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Esteu aquí: Inici Magazine Mercedes Marro, director of Tomavistas, interview

Mercedes Marro, director of Tomavistas, interview

Mercedes Marro is the director of Tomavistas, audiovisual producer specialized in animation series. We’ve talked with her about her success “Lara què fem?”(Ask Lara)-nominated to the Emmy Kids Awards last February-, about projects which are about to appear and about the real situation of Catalan and Spanish animation.

Animac Magazine: What is the origin of Tomavistas?

Mercedes Marro : I studied Fine Arts, and there I chose an optional subject about animation. With the work group we created, we made our first animated music video. We liked the experience so much, so we went on making music videos and animated pieces. When we created the company in 2001, we specialized in animated series for children.

A: During your trajectory, you’ve produced several animation series, but “Lara què Fem?”(Ask Lara) is the one which has given you more happiness because of its world success. Describe us a little bit about the project.

MM: “Lara què fem?” (Ask Lara) is the first international co-production created only in Tomavistas. Talks, in a really natural way, about taboo puberty topics - like: menstruations, erections or wet dreams- from the point of view of girls and boys, from the feelings and emotions of the characters. People get surprised when they explain it or when they discover it: I think we have to reeducate ourselves a little bit. We also worked with people of these ages, and we didn’t want to give them a special information, we wanted them to realize that these kind of things happen to everyone, and everyone takes them in a different and personal way… we wanted, in fact, to open a little window to normality.

A: Which is the origin of “Ask Lara”? Do you have a personal link with it or, is it a topic that you’d always wanted to explore?

MM: We are always looking for new ideas and proposals, conceptual and graphic, trying to create original contents that aren’t in fashion. This is what motivates us. When we first set out what it was going to be our new production, it’s true that the fact that I’ve got a 12-years-old daughter had an influence, and at home there was a guide book for pre-teenagers. It was the first book my daughter devoured. Since then, I started analyzing how these kind of books were, I discovered that there was a huge editorial genre about it, and that they have evolved a lot from the books I had when I was a child. Nowadays we can find that they are so much more dynamic books which talk about all, all the topics that can affect children - also topics like bullying or abuse – but explained to children in a fresh and direct way. The idea, in summary, was trying to move it to the screen: quotidian children stories but without silencing these topics.

A: You could count on the help of medical consultant of Sant Joan de Déu with the script. What kind of contents guided and regulated you?

MM: The advice was medical and psychological, but we had been working a lot of time before with child contents, so we already had lots of experience! They didn’t have to correct us a lot, only some medical details, like for example, in a script which was set in the UK where there were told sleep problems in teens. They recommend not to eat cheese at night, a strong belief there, but science researches have demonstrated that eating cheese favors sleep.

A: After “Ask Lara”, “Picnic with cake” is your new Project, it’s ready to be performed for the first time: a Belgium-Holland- Catalonia coproduction; we could see a little excerpt in Animac. Being a series for a pre-school target, have you had to work and assess even more the contents?

MM: There have been a lot more consultants in “Ask Lara”, where BBC participated in the creation of the contents too, looking for a more educational look. “Picnic with Cake” is an entertainment series, and the contents are so safe, address to its audience. In fact it is based on the Holland books for children by the writer Thé Tjong-Khing and they’re so visual: a double page with a big illustration – always with the same general frame, without texts – full of little characters who make a choral story where all the inhabitants of a town go together to a picnic.

A: So, how have you adapted this kind of choral narrative, without framing, to the audiovisual language?

MM: We have structured the series in the shape of a jigsaw puzzle, and each chapter follows the point of view of one of the characters of the picnic, so there can be interactions among other lines of other characters from other chapters. It is so curious the freedom that Dutch, people give to you, used to explore risky television concepts and formats, and that has allowed us to be a little bit more experimental with the narrative.

A: Which perception do you have about the Spanish animated industry nowadays? Which advise or advises would you give to these new generations and young people who want to start their own series, their own production?

MM: It’s true we are living a joy period, since the success and the prestige of productions like “Rides” or “Tadeo Jones”, and a lot of media are talking about it, about this prosperity. We have to remember that animation productions are slow and so expensive, with equipments which need to be built in a solid way, and every time we depend on international co-productions. It is a beautiful job but slave. To the young people I would ask them to be patient and conscious because today raising a project will be so much slow and expensive.

Animac Magazine: Thank you for your time!

Marcedes Marro takes part on the speech of Friday 1st March of MEDIA Antena Catalunya, explaining her successful case with “Ask Lara”. The speech address to animation producers has the purpose of giving the tools and the knowledge of the funding mechanisms in animation productions.

By Xavier Manuel

La Paeria - Ajuntament de Lleida

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