Producer Ron Saunders Net Worth 2021, Age, Height, Affairs, Girlfriend and Full Biography: Ronald Victor Saunders (born 1947) is an Australian film and television producer, writer, and director. He has worked in almost every genre of film and his career has spanned over 30 years. He is particularly known for specializing in children’s television and for co-creating the successful Australian children’s television series Johnson and Friends, with Ian Munro (director) and John Patterson (writer) and later on, The Girl from Tomorrow, Spellbinder and Magic Mountain.
Saunders was also instrumental in building race relations between Australia and China and he has been responsible for many co-productions between the two countries, including Magic Mountain, Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord, The Dragon Pearl, Quest and ‘hoopla doopla!’.
Several other children’s programs he was involved with include The Adventures of Sam, the 1990s version of The Toothbrush Family, Ketchup: Cats Who Cook, New MacDonald’s Farm, Lab Rats Challenge and Toybox.
Producer Ron Saunders Full Wiki
|Born||Ronald Victor Saunders|
|Occupation||Film and television producer|
|Known for||Producing and co-creating Johnson and Friends and Magic Mountain.|
Early life and career
Saunders was born in South Australia. His father was a protestant minister and the family never settled in one location, instead travelling from town to town until Saunders was 18, when the family settled in Adelaide, where he stayed for the next 20 years. Saunders is the eldest of five children.
Saunders did not have a television as a child – and recalls that in his early childhood years, it was a common occurrence for 20-30 people to gather by the window of a hardware shop – simply to watch whatever was on the television on display. Saunders was studying at Flinders University who started the very first course in film and television. In those days, it was not considered possible to make a living out of TV and film production.
Initially, Saunders wanted to become a teacher due to lack of alternative careers at the time. He started out teaching science and maths but began looking for ways to get out of it, due to lack of passion. He reconnected with some of his friends from university who had undertaken the film and television course and together they made various independent and amateur films. This was the beginning of a new hobby.
Martin Fabinyi encouraged Saunders to apply for the very first film course at Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 1973, and his application was accepted along with 11 other students. Saunders attended the course with the likes of Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce, Chris Noonan and Graham Shirley.
After graduating, Ron ended up working for the South Australian Film Corporation. While working here, he wrote, directed or produced roughly fifty films within five years. A lot of his early work was in training and educational films. He has said that this part of his career was instrumental in teaching him how to get information across to other people. These included anti-discrimination films, and films that taught teachers how to deal with working class students when coming from a different environment. Saunders says that he loved filmmaking so much that he made it his primary source of income, and at the time, even if it only just paid the bills, he was happy with that. Saunders cites Terry Jennings and Scott Hicks as doing the same.
Saunders was brought on to co-produce Run Chrissie Run! in 1986. This was his first feature film credit. This was followed by Fair Game (directed by Mario Andreacchio), which has been cited by Quentin Tarantino as one of his favourite films in the 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood. It was at this point that Ron Saunders moved to Sydney and started a new career at Film Australia after receiving a job offer. He was one of their in-house executive producers and served in this position for many years.
In 1989, Saunders stumbled upon footage of a puppetry troupe being edited for a documentary film in one of the edit suites at Film Australia. The puppetry troupe featured a large scale truck puppet which gave Saunders the idea of a scaled up puppetry series in which toys come to life. He teamed up with director Ian Munro to bring this idea to life, and after cycling through many writers, they found John Patterson – who impressed them immediately with his trial script. Patterson developed the characters and their personalities from the ground up. The series was conceived under the name ‘Puppets’ – and then later ‘Toytime’, among other names, before being changed to ‘Johnson and Friends’. After going to air on the ABC in 1990, Johnson and Friends became very successful and spawned four series. This marked Saunders’ move into children’s television and was also the beginning of his frequent collaborations with director Ian Munro who he continued to work with until 2013.
Other children’s programs Ron worked on at Film Australia include The Girl from Tomorrow, The Girl from Tomorrow Part II: Tomorrow’s End, Spellbinder, Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord, Escape from Jupiter and Return to Jupiter. Saunders has said that the believes the best children’s television has real subtext and that producers have an obligation to be aware of what they are putting into their shows, specifically unideal role models for children and he was very conscious of this on every kids show he was involved with.
It was here that Saunders developed an interest in coproductions with Japan and China. When Johnson and Friends sold to Fuji TV, Ron’s interest was piqued and he promptly entered into a co-production agreement to produce Escape from Jupiter (with NHK) and Johnson and Friends series three (with Fuji TV). The seven part documentary series Mini Dragons (produced in 1993) was another coproduction via Film Australia, with South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia becoming involved.
