puffins impossible

Anđelka Janković, Kristina Bojanić and Marija Jelušić form a great trio that, along with several team members, breathed life into the globally popular children's (and not only children's) animated series Puffins Impossible series.

Although their positions in the ILBE Studios, which is the creator of this achievement, are different, all three found great satisfaction working on this demanding undertaking. Anđelka, Kristina and Marija were guests of the successfully finished Novi Sad Film Festival , within the the story selection, which gave the audience the opportunity to meet leaders from the field of film industry, animation and modern technologies, and they shared with us their thoughts on the extraordinary success they achieved with the joint project, about their previous experiences, the combination of animation and art, and about the Festival itself, which they consider a perfect opportunity for domestic and foreign filmmakers.

Anđelka, to what extent did your experience in marketing in the fields of culture help you in your current position as marketing director of ILBE Studio, and what were your biggest business challenges when it comes to the Puffins Impossible series?

AnđelkaI think that in my case, when meeting Andrea Iervolino and Peter Nalli, my experience was crucial, primarily in the distribution of independent films but also studio films from Disney and Warner Bros, as well as the experience of working in culture and art with artists. I think that the approach to the film, as well as to the artists who should have been employed in the beginning, is very different, and that certainly gave me a differential advantage and the certainty that I know what I should be doing.

I wanted to copy the Hollywood model, that is, the distribution model of Disney films, for our independent series because, so far, it has always given me excellent results. The challenge for me was that we were not preparing for cinema distribution but for streaming platforms outside the borders of our country. It was a new model of work for me because I moved from the role of a distributor to the role of a creator who wants "the work of our hands" to be displayed and promoted in the best possible way.

We learned a lot together along the way, and it was a great pleasure to create an original font, poster, and trailer for the series with my great colleagues and a great responsibility to present it to a domestic and international audience of millions.

I can say that I am learning a lot about trends and ways to promote short series in an era of content hyperproduction. Short forms and our attention, as well as entertainment tech, through work on the series and in the studio, became something that interested me for further study.

Coming to ILBE Studios , I was involved in a lot of things before working on the series, and that's why I'm glad to have the opportunity to share an interview with fellow artists. It is important for me to present other occupations of producers, content creators, marketing supervisors, designers, editors, internal communications, social media managers and the like, because in a studio like this, other occupations are needed that create and recreate content in cooperation with colleagues from production.

I'm a producer by profession, and that's why I'm very proud of my team that produces content every day to make the work of our colleagues visible and appealing to the audience, so they choose to watch it, decide to work for us, or follow our content.

Kristina, you had the unique opportunity to be the screenwriter of the first animated series produced in Serbia, which is popular worldwide. What preceded your cooperation with ILBE Studios and how did you decide to write a screenplay intended for the youngest and most demanding audience?

Kristina: Before coming to ILBE Studios , I noticed that children's scripts are a field in which I swim like a fish in water. My job is to play, and I am by nature just like the children I write for. I believe in the stories I tell, I fall in love with the characters I write about, and I take pride in watching them become animated films. For me, coming to ILBE Studios is meant that I had finally arrived home.

Marija, considering your experience with documentary forms and feature films, how different is the process of editing an animated series from others?

Marija: Coming to ILBE Studios I started to get acquainted with the world of editing in animation, which was unknown to me until then. What I would single out as the biggest difference is the order of actions in the process of creating an animated series. In practice, we edit the animation before it is animated.

That means that, along with the storyboard artists and directors, we have much more control over the content, form, and internal rhythm of the frame, and we tend to make the animatics a precise blueprint for the animator to animate. If I could describe the editing of a documentary film as putting together a puzzle, the editing of an animated series would be the creation of a puzzle, where we explore our analytical and creative skills in a new way.

Anđelka, what do you consider to be the key factor responsible for the commercial success of the Puffins Impossible series?

