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Judge Spotlight

Mike Shiell
Director: Melon Shorts


Mike Shiell is a director, animation supervisor and animator. He directed a number of kid’s shows including the Emmy awarding winners; “The Backyardigans” and “Mike the Knight”.  Mike returns to FAF as a judge for the category of

Frame-by-Frame/Traditional animation!

FAF: What inspired you to create a series of animated shorts?

MS: I have made my career as an animator but I do lots of single panel cartoons on the side. I was approached by a company called the Nimble Collective in CA asking if I would like to create some shorts based on some of my cartoons. They would contribute to the creative AND pay for production. How could I say no to that! This was the perfect opportunity to see some of my most successful gag cartoons come to life and I hope to produce more shorts in the future.


FAF: On top of your independent work, you've also directed a number of children's cartoons, including Emmy award-winning “The Backyardigans” and "Mike the Knight." What's your favorite thing about animating for younger audiences?

MS: When I was working on the Backyardigans, my own kids (3) were all close or in the target market for some of the shows that I was working on. It's fun to take yourself back to your own childhood, remember the things that made you laugh and the stories that amazed you and recreate them for a brand new crop of wee ones.

FAF: Timing is essential in comedy, yet animation can be a lengthy process, do you have any advice for editors/animators trying to work with humor in animation?

MS: Yes, don't belabor the gag! I see so many animated shorts that are in need of a good editing/trimming job. Animation is such hard work... why would you do more than you need to? If you are trying to create a funny short it is very important that you watch and study other funny successful shorts and learn how they are structured. Set up the "story," take it in a seemingly predictable direction, and deliver a funny and ironic twist at the end-- and then get out!

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