Cybergirl: about


In CYBERGIRL, Executive and Creative Producer Jonathan M. Shiff set out to create a show for the technologically savvy children of today. Modelled on humanity, Cybergirl is the new superhero for a new generation .

After his BAFTA Award winning children’s series OCEAN GIRL and THUNDERSTONE, Jonathan M Shiff wanted to create a brand new look for his new lead character. Says Shiff: "With CYBERGIRL, I set out asking myself how to create a series which has a teenage girl as a principal lead star, in a hip and modern way for the 21st century. Whereas OCEAN GIRL dealt with environmental themes, CYBERGIRL deals with the balance between humans and technology. In a world where millions of our audience are comfortable with the Internet, I thought it would be fun to have our hero as a walking computer!"

Jonathan and fellow Creative Producer Daniel Scharf found that studying current cinematic trends and applying those to the smaller screen was the most appropriate way to get the right look and energy for the series. Says Scharf: "Jonathan and I looked at many films and highlighted elements such as camera effects, and shooting at different frame speeds. We found the best components of films like THE MATRIX, PITCH BLACK and THREE KINGS and maintained cinematic quality within budget."

To achieve a similar look, CYBERGIRL features state-of-the-art harness cable rigs for the superhero sequences. "We combined these elements with visual effects to best utilise techniques to make a children’s series more exciting for the audience," says Scharf.

Jonathan M. Shiff had been playing with the idea of a strong female character for a long time: "I believe it has been many years since young children had a female superhero—the last was probably WONDER WOMAN. The recent trend for children, especially girls, to identify with characters like CHARLIE’S ANGELS indicates a strong desire for them to see themselves in the media as quite proactive, intelligent and strong, whilst still being emotionally sensitive".

Creative Producer Daniel Scharf reiterates: It was great fun to take inspiration from the superheroes of SUPERMAN, BATMAN and SPIDERMAN, and combine these elements to make a new, more contemporary genre.

After screening CYBERGIRL to a group of children, the audience response to the show was the strongest Shiff had seen since OCEAN GIRL. "I was very pleased to see that not one of the 70 children had a problem with understanding how Cybergirl turns the computer on and off simply by looking at it and tilting her head," he said.

Shiff continues, "CYBERGIRL was designed to encourage a higher self esteem in the girls who watch it, but the boys also responded extremely well to the strong male characters and the action filled plot."

CYBERGIRL was shot using Brisbane as the "River City" backdrop. Daniel Scharf felt the location complimented the action: "We chose Brisbane as it has a positive, tropical feel. There is always so much sunlight, and we have been able to use the river, palm trees, and all the elements that help create a mix of the exotic and the familiar."

Brisbane based post house BEEPS supplied offline editing facilities and "Best Lites", using the ITK Y-Front Telecine. The company also worked very closely with Director of Photography Ian "Thistle" Thorburn to establish a number of specific looks for CYBERGIRL, which was shot on Super 16mm film and included a number of in camera and telecine created looks.

"This was a great show for me to work on as we are really pushing the boundaries of what a television drama looks like. I viewed a number of commercials and video clips with "Thistle" to establish which looks would work for CYBERGIRL," says BEEPS Senior Colourist Warren Eagles.

Daniel Scharf and Jonathan M. Shiff, wanted the camera style and music of CYBERGIRL to be contemporary drawings on films like CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

The composers Garry McDonald and Lawrence Stone of The Music Department, "have completely captured the flavour of the CYBERGIRL series. The music they have created is modern, and ranges from dance music to modern Latino," says Daniel Scharf.

With a long association with Jonathan M Shiff Productions, McDonald and Stone have received The Australian Performing Right Association (APRA) Award for Best Television Theme for THUNDERSTONE 2. In December 2000, the pair was awarded the Best Children’s TV Series Music Award at the 9th Annual Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award for THUNDERSTONE 3.

Enthuses Daniel Scharf: "The most exciting thing for me was to do something that is quite modern and funky—to take parts of different genres which appeal to you and rework that. We have tasted a sample of big budget movies and video clips and created what is classy and affordable to us."

Jonathan M. Shiff explains that there is more to Cybergirl than just having her save the whole city: "The episodes have lovely character stories—we see Cybergirl trying to learn about being human and therefore discovering laughter and joy as well as sadness. In one episode she is even subject to romance when she plays Juliet in a school play of Romeo and Juliet. What I like about CYBERGIRL is that the audience will not only have the action and the danger but will also have the depth of a strong character. In this way I think CYBERGIRL could be every bit as strong as OCEAN GIRL, and it is much more complex and interesting than anything we’ve seen before."

Scharf continues: "Despite the high action drama, the show is also very funny—it has a sense of comedy and a bit of the ridiculous—CYBERGIRL is both colourful and pacey."