Meeting with John M. Jacobsen - Fredrikstad Animation Festival

Meeting with John M. Jacobsen

John M. Jacobsen is the grand master of Norwegian films and stand as the greatest producer over decades in evolving the industry, in as its success today. Many of the key figures of the national scene of animation and visual effects has started their careers in films and TV-series developed by Jacobsen. His stand in the film industry is recognized by the contributions to the animation film industry, as well as his efforts to elevate the importance of visual effects and concept arts in Norwegian cinema. This has affected the way a thriving film industry both works today and how major movies have their visual appearance today.

As a producer, Jacobsen has significantly contributed to the establishment of the internationally acclaimed Norwegian CGI, animation, and VFX communities. His work has also further developed the significance of strong visual language used in major Norwegian film productions. In this encounter with the veteran of Norwegian cinema, you will gain a better understanding of his thoughts on how Norwegian Cinema should appear visually and how it should engage with the audience.


John M. Jacobsen

John M. Jacobsen started his career in the film industry at the age of 15 as a bouncer and program manager for a local cinema on the outskirts of Oslo. At the age of 17, he left school to work at the warehouse of Universal Pictures’ office in Oslo.

Throughout his extensive career, which involved film distribution and the development of the emerging video industry, Jacobsen is primarily known as a significant producer. Since his debut with Prima Veras saga om Olav den Hellige (“Prima Vera’s Saga about Olav the Holy”) in 1983, followed by Hard Asfalt (“Hard Asphalt”) (1986) and Veiviseren (“Pathfinder”) (1987), Jacobsen has produced over 40 titles spanning over four decades. In 1988, he established the Norwegian subsidiary of Svensk Filmindustri, SF Norge AS, which quickly became the country’s largest distribution company. In 1996, he shifted his focus entirely to film production. In 1997, Jacobsen created Norway’s first full-length animated film, Solan, Ludvig og Gurin med Reverompa (“Gurin with the Foxtail”) and has produced a total of four full-length animated films and over 50 animated TV episodes featuring Elias, den lille redningsskøyta (“Elias, the little rescue boat”), and Blekkulf, the former of which was nominated for an Emmy. He has also been a driving force in implementing CGI technology in Norwegian films, including the legendary Jakten på Nyresteinen (“The Hunt For The Kidney Stone”) (1986), and notably, last year’s Vikingulven (“Viking Wolf”) which made it to Netflix’s international top 10 list of most-watched non-English language films.

Jacobsen’s films have been nominated for both the Oscars and International Emmy Awards, and have won the Amanda, Kanonprisen, and Gullruten awards. He himself has been awarded the Honorary Amanda, the Cinema Directors’ Guild’s Gullstrimmelen, the Film & Kino’s Future Cinema Prize, and the Municipal Cinemas’ Honorary Aamot Statue. His production Max Manus (2008), is the biggest Norwegian box office success in modern times with 1.2 million tickets sold and the TV-series Kampen om Tungtvannet (“The Heavy Water War”) (2015) is the most-watched drama production in Norwegian TV history, averaging 1.8 million viewers per episode.

John M. Jacobsen has been appointed Commander of the Order of St. Olav for his contributions to Norwegian cinema.