How Nadine Bates is Creating Content That Gently Models Kindness, Equality and Empathy to Young Audiences

You can’t be all things to all people, so just be the best you that you can be.

Nadine Bates write content for young people through her company; Like a Photon Creative, co-founded with Kristen Souvlis in 2013. Whether it’s television, digital games, picture books, feature films, as long as it’s for kids- she’ll write it. Nadine and Kristen are only the third company in Australia to ever create content for Sesame Street USA and they’re the first females in the country to ever do so! They’re also the first female Australian company to ever have an original Disney animation series commissioned- BALLOON BARNYARD, which will go to air in June this year (2017). Unequivocally, the root of Nadine’s passion is to help shape the minds and ethics of tomorrow’s adults. By researching (Nadine is doing her PhD currently) and creating content that gently models kindness, equality and empathy to young audiences- they are able to ‘normalise’ a nicer way to exist in the world together. Nadine told me if children are given consistent examples of the best behaviours of humanity, in other words- if they’re given a blueprint of how it can/should be- they are opened to behaving as such as adults.

1. Humble Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?

There are a million things that have inspired me, interactions with kind strangers as a backpacker in my late teens, music, books, etc- but the true inspiration for me was the birth of my two sons. Now 10 and 12, their births solidified in me the responsibility that is inherent in all of us- to nudge the world towards the more ethical, compassionate and the just. Whilst people often fall into the trap of thinking that to do this, one must immediately become vegan, sell all of their worldly possessions and develop an unfathomable love of hemp products- it’s much more simple than that. Use your own personal strengths to a positive end. Start small- don’t laugh at sexist or racist jokes. If you are a mechanic- suggest that they source a more environmentally friendly lubricant, or make it a mission to take on and encourage a female apprentice. It’s about actively nudging the world in the right direction in the way that you can do best. Not screaming at it.

I write, it’s basically all that I do well. So that’s what I do. I write with purpose and intent, but I certainly hope that it’s not evident to the audience that I write for. First and foremost- I entertain. Oscar Wilde once said

“If you want to tell the world the truth- make them laugh- or they’ll kill you.”

Humour is of the utmost importance in what I do. If you can capture an imagination, you can normalise anything within a narrative. Including pro-social traits such as inclusion, compassion and equality. If children grow up seeing shows with these traits in them, it subconsciously shapes their perspective of the world and their responsibility within it. It’s a fundamental way to effect positive change.

Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?

The honest answer to this question is that- I’m an underdog and I’ve used that knowledge to fuel my work. Women maintain only 17% of Director and Writer roles in the screen industry, as such- I’ve always had to produce content that is not only good enough- but a damn sight better than my competition, to just be considered a viable candidate. This truth, once acknowledged can make you a very determined human. I am determined to not only inhabit my space as a professional, but to remove any shadow of doubt that I deserve to be here, and in doing so- open the door to the next generation of females in the screen industry. This goes for both onscreen roles and those of film practitioners.

2. Mindset

Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?

I believe that partnering with Kristen in the early years of my screen career, just after leaving Network TEN, was the singular smartest action I could have taken. Her skills complement mine, mine fill in gaps for her. If you know your strengths, you can focus on executing those brilliantly and outsourcing roles that you don’t excel in. You can’t be all things to all people, so just be the best you that you can be.

3. What is your definition of success?

I think there are two definitions for me. Short term success for me is seeing kids watch, read or play with something that I dreamt up and see them enjoying it. This is never more powerful for me, than when I see my own children watching something on television that I’ve created and they are engrossed in it. Long term success for me, will be to know that my writing has nudged the world, just a little, towards a more tolerant and respectful place.

4. Failure

Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?

People will always face failure when chasing dreams, mostly because failure is a natural and expected part of any process. Failing isn’t the crises that western culture perceives it to be and should be embraced as an integral step forward. Visions are visions because they haven’t been achieved yet and as such, there isn’t a convenient road map to help you avoid the pitfalls. If you fall in a hole, it basically means that you’re moving forward. Celebrate that.

5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?

Kindness costs nothing. Spread that shit around like confetti.

To view Nadine’s amazing work, visit www.likeaphoton.com

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