As Head of Production and Lineproducer at Animationsinstitut, Anna Matacz oversees up to 40 projects a year. She is the central contact person for all production questions and shows the producing students what is important when implementing animation, VFX and game projects.
"It can actually be anything," Anna Matacz answers with a laugh when asked what concerns students turn to her with. "Sometimes I feel like a big sister who you can always seek advice from." At Animationsinstitut, Anna is the central contact person for students' project work. In the project studies program, in which production teams form and independently develop media projects such as animated films or games, she and the project supervisors advise students on planning and implementing their projects.
"They can come to me with anything that's on their mind and I'll try to help," Anna explains. Often, for example, it's about structuring workflows, estimating timeframes for milestones or discussing together how to use the budget wisely, she says. "But we also often discuss interpersonal issues, like when someone in the team is not feeling well." Thanks to many years of experience, Anna has a few tips ready and knows where unexpected pitfalls can lurk. Her job is very similar to that of producers off campus, she says. "In productions, they are usually the first point of contact for everyone involved when questions of any kind arise. That's also what makes the job so exciting and varied."
Anna is in particularly close contact with students at the institute who study Animation/Effects Producing. In the productions, tasks and responsibilities are distributed among the students in a way that is also common in production companies in the industry. As producers, students take on tasks such as budget planning, time management and product marketing. As a rule, they are involved in several project teams at the same time. "Budget, time, quality. Those are the three crucial points for producing that they have to pay attention to," Anna emphasizes. Producing students receive comprehensive training in these areas in workshops.
Anna herself can easily empathize with the students. She also studied producing at Filmakademie and was one of the first students to choose Animation/Effects Producing as a specialization within the project studies at Animationsinstitut. She graduated in 2013 and returned in 2015 as Head of Production.
The Stuttgart native wanted to study at Filmakademie already after graduating from high school. However, it took another six years to get there. Although it was clear to her that she wanted to do "something with media" as a career, "Filmaka still seemed unattainably far away to me at the time," Anna recalls, "you have a lot of respect for Filmakademie and you are initially intimidated to apply." She didn't feel ready and wanted to first gain experience to figure out for herself what exactly it is she wanted to do in the media industry.
She decided to train as an advertising saleswoman. "That was a good school for my further career path. I was in a small advertising agency, where I was exposed to a lot of different tasks, from accounting to project management," she says. "I was a jack-of-all-trades there in the most positive sense." After that, Anna still "wanted more" and studied theater and media at the University of Bayreuth. That is where she realized she could definitely combine her experience as a businesswoman with work in the creative industry and wanted to focus on a job in producing. During her studies, she was involved with Bayreuth Campus TV, for which she produced short films in various roles. This is how she discovered her passion for the field of production. She then ventured to apply at Filmakademie for the Producing program, which she succeeded in right away.
Her preference for the field of animation emerged during the course of her studies. "I always liked animated films, so I got familiar with the tasks of the animation and VFX pipeline," she recalls. In addition, she says, the need for such specializations in producing was great in the industry back then and is still today. "The tasks are different from live-action film producing because a lot of the work is done exclusively on the computer."
Like her students, she also realized some impressive film projects as a producer during her studies. For example, the animated short Bob, on which she collaborated with director Jacob Frey, who now works for Disney. She also undertook her final project with him, the multiple award-winning film The Present. In between, she worked as a producer on numerous other student projects, such as the artistic short Kellerkind, directed by Julia Ocker, an animator now known for the internationally successful children's series Animanimals. Anna also produced television features, such as a 2013 piece for the Polish Disney Channel featuring world footballer Robert Lewandowski.
"After I graduated, I stayed here for family reasons and didn't go abroad to the big production companies like many others of my class," Anna says without regret. After all, there are several production companies in Stuttgart in the fields of visual effects and animation. She found work as a project manager at one of the most important studios, Studio Mackevision, which is, among other things, known for the special effects in the blockbuster series Game of Thrones. She worked as an account manager and produced numerous clips with VFX for major German and Asian car brands. In 2015, she was called back to Animationsinstitut.
Since Anna has been Head of Production there, she has already helped developing some talent. "Pretty much all of Animationsinstitut's producing graduates end up in good positions," she points out. After their studies, they are experienced managers who can set up projects in all kinds of areas. The network they get into here at Animationsinstitut also gives them the opportunity to make contacts in the film and game industry right from the start. "Most start their careers, for example, as production managers in the film industry or as so-called coordinators."
The starting point for their career are the high quality productions during their studies. At Animationsinstitut, people like Anna ensure the professional level of student work through their consultations and briefings. "Our projects are often challenging and require a lot of time and work," Anna explains. "But when the finished product is at the end and your name appears in the credits, you know the effort was worth it." That's what she tries to convey to her students.