LazyTown stands stronger than ever. The company's relatives are big-hearted and seem to have every reason to be optimistic about the business in the coming years. "We have just become part of the Turner group, which in turn is part of Time Warner. Those agreements were finalized late 2011, and the purpose, among other things, to bring on board an owner who has the right distribution channels," say...
Last spring, Kjartan Már Kjartansson, municipal representative in Reykjanesbær, started working for one of the most interesting entrepreneurial companies in the country, LazyTown. For 10 years, Icelanders have followed the development of LazyTown with interest, and today around 130 people work for the company. In an interview with Víkurfréttir, Kjartan Már talks about the job, the collaboration with Magnús Scheving, the creator of LazyTown, and the company’s future possibilities. In the houses of LazyTown at Miðhraun 4 in Garðabær, everything is buzzing with life. Creative people in every corner tackling the most extensive TV project that Icelanders have ever worked on.
LazyTown is approx. 10 years old, and as Icelanders know, the philosophy is the brainchild of the master athlete and entrepreneur Magnús Scheving. It aims to encourage children to adopt and live a healthy life by creating content that is both entertaining and educational” says Kjartan Már.
“In reality, LazyTown is about educating children through play and entertainment, but that’s exactly what I did when I taught violin to children at the Music School in Keflavík for 18 years. So I have a pretty good foundation to build on.” It has been about 10 years since Kjartan Már and Magnús met. “We have always had a good relationship since we met in Spain in 1994, and when I was offered to come and work on this extremely fun project, I jumped like a child” says Kjartan, who started working at LazyTown on June 2004 after more than four years of work at Keflavík Airport ehf.
The study was useful
Kjartan is learning the business little by little, but he completed his master’s degree in business studies, MBA, from the University of Iceland in June 2002.
“All aspects of business operations are being dealt with here; strategic planning, innovation, product development, performance measures, personnel issues, quality management and other aspects. The MBA program and my work experience are therefore useful to me in this job. The funnest thing is the fact that no two days are the same here, and the work is very varied and fun.”
Does not play Sportacus
Kjartan Már is Magnús’ assistant, but their day can be very long. Magnús writes the stories for the episodes in collaboration with two American writers. He directs most of the episodes and is the CEO of the company. Kjartan says there is no shortage of projects. “I’m like a minister’s assistant – I do what needs to be done to make it easier for Magnús to get through the day. I can’t actually play Sportacus or direct the shows, but I help with most other things” says Kjartan with a smile.
Organizes Magnus’ time
During the months when the TV shows are being filmed, the working day in LazyTown is long. “I come to work after my morning swim at home – get to the office at nine o’clock. Then things are reviewed and at this time of the day Magnús is usually on his way to the studio, either to play the Sportacus or to direct. While he is there, I am working on various issues, both large projects that take many weeks to process and smaller issues. We have a lot of communication with foreign countries and now the shows have been sold to Canada and Germany as well as the USA. There are various issues that need to be checked here at home and in the countries with which we have relations, and I put my weight on the scales in those projects like others.
LazyTown has a select team of employees who are a lot of fun to work with. Magnús is in great demand from the media, both in Iceland and abroad, and I am in charge of organizing his time in cooperation with those who manage the day-to-day organization of the film studio. When the shooting ends at night, many things have happened during the day that Magnús needs to be included in. After that, conference calls with foreign countries or other internal meetings take place. I usually go home between ten and eleven at night, but Magnús often stays longer. It’s a pretty long working day in this round” says Kjartan and takes a sip of coffee, “but the recording ends before Christmas and then the working day will change”.
12 employees in the marketing department
The company employs about 130 people during the production of the episodes, but post-production will be completed early next year. When all the processing of the episodes will be completed, there will be around 12 employees left at the sales and marketing company LazyTown. “Then the other side of this business begins, which is renting out the use of the LazyTown brand to those who want to have all kinds of goods produced and sold in the various market areas with the brand, e.g. clothing, toys, school supplies, etc.”
The largest television and film project in Iceland’s history
The rooms in the LazyTown studio are full of life and workers are busy all day. On the lower floor is the film studio and there are the sets of the shows. Kjartan Már says that the latest technology is used when filming the shows. “We record everything in the highest quality (high definition) and we are using technology that has not been used before to the same extent as is done here” says Kjartan, but the possibility of further production is being examined.
Among the ideas that have come up is a full-length movie and that the LazyTown show will be taken on a tour around the world in the coming years. “This is all under consideration” says Kjartan and adds “but the preparation of such giant projects takes a long time, so we are looking many years ahead.” The production of the shows now is the biggest film and television project that has ever been undertaken in Iceland. The combined costs of all other productions in this sector in Iceland this year, both by foreign and Icelandic parties, cannot equal LazyTown’s costs for the production of the TV series. LazyTown therefore accounts for more than half of the entire turnover of the film industry in Iceland this year.
Nice to work with Magnús
In the last decade, Magnús Scheving has been prominent and his energy and clear goals have been noticed in LazyTown. He has received various recognitions for his work as an athlete and entrepreneur, both in Iceland and abroad. But how does Kjartani feel about working with Magnús? “Very fun. He is very focused and knows what he wants. He makes high demands on himself and his employees, as he has achieved good results. From the beginning, he has known exactly where he is going and the words “giving up” are not in his vocabulary” says Kjartan Már.
The adventure is about to begin
And is the future bright now that the filming of the first TV series is being completed? “Yes, I would say so. Although the production of the episodes will soon come to an end, the adventure is just beginning and it is difficult to say how things will develop. We know what we are doing today and tomorrow but it is hard to say exactly what we will have to do in a few months or a year because things are happening so fast now and it is quite clear that there are exciting times ahead here in LazyTown.