Our Team

Executive

Vince Commisso Co-Founding Partner, President and CEO

Vince Commisso is the Co-founding Partner, President & CEO of 9 Story Media Group, one of the industry’s leading creators, producers and distributors of award-winning content for young audiences around the world. With responsibilities for leading the production, creative, technical and sales aspects of the company's activities, Vince has contributed to 9 Story’s production of over 900 animated and live action episodes, seen on some of the world’s most respected children’s channels and platforms.

Vince began his career in 1992 at Nelvana, where he worked with major networks, studios, producers and distributors, both domestically and internationally. He rose through the ranks to become Supervising Producer, garnering one Emmy® and two Gemini® nominations. In 1999 he left Nelvana to become President & CEO of Blab Media Inc., a Flash based new media company, where he gained valuable experience in the management of start-ups and factors impacting market positioning. In 2002, he co-founded 9 Story Entertainment, with a vision to launch an animation company that would utilize leading edge technologies to develop, produce and deliver compelling animated children’s content with international appeal.

In 2005, Vince earned an Emmy® Award for Best Animated Television Program, as well as a Gemini® Award and ACT Award as Senior Producer on Peep and the Big Wide World Season I. In 2015, Vince was awarded the prestigious  EY Entrepreneur Of the Year Award for the Entertainment and Media category in Ontario. EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is recognized as the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.

Vince holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and is a Certified General Accountant. He also holds a Bachelor of Administrative Arts from Atkinson College at York University and a BA in Mathematics and Political Science.

 

Blake Tohana Chief Financial Officer

Blake Tohana is an accomplished finance executive with 18 years of senior management experience in the media and entertainment industry. He joined 9 Story Media Group as CFO in April 2016. He is responsible for the overall financial reporting, administration, planning and analysis activities, corporate development, and risk management operations of the company.

Prior to joining 9 Story, he 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, Blake 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 Ontario Media Development Corporation. He is a CPA, CA and has an MBA from McMaster University and a B.Sc. from The University of Western Ontario.

 

Natalie Osborne Chief Strategy Officer

Natalie Osborne joined the company in 2006 to launch 9 Story Enterprises and now oversees distribution, consumer products, acquisitions, marketing and business development. Her extensive background in sales and distribution, acquisition and brand management has given her a unique perspective on the industry and the experience to see each project’s potential to reach global markets via multiple platforms and brand extensions. She has a proven track record of nurturing ideas and relationships to build properties with enduring appeal and cross-border resonance.

Natalie has worked with some of the world’s top media companies. Appointed NBC Universal's Vice President of Children's Programming in 2000, she managed the worldwide sales and marketing rollout of children's programs while working closely with the consumer products and video divisions, ensuring optimum quality brand extension. Three years later, Natalie was promoted to Vice President of Acquisitions for Universal Pictures Visual Programming, where as head of programming, she initiated the acquisition and production of new children’s intellectual properties and oversaw the multi-platform brand management of the program portfolio.

Her extensive experience in identifying and brand managing children's properties includes Mattel's direct-to-video Barbie movies, Nelvana's CGI Care Bears feature film, and Australia's Kids Like Us smash hit, Hi-5. Natalie is also an executive producer of 9 Story’s successful live action feature film Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, the animated preschool series Wibbly Pig and is an associate producer of the animated international hit series Almost Naked Animals.

 

Cathal Gaffney Chief Operating Officer

Cathal Gaffney co-founded the award-winning animation studio Brown Bag Films in 1994, which has grown into one of Europe’s most original, successful and creative led studios. With the acquisition of Brown Bag Films by 9 Story in 2015, Cathal joins the 9 Story team in the position of Chief Operating Officer, overseeing production, technology and HR. He also remains at the helm of Brown Bag Films, which operates studios in 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 has also been 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.

 

Jill Fraser Vice President, Business Affairs

Jill Fraser is a seasoned entertainment lawyer who brings 20 years of legal and business affairs experience in all aspects of live action and animated film and television development, production, co-production, distribution, and merchandise licensing. She joins 9 Story from Duncan Morin LLP, a Toronto-based boutique entertainment law firm. Prior positions include a period as legal counsel for the Motion Picture Group of Alliance Atlantis Communications, and more than 11 years as Vice President, Business Affairs for Nelvana Limited. Fraser holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa.

 

Natalie Dumoulin Vice President, Creative Affairs

As Vice President, Creative Affairs, Natalie Dumoulin is responsible for overseeing all creative aspects of 9 Story properties from inception to delivery. This includes sourcing and developing animated and live-action properties for kids of all ages, collaborating with 9 Story’s producers, writers and animation teams and working closely with the company’s broadcast partners on key properties in development. 

