Matilda Olsson is the organizational mastermind behind many of Goodbye Kansas’s spectacular visual effects projects. We spoke to Matilda about her role as Executive Producer, the Goodbye Kansas podcast, her love for The Walking Dead and comic books, and to get some advice for all the other producers out there.
Can you please tell us about how you became Executive Producer at Goodbye Kansas?
I started my career as a 3D Artist, but I quickly realized I wanted to work on the more administrative side of the fence. I found coordinating and producing were a better fit for me, while still working in the creative industry that I love. I joined Goodbye Kansas Studios (then known as Fido) as a VFX Producer in 2014. My first project was a short film called Kung Fury, where practically all shots were visual effects shots. It was my first job as a producer, and a great way to learn the complexities involved in helming a large and complex visual effects production with many artists and many different effects.
From that point on, I was hooked on producing. As the company I grew, I received more and more projects to juggle, including shows like The Walking Dead. After a few years, Goodbye Kansas appointed me as Executive Producer. In this role, I often handle several projects simultaneously on an executive level, without diving into every detail. I like the overview that brings along with the sense of satisfaction that comes in guiding projects through the production process.
My current projects include Outlander, For All Mankind, and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. I am also working on a prestigious feature film by a high-profile director. Unfortunately, I’m unable to reveal what it is right now!
Can you please tell us about your day-to-day at Goodbye Kansas?
As Executive Producer, it’s my job to oversee all projects and manage direct contact with each client, making sure everything runs smoothly. All the work we do is a massive team effort; I’m here to provide that broader oversight and ensure the bigger picture makes sense alongside the finer details. I mainly work on TV series and feature films and work closely with both Goodbye Kansas locations in Stockholm and London.
Both the clients and the Goodbye Kansas team depend on me to make informed decisions about our work. To be able to do that, I must follow each production very closely. I check in on progress via dailies, meetings, and discussions with the producers and supervisors managing each team.
In addition to my role as Executive Producer, I am also part of the Goodbye Kansas Sales team. This role requires a lot of client communication and sourcing new and exciting projects for the studio. There’s a lot of satisfaction in securing great work for the Goodbye Kansas team to make their mark on!
The thing I enjoy the most in all of this is the fact that I get to meet so many great people in my line of work, from our talented visual effects artists to fantastic directors and clients with whom we collaborate. The passion and creativity I meet with every day is inspiring!
What are some of the challenges faced by visual effects producers today?
The main challenge hasn’t changed a great deal over the years: deliver the best possible results, on time and within budget! It’s always a challenge, but it’s one that’s manageable.
For instance, when we bid on a project, we estimate the amount of time it will take to produce it. It’s then crucial to keep track of how the project progresses so we can foresee and avoid problems that will cause any delays. ftrack is an excellent tool in this regard. We have an exceptional team of producers, planners, and coordinators who handle the projects on a nuts and bolts level. As an Executive Producer, I can check in on the available information to ensure that everything is running smoothly. I think that’s one of the great things about ftrack: it works very well for all levels working on a production.
One of the ways to stay on top of the challenges of production is to continually evolve and seek out new, more effective ways to produce visual effects. At Goodbye Kansas, we’re trailblazers at heart, and we’re always pushing ourselves to find more beneficial ways to make great content. That’s one of the reasons why we love research and development, and why we now have departments providing services focused on real-time visual effects and digital humans technology.
Do you have any tips for those just starting out as a visual effects producer in the industry?
I think it’s vital to have an artistic background or at least have a deep understanding of the different elements that make up a visual effects production. You need to know how all the different pieces fit together. I would also say it’s sensible to build a strong foundation: start as a coordinator before spreading your wings and helming projects as VFX Producer.
It’s also essential to remember that all VFX productions are inherently team efforts. We’re doing all of this together, and that’s a fantastic feeling. Once you’re up and running in the role, never lose your connection with the artists that create the work. Communicating and collaborating with them helps you not only to foresee possible problems and pitfalls but to understand them too. That makes them so much easier to avoid. Building those relationships will also always remind you of the passion for creativity that makes our industry so great. It’s great to see just how enthusiastic artists can get when making something exciting.
You’re a self-professed film and comics buff. What are some of your favorites?
I love all sorts of movies, but I’ve always been a fan of superheroes and comic book-based film, fantasy, and sci-fi. That ties in great with what I do – I get to see all of these things come to life up close! For example, working with The Walking Dead – that was a landmark moment in my career. I have always loved the comic books, so being able to work on the show for four years was a dream come true!
It’s a great time right now, where technology makes it entirely possible to transform the imagination of all those beloved books and comics into immersive film and television.
Tell us a little about Yellow Brick Road!
Yellow Brick Road is our Goodbye Kansas podcast, where we share our passion for movies, games, and visual effects. It’s hosted by our Marketing Director, Nils Lagergren. He invites artists and employees from Goodbye Kansas to talk about various topics. Sometimes it’s about productions that we’ve made here at the studio, taking a kind of “behind-the-scenes approach”, and sometimes it’s just about stuff that we love, like a specific movie genre or trends in the visual effects world. I’m one of the regulars. I love every opportunity I get to participate and talk about nerdy stuff or movies I love. It’s all good fun!
Can you give some insight into how ftrack supports your role as Executive Producer?
ftrack was initially developed as an in-house software at Fido (one of the studios that later merged to become Goodbye Kansas), so one could say that ftrack is in our DNA. As mentioned, for me, as an Executive Producer, ftrack is crucial in gaining an overview of all the projects I helm. I can also zoom in to the smallest detail to see all progress on a micro-level. It helps us producers to keep track of schedules, collate information provided by the client, and communicate with artists – all in one platform.
Goodbye Kansas Studios is today the largest VFX company in Sweden, and we would never have got here without ftrack!
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