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Director Tomas Jonsgården and Ponder Bring Three Ireland’s Jeff the Bearded Dragon to Life

Production Company
Dublin, Ireland
Ponder sits down with Tomas to discuss the making of the new film

Tomas Jonsgården, director with Ponder chats about making his new film for Three Ireland ‘Jeff's World’ where a bearded dragon escapes his humdrum life on the back of a robot vacuum cleaner, taking to the streets in a dream of flamboyant joy and freedom to the beats of Bonnie Tyler. 

Q> When you saw this script for the first time, what did you think?

Tomas> I just have to do this. Whatever it takes. 

Q> What were your key thoughts about making this film?

Tomas> I wanted to do something that was pure joy in the commercial break. Something funny, weird, uplifting and yet somehow totally captures the moment. I think we all have the need for something joyful and funny in these dark times we live in. The world is a f**ked up place at the moment.

Q> This film is very different from the rest of your work. How did you feel about taking this brief?

Tomas> Exciting! I love to explore and try new things I’ve never done before. That’s the beauty of what we’re doing, right? Each project is different to the other, and that’s a good thing. Actually, I love to be at the bottom of the learning curve and never completely satisfied. This gives me energy and interest to learn more and try new things. At the same time, all the collected experiences I have gathered throughout the years are useful. In the end of the day it comes down to storytelling and characters and what makes people emotionally engaged. 

Q> How did you go about making this film?

Tomas> This is a story about, and inspired by, an animal who has spent his whole life in a cage, finally experiencing how it feels to be free. So, I wanted every single frame to radiate the feeling of freedom and liberation.  This is something we all can relate to after the years of pandemic and lockdowns. 

It’s also about the storytelling. What happens to Jeff? Why? How does he feel about it? What kind of dude is he? These are the questions we needed to ask and answer.

Q> The character of Jeff stands out – how did you capture such real and powerful small nuance reactions from this bearded dragon?

Tomas> Bearded dragons are known for their strong personality, and that’s what I wanted to bring out in Jeff. This is partly about character design and of course I would work closely to the animators at Framestore, to anthropomorphise Jeff’s expressions and attitude whilst keeping him completely realistic as a lizard. 

Q> Did you enjoy the process?

Tomas> Very much. It was exciting to see how Jeff came to life from a simple grey scale placeholder to the final result. Framestore did a great work, not only with the animation, but also guiding us all through the process. And the client were patient and bold. You need a bit of imagination.

Q> What’s next for Jeff?

Tomas> I’m not sure, since I’m not an expert of bearded dragon’s psychology. But probably he’ll continue exploring the big world now when he gets the taste of it. I hope we get to see more of him.

‘Jeffs World’ was produced by Ponder for Boys & Girls.  It was shot in Cape Town, South Africa with post production at Framestore London.  

“Joy and freedom. Those two words defined this brief," explains Kris Clarkin, creative director Boys + Girls. "We knew that whatever we made needed to bring a smile to the viewer’s face, and this idea instantly made us all smile. In many ways, Jeff is like us, excited to get back out and experience the world – and who wouldn’t want their daily life scored by Bonnie Tyler!”

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