Teaming Up with Beijing

Veteran producer Nina Crone is making Freddy Frogface, a stereoscopic 3Danimated feature from the children's book classic by Ole Lund Kirkegaard, in partnership with animation studios in Beijing.

Following the Danish and international success of the animated feature "Sunshine Barry & The Disco Worms" (2008), producer Nina Crone is plunging into a new, ambitious animation project.

"When I produced" Sunshine Barry & The Disco Worms", animation was a brand new field to me. But that went well and I'm putting that experience to work in the new project," says Crone, who by now as grown very fond of working with animation.


Crone Film

Founded 1976 by producer Nina Crone. Holds a strong card in children's films. An early classic is "The World of Buster" (Bille August, 1984), widely recognized as one of Danish cinema's best children's drama. Among the company's well-known features is "Peter Von Scholten" (Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt, 1987) and the Swedish-Danish coproduction "Freud leaving home" (Susanne Bier, 1991). A major venture into 3D animation is "Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms" (Thomas Borch Nielsen, 2008), including cover versions of famous disco hits. 2011: "Freddy Frogface" (Orla the Frogsnatcher), a 3D animated feature, directed by Gert Fredholm and Peter Dodd.

The Creative Team

The film is co-directed by animation director Peter Dodd, who previously worked on Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" and Sam Fell's "The Tale of Despereaux", and Gert Fredholm, who directed the live-action feature "Lille Virgil og Freddy Frogface". The creative producer is Erik Wilstrup who has wide experience in 3D animation.

Ole Lund Kirkegaard

The first children's book by the Danish writer Ole Lund Kirkegaard (1940-1979), Lille Virgil, came out in 1967 and was an overnight success. Kirkegaard's knack for writing in solidarity with his readers plus his own cheerful, naïve illustrations quickly gave him a wide readership. Several of Kirkegaard's books have been adapted into live-action feature films.

Besides "Freddy Frogface", her production company Crone Film is planning two more 3D-animated features from the popular children's books by the Danish writer Ole Lund Kirkegaard. The screenplay for one," Rubber Tarzan", is already finished and the first tests are in full swing. The third film in the series will be "Otto is a Rhino".

Expect a lot from the partnership

The initial processes – design, 3D-layout, editing, sound and voices – will be done in Denmark, while the later processes, like animation and compositing, will be done on the other side of the planet – in the Xing-Xing Digital Corporation animation studio in Beijing.

"Obviously, that comes with its own set of problems, but the advantages are huge. A lot more people can work on the project at one time without busting the budget. We'll be producing faster, and speed is of the essence considering that the premiere is scheduled for next winter," Crone says.

"We're expecting a lot from this partnership. The people at the Chinese animation studio are super skilled and incredibly enthusiastic," the producer says. A possible tie-in project might also be in the works.

"The Chinese are so excited about the project that not only the films but also Ole Lund Kirkegaard's books might be coming out in China. It would be really great if this partnership could lead to a whole wave of Danish cultural exports to China."

Stories Without Borders

Crone sees no problem in transposing "Freddy Frogface" for Chinese audiences or any other audience for that matter. Ole Lund Kirkegaard's stories are very Danish, but they are also very universal.

"They are all about being small in a world where everyone else is big – and the trouble it can lead to. Also, a lot of the stories are about acting right as opposed to bullying. The stories are universal that way, which makes them relevant across borders and cultures." "Sunshine Barry & The Disco Worms" was sold to more than 60 territories, and Crone has equally big ambitions for "Freddy Frogface".

"We have an international sales agent from Sola Media on the film – the same person who handled "Sunshine Barry". It's still too early to say, but "Freddy Frogface" certainly has the potential to get out there," she says.