Jonathan M. Shiff honoured in Cannes

Prolific Aussie Kids’ TV producer Jonathan Shiff has received a Kids Trendsetter Award at MIPJunior, part of the MIPCOM trade event in Cannes.

Along with global TV execs Angela Santomero, Tom McGillis and Ben Bocquelet in recognition of their contributions to children’s programming.

Shiff is Australia’s most successful independent Kids’ TV producer, with hits including H2O—Just Add Water, Mako Mermaids, Ocean Girl, Thunderstone and more.

Speaking at a forum in Cannes, Shiff said ideas can come from looking at gaps in the market, but ultimately “stories come within, an emotional connectivity to the story, a passion for the story. In the case of H2O, I had done Ocean Girl, so I had a passion for underwater. I work very closely with Nicole Keeb at ZDF and often she’s whispering in my ear about something that might spark [an idea]. But generally, it comes from within. These are your babies for a couple of years, so you want that passion, you want to be connected to it.”

Fearless stories for fearless girls is Shiff’s mantra, with a surmountable commitment to production.

“I keep pushing the envelope, that’s what drives me. We use CGI and shooting underwater is extremely difficult—and at times extremely dangerous. We have 22 stuntmen and stuntwomen from James Bond [movies] to help us. There are real sharks. We use electric prods from the Navy. Sometimes I think, this is nuts! But it takes us into the imagination, into a frontier that is a wonderful canvas, whether it’s a jungle or a magical world. Overcoming my fear is part of the fun. The stories themselves are often driven by empowering particularly young women. I think young women today face as much if not more of a need for empowering stories in a world that is so set on disempowering them, constantly. There’s a never-ending search for stronger and stronger female roles.”

His most recent series The Bureau of Magical Things was recently picked up by Nickelodeon channels, to screen in over 170 territories.

Source: World Screen

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