Collaborations with China
In 1994, Saunders, then employed at Film Australia and Zoe Wang, a translator hired on a contract basis, travelled to Beijing to meet Yu Pei Xia, director of CCTV’s youth and children’s department, who was willing to enter into a partnership. At the World Summit for Children and Television in Melbourne, Yu spoke at length with Saunders, stating that CCTV was very enthusiastic to do the co-production and was particularly interested in doing a preschool full-body costume series, such as Johnson and Friends by Film Australia and Bananas in Pyjamas by the ABC.
In 1995, Ron accepted a job offer with Southern Star and made arrangements to leave Film Australia. He was allowed to continue supervising work on the fourth series of Johnson and Friends as well as a few other series. He continued to develop a concept for a coproduction with CCTV while at Southern Star, this project is what eventually became Magic Mountain.
With proposals in hand for a preschool series and a drama, Saunders and Claire Henderson from the ABC flew to Beijing to spend three days with Yu Pei Xia and his staff. CCTV liked the suggestion for the preschool show featuring suited characters in a magic setting. Xu Xiong Xiong, general manager of the China Television Program Agency of CCTV; Neil Balvanes, managing director, Southern Star; and Ian McGarrity, acting head of television, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, then signed a memorandum of understanding for the co-production.
To ensure a balanced partnership, Australia agreed to handle design and scripting, while China built the sets and produced the show. The project had a director from China (Li Lei) and two from Australia; Ian Munro and Paul Faint.
By early 1996, the Australian parties had written storylines for 20 episodes and first drafts for a half-dozen. Saunders and Henderson worked to complete all storylines, final designs and first drafts for episodes 1 to 12 to show to a delegation of about six CCTV staff, including Yu, who visited Sydney in May that year. Later that year, Ian Munro, Ron Saunders, Claire Henderson and the character designers flew to China to audition cast members for the full body costumes.
Shooting began in September, and the 26 x 10 minute episodes began screening on the ABC in 1997. A second series of Magic Mountain was produced the following year as the set had not been taken down yet. While Paul Faint reprised his role as director, Ian Munro was unable to return for the second series and was replaced by Di Drew and David Evans, who had previously directed episodes of Bananas in Pyjamas, much like Munro and Faint.
The coproduction of Magic Mountain was the beginning of a great relationship between China and Australia’s television and film industries, and many other productions eventuated from this relationship, including ‘hoopla doopla!’ which was also produced by Saunders in association with the ABC and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and The Dragon Pearl which was the first treaty co-production between Australia and China.
Saunders worked for many other broadcasting organisations and at one stage was even Head of Television for ABC TV and Managing Director of Yoram Gross EM-TV. He joined Beyond International in 2001 and managed Pacific & Beyond which was a joint venture company of Beyond.
He was later appointed General Manager for Beyond Screen Production, the division of Beyond which includes children and adult drama, game shows, specialist factual programs and sport.
Some of the programs he produced include New MacDonald’s Farm, Milly, Molly, Double Trouble, Lab Rats Challenge, Toybox, Quest and Pulse. Many of which were collaborations with director Ian Munro.
Saunders retired at the end of 2017 but as he was working on so many projects at the time, many are still being released as late as 2020.
Ron Saunders’s Known film and television credits
- “Ten Minutes” (1973)
- “The Incredibly Magic Super Fantastic Library Resource Centre Kit” (1974)
- “Teaching Reading in the Upper Primary School” (1974)
- “Only Two Wheels” (1974)
- “An Open Space Secondary School at Work” (1974)
- “Yorke Peninsula” (1975)
- “The Expressive Arts: Everyone Succeeds!” (1975)
- “Violoncello and Double Bass” (1975)
- “Violin and Viola” (1975)
- “Untuned Percussion” (1975)
- “Tuned Percussion” (1975)
- “Trumpet and Cornet” (1975)
- “Trombone and Tuba” (1975)
- “The French Horn” (1975)
- “Prison Songs” (2015)
- “Manny Lewis” (2015)
- “Blood and Thunder: The Sound of Alberts” (2015)
- “Beat Bugs” (2016)
- “Fanshaw & Crudnut” (2016)
- “Fanshaw & Crudnut – Attack of the Slug Santas” (2016)
- “Pulse” (2017)
- “Nyoongar Footy Magic” (2017)
- “Indigo Lake” (2017)
- “Motown Magic” (2018)
- “Backburning” (2020)
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