Nadine Bates Kristen Souvlis

Female Leaders, Nadine Bates & Kristen Souvlis, Like a Photon Creative

Nadine Bates, Creative Director and Kristen Souvlis, Managing Director are co-founders of award winning production company Like a Photon Creative. Like a Photon Creative produces animated children’s content with a focus on diversity and gender parity both onscreen and behind screen, but mostly they create joy.

Founded in 2012, Like a Photon Creative has produced content for Sesame Street USA and Disney Australia. In fact, they were the first female writers and producers for Sesame Street USA. Their latest project is a series of animated feature films produced in Australia, with a cast of relatable and loveable Australian native animals, due for release in late 2019. Like a Photon Creative are also producers of Kindergo, an immersive digital platform with a variety of books, videos and games focussed on developing children’s literacy.

How did Like a Photon Creative start, and what lead to your focus on children’s content?

Like a Photon Creative was started by Kristen and myself, mostly out of the joy we experienced when we worked together. We had both worked for both traditional broadcasters and independent producers and we had developed a keen sense of what we didn’t want to do or experience in the industry anymore. We wanted to start a company that honoured diversity and gender parity both onscreen and off, that believed in ‘people-first’ commerce and was willing to take some pretty big risks to figure out a new way of doing business in the entertainment industry. 

You’re the second Australian company and first female Australian writers and producers to produce for Sesame Street USA, and you’ve recently produced a series for Disney Australia. How did these collaborations arise?

NB: Both of these amazing opportunities mostly came out of our willingness to have a try at something. Both Kristen and I have never shied away from a challenge. And what bigger challenge than creating content for the most prestigious children’s companies in the world? The Disney pitch was a loooong shot, but they really liked what we showed them right from the beginning and they have been strong supporters of our ever since.

The Sesame Street content (we’ve now created for them in multiple seasons) has been some of the funnest content we’ve created so far. It’s been like a dream to work with Sesame Workshop, they’re just wonderful educators. 

Tell us about the three animated feature films that the Queensland Government and Screen Australia recently announced they would be supporting you to produce this year.

We now have a slate of animated feature films that form a franchise called Tales from Sanctuary City that we’re producing entirely here in QLD in an animation studio that we’ve built in Rocklea. These are all standalone films called The Wishmas Tree, Combat Wombat and Daisy Quokka: World’s Scariest Animal. However, they’re all set in the same world with anthropomorphic characters that weave in and out of each other’s stories.

These are all animated family films and will be released in cinemas worldwide, starting with The Wishmas Tree in late 2019. There are three kick-butt female protagonists, with truly exceptional stories that we’re pretty sure young audiences and their parents alike will love. It’s been a huge undertaking, but we’re all loving the process and the outcomes! 

How do you continue to evolve your offering to keep pace with changing consumer viewing habits?

We also offer a comprehensive digital suite of products that is created to complement the narrative content, whether it be on television, film, apps or websites. It’s imperative to make these stories as engaging as possible across multiple streams to catch the attention of an audience that is rapidly evolving to use both 2nd and 3rd screens at once. Gone are the days when digital extensions were merely an afterthought of the film-maker. 

What has been your greatest challenge?

NB: I’m not going to lie, we’ve grown incredibly quickly over the past 12-24 months. This has meant that Kristen and I have had to take on the roles of multiple people; HR, CEO,COO, producers, PR. That kind of multitasking over an extended time period can become exhausting. We’ve finally reached the point that we can hire a few new organisational roles that will help both Kristen and I feel more supported but will most importantly, allow the whole team to feel like there are organisational processes that enable support for everyone!

What are you most proud of?

My team, their commitment, their ethics, their desire to make content that helps promote a kinder and more tolerant world. I love coming to work everyday because of them.  

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

Even if you think you aren’t ready, even if you think that you aren’t 100% perfect or experienced or polished – APPLY ANYWAY. DO IT ANYWAY. MAKE IT ANYWAY. 

There’s nobody that will give you permission to excel, give it to yourself.  

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.