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Chilean Animation

Zander: Trip to the center of the idea

“Zander”  is a stop-motion animated series that promotes critical thinking in children between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. A series about adventures where a question triggers the action and the journeys that the characters experience. “It’s not a series seeking to teach philosophy, but there are different schools of thought represented through the characters based on the subject of the episode,” explains Stefania Malacchini, one of the creators.

The main idea of the script originated from Stefania Malacchini and Maria Lusia Furche, in 2015, after meeting a brilliant kid with whom they worked with at an aesthetic appreciation workshop. Alexander (Zander) was around 7 years old back then and inspired the series because of his ability to wonder about the world around him and not be afraid to explore the answers.

“The series seeks to reinforce the idea of asking questions, regardless of the answer or conclusion. This process is very nourishing during childhood, it generates autonomous and critical thinking, something that we as a team care deeply about. Especially during these times”, explains Kike Ortega, director of Zander. He also adds that “in these times of hyperconnectivity, the series can represent a soothing agent for children that are exposed to more adult content, such as dramatic soap operas or court shows.” 

Before starting with the project, its creators Malu, Stefi and Kike Ortega (the director) won the public fund CORFO Series for the development and teaser of the series. Later, the production company Tres Tercios joined the team, and they used those resources to apply to the CNTV public fund, which they won, and that became the main source of funding for the project. Finally, Señal Colombia joined as co-producer, which helped them complete the budget and to cushion the consequences of the pandemic.

Tres Tercios was founded by 4 friends: Jeremy Hatcher, Simón Vargas, Allan Bortnic and Pablo Arias. They have been working together for about 10 years and have completed several productions, in different formats and genres, from which stand out the TV documentary series “Por la razón y la ciencia” and “Kulmapu,” and the live action film “About the dead” (Ondamedia). Zander is their first major stop-motion animation project, so they relied on a team with extensive experience. Many of them worked in the series “Paper Port” by Zumbástico; Kike, director of “Zander,” directed a few episodes in the second season, and has dedicated his career to stop-motion.

Mila and Leo, two girls as different as they are brilliant, create Zander, a boy robot, in their secret garage. When Zander wakes up, he is full of questions about the  meaning of being alive. The friends, trying to answer his questions, embark with him on fantastic journeys through curious and extraordinary imaginary worlds.

“The main challenge, in comparison to live action, I think, is to understand and to consider the length of the  process. The number of seconds you can accomplish in a day working on live action is more than in stop-motion. To keep the quality and enthusiasm for so long is very complex,” says Stephania Malacchini

Animation in the time of quarantine

The sudden lockdown forced them to rethink the production model in order to finish the series, because stop-motion can’t be done remotely and requires a lot of people. “We had to implement the entire health protocol to operate under these circumstances. We also, with all the limitations, had to complete multiple tasks and manage with what we had and those who were here. For example, I am terrible at crafts, and I had to make the sleeves for a character’s shirt.  The animation team, on their part, created incredible mechanisms to achieve all the scenes and shots despite the reduced space we had,” recalls Arias.

“We also had to move the studios from Estación Mapocho to our office, which is considerably smaller. There, with a smaller crew, we had to be creative, so the series didn’t experience a loss in quality. For example, the director of photography managed the computer from her home and gave instructions to the animator, or whoever was setting the shot, so they could move a spotlight or filter a light. Without the support and the commitment of the team, it would have been impossible, and we are succeeding,” says Malacchini.

The series is currently in the production stage of the last episodes and the creators estimate that everything should be ready by July 2021. Pablo Arias says that “we still don’t have an official date, but it should premiere during the second half of the year in Chile (TVN) and in Colombia. We obviously want the series to be seen by as many people as possible, in every territory. Consequently, we are constantly searching for new platforms to broadcast it.”

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