RIT filmmaking team brings children's stories to life with Emmy-nominated series

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Assistant Professor Amy Adrion directed and produced a "Storyline Online" episode featuring comedian and TV host Seth Meyers.

Amy Adrion first learned of Storyline Online as a parent. 

Her son grew interested in the acclaimed children’s literacy online streaming series while in kindergarten and introduced it to Adrion, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Film and Animation. Storyline Online features actors and other celebrities reading children’s books, set against engaging animations. 

After experiencing Oprah Winfrey reading The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen, her son was hooked on the series — and Adrion, an award-winning director and writer, was soon invited to lead the production of several episodes. 

Adrion has directed and produced seven episodes of the series, which was nominated for the second annual Children’s and Family Emmy Awards, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in December. I Am Groot (Disney+) ended up winning the Best Short Form Program category. 

“The show is great for very young kids because they learn to love story time, and then after kids know how to read, it's still great, because the actors are so engaging,” Adrion said. “Stories are meant to be shared, and Storyline Online helps establish a love of reading and storytelling.”

The story readers in episodes Adrion directed and produced include Angela Bassett, Sutton Foster, John Lithgow, Julianna Margulies, Seth Meyers and Lea Michele, with another episode set to be released early this year. The series is executive produced by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.

“The Children's and Family Emmys recognizes so many great shows. I was incredibly honored to be part of the nominated Storyline Online team,” Adrion said. “Since Storyline Online is screened in classrooms around the country, I have the satisfaction of knowing that something we made is being enjoyed by millions of kids, which is wonderful.”

Many of Adrion’s collaborators on the series have been School of Film and Animation colleagues and students, including Assistant Professor Meghdad Asadilari (animation director and lead animator), Professor of Practice Don Casper (colorist), Sarah Alexander ’21 production option (film and animation BFA) - camera operator, and film and animation MFA students Yuting Shao, Hamideh Azimi and Crystal Hou, all animation assistants. 

After the SAG-AFTRA Foundation books the talent for an episode, Adrion assembles her camera, sound and art teams, sometimes in as little as a week, to film in New York City.

“In directing and producing this series, my goals have been not only to create beautiful episodes, but also to build community and provide opportunities,” Adrion said. “So I've worked with RIT colleagues, sought out composers and production designers who are looking to build their portfolios, and I've hired recent School of Film and Animation graduates.”

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