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Deadtime Stories: Two sisters, two brothers, one terror-ble scare!

Just in time for Halloween! The first season of Deadtime Stories (as seen in photos 1-8) airs every Thursday night during the month of October. With two episodes playing back-to-back, it’s spooky fun for the whole family. David and Scott Hillenbrand designed the show after the bestselling children’s book series, Deadtime Stories, written by Annette and Gina Cascone. The brothers/sisters team took a quick break from their hectic “Deadtime” schedule to chat with thalo.

thalo:  What got you interested in making TV shows for children?

 David & Scott Hillenbrand:  We began our careers 20+ years ago [in children’s programming] working for Saban Entertainment, which grew into the Fox Family Channel. We always loved the children's entertainment space. As it happens, Scott has 9-year-old boy/girl twins, so there is a huge draw to make content that is appropriate for that age range. Children are such an amazing demo because they know what they like and don't like. They have no mechanism yet to "over think it," which is refreshing.

Annette & Gina Cascone:  The opportunity. As authors, we've devoted the majority of our careers to writing for children and young adults. There's no greater audience; and no greater reward—especially since we get to spend our days thinking like a couple of eight-year-olds.

th:  How did the TV series Deadtime Stories come to fruition?

D&SH: We were introduced to the Deadtime Stories book series through Roger Williams, a literary agent who represented Annette and Gina Cascone, and we loved the books. The stories are smart, scary, and fun, and geared toward 7 -12-year-olds, which we felt was an underserved marketplace. So much of what is being made today for this audience is animation. We thought it would be great to create a live action show based on this book series that could entertain and inspire this age group. We made a deal with the Cascone sisters and have been working together since.

A&GC:  Slowly. And thoughtfully. From the onset of this project, the four of us realized that we had a unique opportunity to combine the visual aspect of this project with the literary aspect…in an effort to encourage kids to read. The trick was figuring out how to do it. So when David and Scott came up with the idea of creating a cool babysitter character (played by Jennifer Stone)…we were thrilled… We were able to open each story with a book and the idea that reading is a fun thing to do. 

th:  What’s your favorite part of creating the show?

D&SH: Casting all the roles and working with the young and older actors. Working with Jennifer Stone (as seen in photo 9). Designing the production from an art perspective. Bringing a talented group of artists together and thereby creating a family with the single goal of producing quality entertainment for children and young adults.

A&GC: Hearing from parents that the show has actually inspired their kids to pick up a book.

th:  What’s it like to work with child actors?

D&SH:  It is an absolute joy working with child actors. They come to the set "open," with no attachment to ego. They are like sponges, great listeners; they take direction well, and they approach their work and craft with real enthusiasm (as seen in photo 10). For us, going to work every day is so much fun as it is such a positive, happy environment. It is also a true partnership with the parents of child actors. We all need to be on the same page…and the parent support is invaluable…We actually interview (cast) the parents as well. And we have been so fortunate to have fantastic and supportive parents on this show who also are good listeners and help us help their children achieve their best performances and work experiences.

th:  What’s it like working with your brother/sister?

D&SH:  As brothers, we have been working together since we were kids. We both write, produce and direct. It is a very special relationship based on love, mutual respect and a joy of working together. On the show, we work with the Cascone sisters on all the stories from inception through script, and then we each direct our own episodes. So one week David is directing while I [Scott] am prepping the next episode. Then, I direct and David is prepping the next episode. It is a seamless workflow, whereby we are able to be intimately involved in all episodes.

A&GC:  Would you like to see the scars? Just kidding. We've been together so long on so many different levels that when we work together, it's seamless. Not only can we finish one another's thoughts, we can finish one another's sentences.

th:  What’s your next project?

D&SH:  We hope to be creating seasons 2-5 of “Deadtime Stories.” We are producing and directing the film adaptation of the best selling auto-biography Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane. Think “Slumdog Millionaire” meets “Chariots of Fire” with the sport being tennis…We will be filming the entire film in South Africa and have already spent several months in preparation in South Africa. We hope to continue working with the Cascone sisters as well.

A&GC:  Deadtime, Deadtime & more Deadtime, we hope.

Be sure to tune-in to Nickelodeon Thursday nights at 8pm/7:00c to catch the “Deadtime” terror. Check out the official website Deadtime Stories for show information, message boards and more.

For more information on David and Scott Hillenbrand, check out their website at

And don’t forget to check out the official website of Annette and Gina Cascone—the sisters who started it all!


Photos 1, 3, 5, 6, 9 © Nickelodeon

Photos 2, 4, 7, 8, 10 © The Witching Game, LLC