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Maria Stevnbak Westergren

Maria Stevnbak Westergren
Vilstrup Film & Projects, Toolbox Film
Pitching: Woodlings

What is the biggest issue facing the animation industry?
The industry wants more animation and is asking for more volume at cheaper prices, but still expects high quality. So it’s really difficult to make it meet in the middle and find a balance between creative ambition and broadcasters’ needs.

What is your company doing in response to this?
We go with projects that are of high quality in the sense of design and story, but with a small set-up to lower the costs so that we can meet the demand for volume. Otherwise, we end up with a project which is wonderful, but which we cannot give life to. We also need to take care of our creative, so we don’t want to say yes to something that we know will be too tough if the budget doesn’t meet the ambition.

Are physical animation studios essential or is working from home the future of the industry?
What I need from our creatives and our team is to be in the same room together, but remote working can create bigger opportunities for coproductions. So working from home can help with doing more coproductions in the future, but I also believe in basic human contact. We need to be in the same room with the ones we work with every day.

How do you feel about Disney’s decision to close many of its TV channels around the world?
It doesn’t surprise me; we live in a digital world. In the Nordic countries we have new online platforms for kids’ entertainment and that will happen more and more. So I’m not that nervous about it.

Tell us about the project you are pitching at Cartoon Forum.
Woodlings (52×4’) is a series of short, poetic, funny stories about the cute animals in the forest. The focus is on the four seasons, with one season represented in each episode, and it is based on basic emotions and basic colours to match our target audience of 0-5s. It has commercial potential as it has a lot of heart, as well as humour. We have a Danish broadcaster and Danish streaming platform wanting to come on board, but I am waiting for Cartoon Forum before I close deals.



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