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Oh 'Schitt'! Playing with kids' toys landed this dad a gig with Netflix

This father's pandemic hobby helped him bond with his son and led to a new career path.
/ Source: TODAY

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Todd Cameron found himself with plenty of time on his hands. As a wedding DJ and karaoke host, his work completely stopped.

To keep himself engaged and entertain his 2-year-old son, Jack, Cameron started transforming his childhood toys into the characters and town from one of his favorite shows, “Schitt’s Creek.” He never imagined how his creativity would pay off: Netflix recently offered him a gig transforming toys into characters from its original shows. Cameron's toy art extravaganzas will be featured in photographs and other promotional materials.

“I had no idea it would turn into the start of a career,” Cameron, 47, of Nanaimo, British Columbia, told TODAY Parents. “I was just someone who did silly, fun projects to make people laugh. ... To have Netflix come knocking on my door and have people really from all over the world engaging in my Instagram and sending me messages.... It's really really heartwarming to have a phenomenon like this."

Todd Cameron with his 2-year-old son, Jack
What started off as a way for Todd Cameron to bond with son, Jack, ended up landing Cameron a gig to make toy art for Netflix's original programming. Courtesy Todd Cameron

Cameron has made people laugh in the past with his "Alien"-inspired maternity photos with his wife, Nicole. He followed that up with an "Alien"-themed photoshoot with Jack around his first birthday. He said his love for Jack and for the show "Schitt’s Creek" inspired his most recent endeavor. When the show wrapped its last season in 2020, Cameron used toys to make a video for “A Little Bit Alexis,” which Dan Levy shared and called “a masterpiece” on Twitter. This past winter, Cameron stumbled across his old Fisher-Price toy set — and it made him think of the small town in the beloved Canadian sitcom.

“I remember it like yesterday, playing with that set,” he said. “It just really reminded me of the Rose Apothecary and the Café Tropical in ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and I couldn’t get that image out of my head.”

As an added bonus, the toys he started sharing on social media turned out to be tough enough for rowdy play sessions with his toddler son.

“I made them so they were very durable,” he explained. “We’ll take one down at a time and play with it — the mechanic shop or what have you — and a couple characters. Then we will put it back in a safe place so Dad can keep doing his photography.”

"Schitt's Creek" toys created by Todd Cameron
Jack, 2, is too young to know how to "fold in the cheese," but after playing with his dad, the toddler might one day know how to add cheese to a recipe better than "Schitt's Creek" characters David and Moira Rose.Courtesy Todd Cameron

In total, Cameron made about nine buildings into familiar "Schitt’s Creek" spots and created 15 characters from the show. Sometimes he would take stop-motion video or photos of the characters and post them with dialogue on social media. The longer he did it, the more people noticed.

“So many people are just loving it and connecting with the comedy,” he said. “It felt really good to connect with the fans.”

Then some of the stars of the show, including Levy and Annie Murphy, commented or shared his work. After that happened, Netflix came calling.

“That is super exciting that someone at Netflix noticed my artwork. I’ve never been paid for my art,” he said. “They love my Instagram and they were very interested in me creating the same type of toy art and photographs for their original content. That just took my excitement and elation to a whole new level.”

"Schitt's Creek" toys created by Todd Cameron
Todd Cameron said he hopes his son Jack will see that doing what you love can lead to joy and opportunities in life. Courtesy Todd Cameron

He said his hobby has helped him grapple with the stress of the pandemic, and he's learned that making others happy really pays off. He hopes that one day Jack learns that pursuing a passion adds meaning to life.

“I just did what I love to do, which is create things to make people laugh, make people smile, and share that with my son,” Cameron said. “It just reinforced the idea of 'do what you love.' Even if you don’t have an amazing opportunity, at least you’ll have spent your life doing what you love.”

Transforming toys into "Schitt's Creek" locations and characters kept Todd Cameron engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transforming toys into "Schitt's Creek" locations and characters kept Todd Cameron engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also gave him a unique way to bond with his son, Jack. Courtesy Todd Cameron

While he’s looking forward to creating toy art for new projects, he said he's glad that he and his Jack will always share this special bond.

“Johnny Rose gives the town of Schitt’s Creek to his son, and that’s what inevitably ends up leading to all this joy and opportunity and financial gain for the family,” Cameron said. “It’s just so funny because as a father I gave the town of Schitt’s Creek to my son, and in the end that’s what led to all this joy and exciting opportunity for our family. It’s a perfect parallel.”