Anđelka: At first, I thought it would be a collaboration with Johnny Depp, who lent his voice and character to the main character, Johnny Puff. However, since the same actor lent his voice to the same character in the series Puffins, of which the Puffins Impossible series is a spin-off and which exceeded the results and viewership of its predecessor series, I think it is a question of the quality of performance contributed by our artists under the supervisor and showrunnerof the series, Peter Nalli.

A lot of attention was put into the creation of the pipeline, aesthetics, and story, and this was not given up even in the production of promotional materials. We strive for perfection. Our local artists are outstanding directors, as well as outstanding draftsmen, animators, generalists, composers, and editors. Simply put, our school, talent, passion for work, willingness to learn and improve, as well as dedication to what we do in each segment, gave that final touch and were the icing on the cake that ensured the great success of the series. I was very proud to finally see all our names on the big screen at your festival! Thank you for that.

Kristina and Maria, in your experience, how close is animation to art, and what do you see as its main advantages over other expressions?

Kristina: It is fantastic that every art can find its place in animation, because we writers do not hesitate to give a character in the script the opportunity to dance, act in a small theater, play the guitar, make a film, etc. Animated films keep the child in humans and develop a human in a child; they inspire us to be who we are or what we want to be.

As they unite other arts, animated films also unite a team of people who, in the process of work, become a family that can only survive and fulfill the dreams of not only its members but also serve as inspiration and motivation to a wide audience.

Marija: There are many advantages, starting with the practical ones, such as manpower, equipment, and space, which in the production of animation are reduced to the comfort of our desk and the team of authors. In animation, it is possible to visualize something that would be either impossible or too expensive in a feature film, and that opens the door to new ways of telling a story.

Anđelka, how would you rate the current position of women in the animation and IT industries in Serbia?

Anđelka: It's hard for me to rate. I am a great fighter for equality and a balanced society, and I want a society where everyone will realize their potential and do what they love without the need to count percentages. But by the time we get to that, there will be a lot more "animation to flow". I believe that there are more and more women in this industry, but that they are still present in large numbers in support positions and departments.

And further, if, for example, let's go see an event with scholarship results, the ratio of women to men will be 1:10. There are more and more women, but we are still dealing with the questions of how much our voice is heard, how much we can influence, and how much we are allowed to influence. I think that our position is still challenging in every field, including this one. In general, the film and animation industries are decidedly male-dominated.

I can't say, but I think men are still paid more, and they still agree more easily among themselves. Also, I think that women make a huge contribution and have a big impact not only on production but on the industry in general, but that it is not so visible. I am always optimistic, and I try to pave the way for my colleagues, future generations, and, of course, for myself with my work and courage.

We had the opportunity to meet you at the Novi Sad Film Festival, where you presented your specific professional experiences. In your opinion, how important are such events for artistic projects and their authors?

KristinaSuch events are of crucial importance because an artistic project needs to be seen and talked about in order to reach its audience. The artist must stand firmly behind him like a parent behind a child, support him regardless of the circumstances, and, above all, love him unconditionally from beginning to end.

MarijaThe essence of our work is that the product of our work does not remain in a vacuum; therefore, it is necessary for us to find out if what we are doing is good and if we are on the right path. It was great to see people who were interested in spending their Sunday morning looking at our work and later talking to the author team. It means a lot to us, and it is of great importance that local cinematography is promoted as well as local authors so that we get to know each other and bring our work closer to the audience.

AnđelkaFestivals are definitely events that I adore, and I spent a large part of my career as an organizer of film festivals; among them was Cinema City in Novi Sad, and I also worked at theater festivals. This type of event is a phenomenon that, as important as it is for the audience, is as important, if not more important, for the authors and creators. There's something special about festivals, and I honestly love film festivals that give non-commercial films life and creators a space to create.

We all love this job because of the crowd, and we love being in the crowd. Therefore, thank you for creating another festival and thus giving us and other artists the opportunity for the audience to get to know our work and ourselves, but also for us to meet other experts, share experiences, and celebrate our achievements. We wish you many more festival openings and closings, many more films, and recognition for your work and contribution. 

Photo: Ilbe Studios, Vladimir Veličković