LONG READ: Shimmer and Shine creator Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz reveals what goes into creating a TV show

2017-03-06 21:00
Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz, shimmer and shine

Cape Town – It comes as no easy task when developing your own series, let alone and animated series.

From start of production right through to airing, it can take up to nine months to complete a 22 minute episode.

Channel24 caught up with the creator of Nickelodeon series, Shimmer and Shine, Farnaz Esnaashari-Charmatz at the Cape Town International Animation Festival to find out more about her journey from a post-production intern to show creator.

You started at Nickelodeon’s animation studio as a post-production intern. Did you ever imagine you would end up creating your own animated series with them?

I didn’t necessarily think I was going to create my own animation when I started, but I was always very driven, like I wanted to get into more of the executive side.

So, I never knew that I would have my own show until I started, kind of, mentally working towards it in about 2006, and then in 2009 I started pitching show ideas and I was pitching for about five years before Shimmer and Shine happened.

I say that all the time! #shimmerandshine #nickjr

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What was your creative inspiration when developing Shimmer and Shine?

Originally in 2010, Shimmer and Shine was a completely different series. Only Shimmer existed and her name was Mia and she granted wishes for Zach and it was a show about literacy. Back then it was my husband and I developing together and we went with genies because magic is fun and literacy can be a difficult subject so we wanted to find a way to literacy. Years later, pitches and pitches later we ended up getting rid of all of that and I ended up with Mia, now Shimmer, and from there we started building it up.

Tell us more about the creative process from when your idea was approved up until the first episode aired?

My path has never been a normal path, it has always been odd. So, by December of 2012 I turned in my pitch and they called me and said, ‘Okay start thinking about the next steps’, And I thought I was going to have a couple months off. But by April 2013, they said, ‘Okay we’re picking you for pilot’. So, then we had to find writers and storyboard artists and basically take this whole thing into production and normally the process is that you make a pilot, you get it animated, you get it back, you test the heck out of it and then based on that they will either pick the show up for series or not.

We got picked up for series before we had even shipped the pilot, so we were still in the works of figuring everything out and they gave us a writing pickup. So, by August 2013 we had a writing pickup, by November 2013 we had a full production pickup and I think in January 2014 we shipped the pilot. It happened so fast! 

What do you want kids, and even adult viewers, to take away from watching Shimmer and Shine?

There are a few things: One is, if you watch the show, the girls are very kind they never criticise or put each other down, they’re even kind to our ‘bad guy’. And our ‘bad guy’ isn’t even that bad, she just is very, we’ll say, determined.

Everyone is very kind to one another, they work together and there is no obstacle is too big when they think through the situation together and they can overcome anything when they just think about it a different way and that is something I would like for both adults and kids to see.

And I also hope that it inspires creativity and imagination and that they just have fun with it.


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What has your favourite part been about the whole creative process of Shimmer and Shine?

My most favourite, favourite thing is a secret thing I do. I go on Instagram and I search the hashtag and I see parents posting videos and photos of their kids loving the show and that is my favourite thing. Getting to see it reconnect and how kids are enjoying it.

Watch an introduction of Shimmer and Shine here:

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