Hello Friend: Q&A with Shaene Siders, Head Writer and Executive Producer of Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures

    Did you hear the super sweet news? Season 2 of Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures premieres April 14, 2021! To celebrate new adventures and new friends, we'd like to introduce you to some of our friends who work on the show to bring you all the laughs and smiles. And to catch up on those fun adventures from Season 1, we also put together a video of the TOP 5 Episodes!
    Click here to WATCH! But now, let's meet Shaene Siders!
    Hello Friend! Introduce yourself and tell us what you do for Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures. 
    Hi!  My name is Shaene Siders, and I am the Head Writer and one of the Executive Producers for Sanrio’s animated series Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures. As head writer, I basically shepherd all the scriptwriters, their scripts, and the overall vision of the show. Executive Producer just means I get to help with some of the non-writing details of the series, too, like reviewing the storyboards and animation and helping out with our very fun voice recording sessions.

     What Hello Kitty and Friend is your favorite or do you relate with the most from the series?

    This question is really hard because I love and relate to so many of the characters. I see a bit of myself in each of them. I want to be as kind and wise as Hello Kitty, but I’m more like My Melody, stressing about getting organized and going overboard every so often.  A lot of our writers relate to Chococat because we’re “science nerds,” and I relate to that too. I love to eat, like Pompompurin, and I love Keroppi’s enthusiasm, and I wish I could be as sassy and cool as Kuromi and Badtz. Sometimes I’m shy, like Cinnamoroll, but people who know me would probably never guess that about me, since I hide it pretty well, and like Cinnamoroll, I really, really just enjoy people.  Ever since I was a kid, though, I’ve loved rabbits and dogs (and snakes!). So out of our characters, My Mel, Pompompurin, and Cinnamoroll have an edge in my heart.    
     

    When did you first hear about Sanrio?

    I’ve known about Hello Kitty and My Melody since I was a kid, but I’m not sure when I became aware that there was a company called Sanrio.  I’m super into stuffed animals, so I bet I saw the company name on a tag on a plushie at some point. That was probably my first introduction to Sanrio.
    As head writer and executive producer of the series, what is your favorite part of your job?
    My favorite part?  Making spreadsheets to track the scripts and when they’re due.
    Just kidding. Okay, I know this is going to sound corny, but I have to say it anyway. I LOVE working with the people the most.  Animation is a small community, so I’ve known most of the writers for years. Of course I love working with them. But this is my first time working with Sanrio. Sanrio as a brand is fun, sweet, thoughtful, and it emphasizes kindness…and if you meet the folks I work with there, they actually embody Sanrio values. Everyone is so positive and appreciative and creative and just wants to make the best show we can, and they are giving 120% even when deadlines are short and they have 19 other projects to do. That super positive energy has really kept me going.  Especially during the pandemic. I couldn’t ask for better people to work with. On top of that, we have the best fans in the world. I know everyone says that, but if you think about it, it makes sense that we attract people who value kindness and thoughtfulness.  Most people in our business will tell you, “Don’t read the YouTube comments!” and I’ve heard stories from people working in certain fandoms about how mean some of the fans can get if they didn’t like a storyline or a character or even some small detail. But our fans tend to be super nice about things. I tell everyone to read our YouTube comments. The positivity of Sanrio fans is amazing.  If you’re reading this now, let me just say thank you for your kindness!  It really helps us do what we do! Oh, and I also actually do like making spreadsheets to track the scripts.  Just not as much as other fun stuff, like attending voice record sessions and getting to write the characters.  😊
    What episode is your favorite to write from Season 1? 
    My favorite episode to write was “Happy Family.”  I love that the episode feels magical and has a great message.   I also love what the artists, voice actors, and voice director brought to it (and especially what they did with the surprise moment)!
    Where do you find inspiration when thinking of stories and writing in general?
    I actually get a lot of my inspiration from deadlines 😊
    I’m only half-kidding. If you’re a writer, you know how easy it is to procrastinate and lose yourself in fun Google research, and having deadlines helps you focus and just sit down and write. Otherwise, I get inspiration from everywhere… reading other writers, the entertainment I take in, the news, real life, the shower, exercise (when I do it.  Getting extra blood to the brain seems to help). My husband and five-year-old daughter are inspiring to me, too. I can always count on them for a laugh and a different perspective on something. My husband has a unique talent for looking at things from angles no one else sees. It’s pretty amazing and inspiring.     
    For someone wanting to work for an animation series, do you have any advice?
    Practice, practice, practice.  There is so much advice to give and books I could recommend, but the first thing you need is to get really, really good at your craft, no matter which craft it is.  I’ve seen writers who get hung up on their one script, their magnum opus, and they think all they need to do is tweak that script a bit and get it into the right producer’s hands, and they’ll be set for life.  That’s not generally how it works, and I’ve seen them get discouraged because of that.  First, you are often too close to that first script, your first love, to really get it where it needs to go.  Put it away and start the next one. Just like with anything, you need to practice a ton to get good.  A friend once estimated it took writing at least the equivalent of five movie scripts before you get good, so I’ll say that’s probably a good goal to start with.  (Fun fact:  from just a page count standpoint, that’s the equivalent of one-hundred and twenty-three Hello Kitty scripts!)  Practice, get opinions on your work, and learn how to take those opinions to improve your work, and then practice some more.  In the meantime, learn about the business.  Go to any seminars or panels about the industry that you can find.  Listen to podcasts.  Read blogs.  Comic and book conventions are a great place to find panels of professionals talking about the entertainment industry, and they’re all online right now, so you can attend them more easily.  Learn about the industry, so you know how to navigate it once you get to a point in your craft that you’re ready to become a professional.  And just try to be a good person in general.  Be nice.  Be easy to work with.  Writing or drawing in animation isn’t just sitting at your computer and working.  This is a hugely collaborative industry… we all need to play well with others.  But I probably don’t need to remind Sanrio fans to be nice!