With over 20 years of experience in television production, Dumoulin most recently served as Creative Producer for Shaftesbury and Director of International Youth Development for Montreal-based independent production company Pixcom. A seasoned producer of animated series, Dumoulin was instrumental in the production of the acclaimed PBS series Caillou, which she wrote and executive produced. Other key credits include producing the Emmy®award winning series Arthur and developing and producing Cartoon Network’s Gerald McBoing-Boing. Prior to her work on those series, Dumoulin held positions as production executive at TELETOON and as Supervising Producer at Cinar.

 

Darragh O’Connell Creative Director

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 280 artists, technicians and support staff producing family content for a global audience.

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 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.

In August 2015, Brown Bag Films was acquired by the 9Story 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. 

 

Jennifer Ansley Vice President, Marketing & Communications

A seasoned marketing and communications executive, Jennifer Ansley has over fifteen years of experience within the entertainment industry, with a successful track record in brand positioning, customer marketing, corporate communications and digital distribution. As Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Jennifer is responsible for the marketing and promotion of 9 Story’s key properties, liaising with broadcasters, digital providers, home entertainment distributors and licensing partners to maximize brand exposure and revenue. Jennifer also heads up all corporate communications efforts, including public relations, international market initiatives and corporate events.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Jennifer served as Vice President of Marketing at Phase 4 Films where she was responsible for all theatrical, DVD, VOD and digital releases for both the live action and children’s animated divisions. She led the trade and consumer marketing efforts for over 350 television and film releases annually, including key properties such as The Tudors, The Borgias, Chuggington, Max & Ruby and Franklin. While at Phase 4 she was a chief contributor to the company’s dramatic growth in digital distribution through the development of strategic pitches and marketing programs for Netflix, iTunes, Comcast, Xbox and more. Prior to that, Jennifer was Director of Marketing at Somerset Entertainment where she developed commercially successful music programs sold through interactive kiosks for leading retailers around the globe. During her 10 year tenure at Somerset, Jennifer was instrumental in licensing well known branded properties such as Hallmark and Fairmont Hotels. She was also responsible for overseeing all corporate communications initiatives including leading investor relations upon the company’s going public.

Jennifer completed her B.A. at the University of Western Ontario and holds a Masters degree from McMaster University.

 

Claudia Balzer Scott-Hansen Vice President, Business Development

As Vice President,  Business Development, Claudia Balzer Scott-Hansen is responsible for overseeing international sales and growing 9 Story’s global footprint. An accomplished media professional with 20 years of experience in both transmedia platform distribution and global franchise development, Claudia has a proven track record with key markets as varied as USA, Brazil, Mexico, Germany and Italy. Prior to joining 9 Story, Claudia was SVP/Group Director Broadcast, Americas and EMEA at HIT Entertainment (owned by Mattel since 2012), one of the world’s leading children’s entertainment producers and rights-owners. While at HIT, Claudia was responsible for all broadcast strategies and the distribution of HIT Entertainment and Mattel Inc. properties. Her recent achievements include the multi-platform placement, promotion and launch of iconic properties such as Thomas & Friends™, Angelina Ballerina™, Bob the Builder™, Barney™, Barbie™ and Monster High™ throughout North and South America. In addition to content placement, Claudia's expertise is integrating broadcast launches with consumer and retail marketing and promotions. Working with PBS, she is also proficient with syndication, curriculum-led programming and the processes associated with federal and private funding opportunities.

Prior to joining HIT in 2006, Claudia was the Head of Formats and Head of Southern European Distribution at BBC Worldwide, based in London. While at BBC Worldwide she also held the position of Head of European Licensing, and was instrumental in developing the brand and licensing strategy for the highly successful children’s properties Teletubbies into key territories and platforms in the EMEA region including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Middle East and South Africa.  She also worked for two years under the BBC’s famous Natural History Unit, responsible for European Co-Productions. 

 

Claudia received a joint BA in Political Science and Renaissance Literature from Boston College and was a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship.  She also completed a post-graduate program in International Studies through Drew University, followed by a one year post at the United Nations.

 

Alix Wiseman Vice President, Business Development & Acquisitions

An international media professional with over 20 years’ experience, Alix Wiseman is responsible for leading distribution and acquisitions efforts in EMEA with a focus on bringing in new content from Europe as well as greenlighting projects with European broadcasters.  Alix joined 9 Story most recently from Aardman Animations, where she set up the studio’s dedicated distribution division in 2006. While at Aardman, she worked with her team to secure TV and home entertainment partnerships for Shaun the Sheep in 170 countries and drive new brand extensions for the studio’s Oscar® winning stop-frame classics such as Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts. In addition to managing the sales team, Alix led the acquisitions efforts at Aardman, sourcing 3rd party content from independent studios including Digby Dragon; Bing, and Wussywat the Clumsy Cat.

Alix started her career at Channel 4 Television selling over 3000 hours of programming across factual, animation, comedy, drama and feature films.  Following her passion for animation, she moved into children’s content, joining newly formed Entertainment Rights (since acquired by Classic Media and then DreamWorks) where she drove the international roll-out of shows such as Postman Pat, Little Red Tractor, the Barbie TV movies and Transformers across the globe.  Alix is both a UK & US national and was raised in Latin America.  She is fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese and speaks basic Italian.

