Mark Shirrefs and long-time collaborator John Thomson met while undergraduates at the Victorian College of the Arts Drama School in 1976. They worked separately in the performing arts for some years, specialising as comedy directors and writers. Shirrefs co-founded the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and directed plays for the Murray River Performing Group and Theatreworks. Shirrefs and Thomson completed the Swinburne Institute of Technology postgraduate film course in 1982 and 1986 respectively.
Their first collaboration was 1990's Let The Blood Run Free, a satire of day-time hospital soap operas, which had begun life as an improvished stage show in Melbourne but was brought to television after the intervention of Ian McFadyen. Shirrefs and Thomson are, however, best known for their extensive body of work in children's science-fiction and fantasy television, which began in 1989 with The Girl from Tomorrow for Channel 9. It won an AWGIE Award for best original children's script and sold in over sixty countries. The 1991 sequel series, Tomorrow's End, won an ATOM Award and had similar commercial success. Both series were novelised and published by Hodder and Stoughton.
In 1995, Shirrefs and Thomson developed Spellbinder, another children's science-fiction/fantasy series, for Channel 9. A co-production between Film Australia and Polish Television, it won two ATOM awards, an AWGIE award, and an AFI award. Two Spellbinder novels were published in 1995. Spellbinder was followed by a sequel, Spellbinder II: Land of the Dragon Lord.
'When fifteen year-old Zac goes camping on Mako Island, he has no idea his every move is being monitored by real-life mermaids Sirena, Nixie and Lyla, whose job it is to ward off trespassers. When he comes into contact with the magical waters of the Moon Pool on the night of a full moon, Zac is given a taste of Mako's powers, waking the next day to discover he has been granted fin-like feet and the power to control water…causing all sorts of trouble for Sirena, Nixie and Lyla.'
The Adventures of Figaro Pho2012series - publisher film/TV children's 'Everyone of us has got at least one irrational fear... in the case of Figaro Pho, he has them all.
'The Adventures of Figaro Pho is a series about a warm-hearted, adorable, quirky and mischievous character who just happens to be afflicted with every phobia imaginable. He's afraid of vampires, toilets, mad dogs, aliens, and being stared at by a duck!
'He's also petrified of being alone, and so Figaro has created a mechanical companion - a dog-like robot he calls Rivet.
'Figaro and Rivet live in a rundown Gothic-style mansion built precariously on a cliff above the small town of Cogville. Figaro's crumbling house is effectively a death trap containing thousands of things that he fears, and unfortunately the outside world is even more terrifying to poor Figaro.
'The outside world insists on knocking on Figaro's door, bringing all sorts of new characters and phobias into Figaro's life. On the odd occasion when Figaro finds the courage to venture down into the town, his phobias escalate even further. New faces and new places mean new fears!