMATION EXAMINER: What was your first job in or related to animation? How did it shape your future?
SANDER SCHWARTZ: My first job related to animation was at CBS in the mid '80s, working with one of the most colorful network executives of that era, Judy Price. I learned a lot about making animation from her and the producers/show runners working on CBS' children's programming. It was a great place to start out one's career in television.
LAAE: What was the next step?
SS: After CBS, I went to Walt Disney Television. The following year, I was hired by a Japanese animation studio that was then very active in the U. S. market, Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS). That was a great training ground to learn all aspects of animation production.
LAAE: Do you, or did you, have any mentors? If possible, please reveal their names and their particular influence on your path to fame and fortune in the entertainment industry.
SS: I was fortunate to have had several mentors to learn from. Judy Price was mentor, as was the late Yutaka Fujioka, founder of TMS. Both were unique personalities with their own styles and ways of doing things. Beneath those personalities, though, lurked a lot of talent and passion for the production of great shows.
LAAE: In your opinion, what are the key qualities of a hit kids' entertainment property?
SS: Making a great kids' show is always a vexing proposition. For me, it always starts with a creator who has a clear vision for what the show is - who the characters are and the world in which they live - and are able to articulate their vision to their production team. Great shows rarely, if ever, come from committees.
LAAE: Words to live by! Do you have any other inspirational words for aspiring studio executives and executive producers?
SS: Learn your craft first, seek advice and guidance from those people with more experience and success, build your relationships within the business, devote yourself fully to it . . . and good things will follow!
LAAE: What are you planning to do next?
SS: I have been looking at several potential opportunities in areas of television production that are vibrant and, in the this rapidly changing technological age, still growing. One of those which I believe has strong potential for the future is programming for the U.S. Hispanic market. With over 53 million Hispanics in the U.S., this county is the second largest Spanish-speaking market in the world (after Mexico and ahead of Spain). Within the next few months I will announce a new venture in this space, focusing on general entertainment. But, of course, there may just be an animated series in works in the not too distant future as well . . .
LAAE: Thanks, Sander Schwartz, for the reassurance that more magic beams and dreams are inevitable!