Chloe Lang is the name of the ten-year-old American actress who plays Stephanie in the next season of the TV series about LazyTown, which is currently being filmed. Chloe is a great athlete who loves to sing and dance. She is excited to see herself on screen. What is your full name and how old are you?My name is Chloe Lang and I am 10 years old. Where are you from? I live in Connecticut,...
Magnús Scheving recently received Edda’s honorary award for his contribution to the Icelandic film industry. He has been strict for the past few years in the construction of LazyTown and says he is nowhere close to stopping. Freyr Bjarnason talked to Magnús about Walt Disney, the popularity and the endless spike jumps.
LazyTown has been gaining ground as one of the most popular children’s content in the world. The show is shown in 103 countries and reaches millions of viewers. A lot of effort has gone into making them here in Iceland. About 160 people work there and over 400 effects are used in each episode. All this then translates directly to the TV screen in digital quality. Magnús Scheving himself has directed 40 of the 53 episodes that have been produced, as well as script writing in collaboration with others.
Compliments to Hrafn and Friðrik Þór
Magnús says that the Edda Award was a great surprise to him. “This is a motivation for all the people around me who are working on this. I didn’t really take this award to heart. Many of the people involved have never been named. What is perhaps even more important are the men who paved the way for Icelanders, such as Jón Þór in Saga film, Snorri in Pegasus and of course Hrafn Gunnlaugsson and Friðrik Þór and a lot of other filmmakers who may have put their homes and lives aside only to educate and train people in this business so we can use them. It’s mind blowing that someone has the will to do this for others.”
World Championships aerobics a good warm-up
Magnús admits that he almost risked his life himself. “Nothing really comes naturally unless you are lucky, and luck only exists temporarily,” he says. “I’m doing something I enjoy and I shouldn’t cry about the fact that sometimes things are difficult. But of course you have to deal with difficult things. I come home from work and could only sleep for 40 minutes until the next morning starts. When we recorded these 35 episodes, we were coming home at five o’clock and maybe going out again at eight thirty. We did this for fourteen months every day of the week.”
But how has he actually done this? “I think I was incredibly lucky in that way to be in really good shape before going into this and I’d say the [Aerobics] World Championships was just a good warm-up,” he laughs.
Lonely like Walt Disney
Magnús says he is a built-in yogi and that has come in handy. “I’ve found in recent years that I can get energy all over the place. Running out of energy doesn’t happen often to me, but of course you get tired and then you make the wrong decisions,” he says, comparing himself in some ways to Walt Disney, who was lonely because no one understood him to begin with. Also, Disney often had financial difficulties and went bankrupt three times. Magnús himself says that he has never been close to bankruptcy, and he has never taken money from LazyTown for himself.
With apples to the USA
Magnús has been diligent, in the guise of Sportacus, in supporting a good cause. He has received thousands of letters requesting his powers. Recently he was in London to open a gym named after him and he has also visited sick children. “The thing that affected me the most was a sick boy in the United States who had little left. I decided to leave immediately and asked what I should bring to him. Then he said sports candy, or an apple. Then you realize when you fly halfway around the world with one apple in your suitcase, how much responsibility comes with it and how much impact it has.”
LazyTown no fast food
An article by an Icelandic literary critic was recently published in which LazyTown was criticized for working against everything the show preaches. The show itself would be an illusion that encouraged kids to stay indoors, stare at the TV and then buy all kinds of LazyTown products.
Magnús says that he understand the criticism but that there are other ways of looking at it. “I am not sure that LazyTown is the best program in the world, but I am sure that LazyTown has done its best. Without knowing anything about it, I doubt that she [the author of the article] has children. It is quite important when you have children, you think differently,” says Magnús. “I actually think that if LazyTown was a fast food brand, it would be advertising like 99% of all children’s content on sweets. There is a 300% markup and there you get your money back. In Iceland, LazyTown has not even reached juice, it just went to water, which is not a very profitable business.
Rumors that LazyTown is going to gain a foothold in the toy market, says Magnús, are justified, but that this is only done so that the shows can be produced. Each episode of LazyTown costs 42 to 56 million ISK, which is much more expensive than it usually is. Magnús says he wants to ensure that the quality is there, and therefore money needs to be brought in to pay for it all, because television stations pay little for children’s content.
On milk cartons in Mexico
Magnús has just returned from the UK, where he did a number of press and television interviews. He went on a talk show where Michael Bolton was among the guests. A LazyTown single will also be released there in the near future and is predicted to be very popular. Popularity in South America is also increasing, and next year images of Sportacus will be placed on 4.5 million milk cartons per day in Mexico. The Brazilians and Argentines are also planning to set up large LazyTown exhibitions. Apart from this, drafts are being made for the first LazyTown movie that will deal with the origin of Sportacus. “LazyTown is at a crossroad. LazyTown can merge with a large company, it could be bought by another company, and we could decide to expand LazyTown and make a difference. It is true that LazyTown has never received funding. We applied but have always received no, but I am very happy that the government is going to put more money into the Icelandic film industry,” he says.
50 jumps and 150 push-ups
Magnús says he has many years left in LazyTown. “Yesterday [Thursday] I had to do 50 spike jumps and 150 push-ups and I have to admit it’s getting harder and harder. I turned 42 the other day and it’s starting to take longer to recover. I don’t have much time to practice but I’m trying my best to do this. You need to be in shape in every shoot. You may have to jump in split at nine in the morning, again at two and then at six. You need to be physically in shape all day, day after day, and that’s more than enough to say. I didn’t realize this when I created LazyTown.”