 

Louise Nicholls VP of Technology and Innovation

Louise Nicholls is VP of Technology and Innovation at 9 Story Media Group. Louise is an IT professional with over 20 years’ experience in providing professional, technology and leadership skills to a wide variety of global organisations. 

Louise holds a degree in Information Systems from Trinity College, Dublin.


She has been working hard on our technology systems since 2010 and has championed many innovative new technologies within the studio, which helps us to continue to make fantastic animation.

 

Stephen Kelley Director, Distribution

Stephen S. Kelley is a multilingual distribution and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in the sales, acquisition, marketing and development of television programming for the international marketplace. With well-honed and seasoned management and administrative skills, he has a proven track record in contract negotiation, revenue generation and project management. He has also had considerable success in closing program deals with traditionally challenging territories, marking his early career with precedent-setting sales in the United States, France Germany and Latin America.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Kelley was Senior Manager at CBC International Sales, where he was in charge of international and domestic distribution of the extensive CBC catalogue, specializing in quality drama, documentary and lifestyle series such as The Border, Heartland, Nature of Things and The Fifth Estate.

Previously Kelley was Head of International Sales and Acquisitions at Portfolio Entertainment Inc, a Toronto-based producer of award-winning children’s and family television series such as Groundling Marsh, RoboRoach and Carl². At Portfolio, he was responsible for building and marketing a catalogue of over 700 half-hours of television programming across broadcast, HV/DVD and mobile platforms.

Kelley has also served as Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Salter Street Films International, producers of such award-winning television series as This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Made in Canada, Emily of New Moon as well as Michael Moore’s satirical series The Awful Truth. In his position, he achieved many firsts for the producer and distributor, including entry into broadcast markets in the U.S. and France.

He began his career as Head of International Sales for Catalyst Distribution and its parent company Gullane Entertainment. In his post, he oversaw selected foreign territories for the producer of hit family series such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, Shining Time Station and Eckhart. At Catalyst, his aggressive approach to international program sales was reflected in the distribution and licensing agreements he forged in Germany, France, Italy and Latin America.

 

Federico Vargas Director, Distribution

Federico Vargas is an established media executive, with over 12 years of experience in the entertainment distribution industry. Specializing in global content sales, Federico has a proven track record generating revenues across multiple platforms. Federico has an extensive background in all facets of distribution, having previously managed sales, operations, and acquisitions. Fluent in both in English and Spanish, he has developed a significant expertise working with broadcasters in the Spanish speaking world. As Director, Distribution, Federico is responsible for maximizing sales of 9 Story’s catalogue across Australasia, Latin America, U.S. Hispanic, Iberia, and the Middle East markets.

Prior to joining 9 Story, Federico spearheaded sales at CCI Entertainment where he was responsible for generating global revenues for the children’s, lifestyle, and movie catalogues. He successfully generated sales for CCI’s third party distribution assets, including series like Guess How Much I Love You, Joe & Jack, and Finding Stuff Out. Federico played a key role selling the Artzooka! brand internationally, brokering local productions for Brazil and another for Latin America and U.S. Hispanic markets. Federico was instrumental in the global success of the Candice Olson lifestyle brands - Divine Design and Candice Tells All, closing multi territory deals in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. During his tenure at CCI, Federico also served as Manager of Acquisitions, attending film festivals and bolstering the family movie catalogue.

Federico earned his B.A.A from the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University. He is also a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre.

 

Kristin Lecour Director, Consumer Products & Canadian Distribution

Kristin Lecour has been in the entertainment industry for over 7 years with a focus on multiplatform brand development, licensing and corporate marketing. With her wide-ranging experience across several marketing disciplines, Kristin brings a unique perspective on building brands, through development, launch and ongoing management.  As Director, Consumer Products for 9 Story, Kristin is responsible for securing and managing brand licenses for the company’s key brands around the globe.

Kristin began her career at TrojanOne, a national, full service marketing agency, where she was focused on brand activation for a wide range of clients including Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Coke and HBC. She joined CCI Entertainment in 2006, eventually leading its Licensing and Marketing division.  While at CCI, Kristin was instrumental in the international success of the evergreen brand Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, with over 1 million books sold in over 14 languages, in-school programs in the U.S. and Asia, QSR promotions worldwide, live show tours in over 10 markets, and a Fisher-Price® master toy license. Kristin also contributed to the development of the 2-time Gemini Award winning series Artzooka!, where she brought on Wooky Entertainment Ltd. as the master arts and crafts licensee, positioned the brand within museums and art galleries around the world, and orchestrated several highly successful QSR promotions. While at CCI, Kristin was also responsible for establishing several major strategic partnerships for various brands including a national geocaching program with Parks Canada and Magellan.

Kristin received her B.A.Ed from McGill University.