Jan 11

Punky IFTA Nominations

Punky, Monster Animation’s animated show about a fun little girl with Down syndrome, has been nominated for two IFTA awards: Best Children’s Show and Best Sound. Seeing as there’s only so much I can say in a 140-character tweet, I thought I’d give the nominations a little mention here to let you know a little about the show and those involved.

Punky is the creation of writer, Lindsay J. Sedgwick. She took the show through a long development process, supported by the Irish Film Board, and eventually the show landed on our desks at Monster Animation. My first thought? Are you serious?! No way. You can’t make a cartoon show about a person with Down syndrome because a cartoon is, by its very nature, a caricature. Even with the absolute best of intentions, this would go horribly wrong.

And, sure enough, one of the primary concerns from everyone who heard about the show was ‘ how will you show her visually?

It wasn’t easy.

But just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted. In fact, maybe the closer it is to going horribly wrong the more chance it has of turning out to be rather special if it works. Because many others would have backed out earlier. Our producer, Gerard O’Rourke, didn’t back out. Of course, he wouldn’t have to design her!

As it would turn out, designing Punky was really only the first of many challenges in making the show work. It would take the wonderful children’s writer, Andrew Brenner, to craft the funny, honest and often touching stories for Punky and her family. It would take design work and early direction by Ciara McClean and fantastic visual storytelling for each episode by director Simon Crane to bring those stories to life. It would take Aimee Richardson’s perfect voice. In many ways, Aimee became Punky. It would take support from the Irish Film Board and broadcaster RTÉ. And it would take Creative Director Jason Tammem√§gi getting over his initial urge to flinch.

Through all that, the show still had Lindsay’s soul.

And eventually… it worked.

So now we have a fun little preschool show that is really just about a girl and her family. It’s about what she does, what she enjoys, what makes her laugh. She also happens to have Down syndrome. Due to the lack of main characters like that on television, that makes the show important. Important for children and parents, regardless of whether they have someone with Down syndrome in their lives.

And now a couple of IFTA nominations. That’s nice. Will it win one? Who knows. The IFTAs are what they are. But I guess, for me with my head deep in Cosmo right now, the nominations are just a reminder of what we made, why it’s important and those fantastic people who made it what it is.

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