This is an interview – over Messenger - with Klara Svensson. A conversation about producing TV, starting up and being a lifezilla.

Status: interviewing

Name: Anna Thanner

Work: Copywriter at Oh My

Status: getting interviewed

Name: Klara Svensson

Lives: Stockholm

Born: Visby

Age: 32

Work: TV producer at Nexico, previously at SVT

Podcast: ”Trettio Plus Trevar”

Instagram: @klaras

Saturday 10:34

Hi Klara!

Hey

You ready to do this?

Absolutely, just need to find my charger. The five-year-old used up all the juice.

Great! What are your surroundings? Are you at home?

Yes! I’m in my bed. It’s Saturday after all!

10:35

Perfect. So am I.

That’s a good balance between the overly ambitious in working on a Saturday and the somewhat unprofessional of being in bed.

Haha, yeah, I do work quite a lot from bed though. Chugging coffee, answering emails.

I think the five-year-old has messed up the ”i” on the computer so I’ll go back to using the phone before I go nuts.

Have to pound the i. Damn Netflix.

So we have this idea for this magazine to adapt the form to the content. And since I find you funny and clever in writing I thought it would be fun to do this interview through chat. The whole thing might be a bit pretentious, but it feels fun so let’s just give it a go.

10:36

No, I think it sounds fun and different!

I love pretentious. I live with a Creative Director. He’s the biggest little pretto!

They’re so sweet, the advertisers.

Artists.

“Artists”.

haha!

This is bound to get me poop in the mail.

You realise you’re dissing me at the same time, right?

10:37

I’d say it’s well known that advertising and TV are antagonists. We need each other. We need to hate each other.

I think bickering is cute, if it’s done with love. I have total respect for my man and his industry. I look up to him, he’s a pro!

yeah, nah, agreed.

(I’m only writing this so he won’t send me poop)

Can you tell me briefly what you do at work?

10:38

I work as a TV developer at Nexiko and develop formats for the big channels and services. Everything from culture to quite light entertainment and some documentary stuff etc. It’s real fun work! But right now I’m on parental leave with my three-month-old baby.

You kind of get an opportunity to dive down in all kinds of areas and learn new stuff about everything. It makes me really good at quiz games at least.

that sounds fun!

So how does one develop a TV-show then?

Yes, it’s kind of a childhood dream.

Well, there’s probably as many answers to that questions as there are TV-shows. Almost. The ideaphase happens in all kinds of ways, always. By meeting people and characters, by reading the news, over a glass of wine with someone at a bar.

And pure brainstorms of course.

Of course, there are different ways to generate ideas, but the ones I think turn out the best are when they’re born from a character or an existing behaviour/phenomena.

I guess you’ve worked so long in the TV industry that you know exactly if an idea ”has it” or not?

10:39

No not always! And 99% of my ideas are shit. Nonsense. But they can be married to other ideas and turn into something good.

Then you might need help selling that idea, because if you can’t sell it to practically anyone - you have to reconsider if it’s A. Good enough and B. How you can sell it differently.

Developing TV and ads are very alike in that way. It’s a lot of selling and presenting a vision. Every pitch is like a play.

But I often use my gut feeling. And I can really get hooked on an idea. And then I won’t let it go. I just run with it.

10:40

Are you a good runner? You win the race?

I think I’m considered a pretty good runner, good stamina, tough sob

I stand up for myself if I’m on to something. But I’m not naive, I know when an idea needs more time in the oven.

Although I gotta say that I kind of love the acting of it all the most. I love to pitch ideas. Get people behind me. Ignite something. I could easily just work with that.

10:41

do you often get personally/privately involved in your professional ideas?

Sorry, baby’s crying in the background, I gotta go do stuff.

of course, no worries

10:42

10:43

10:44

There, my boyfriend’s back.

Yes! I’ll try and answer

I always get personally invested. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t find this as much fun. If I’m not into an idea when I’m selling it, I don’t think I would sell it particularly well. I have to find something about it that really speaks to me, that makes me believe in it. And that’s possible with most ideas I think. If they’re done. Then you probably shouldn’t be too emotional during a pitch, but showing emotions and faith is good. In my opinion.

10:46

I can talk about ideas forever, but the theme for this magazine is starting up - I’ll try to stay on topic

haha, yeah

Besides your work starting up TV-shows you have a podcast. And have had a blog. I’m guessing you’re the type of person who likes starting up?

10:47

Yes, I did a personality test at SVT and the result told me I was an ultra diplomat (not really), starter-upper and controller. So I can also have a controller role where I grind out the details in a project. Ask the tough questions and get it on an even keel. On the other hand, I’m not much of an administrator. I would not enjoy doing the 22nd season of ”Dancing with the stars”. UNLESS I decided to re-make the show somehow.

Yes! So you simply have to surround yourself with people who take care of the things you’ve started?

10:48

Like, people who administer are my idols. They do the real hard work. Anyone can start up, but not all can administer.

But I do get a kick out of starting up, yes, I feel like a combustion engine at times. With the good and the bad that come with it.

You go head first into a project with high energy. Give it all you’ve got. And left is a wrung out dish cloth.

Yes, that must be draining. But are you a bit restless so the energy quickly comes back again and you’re ready to dive into the next project?

I wouldn’t say I’m restless really, that’s the weird thing. I’ve just found what I’m good at. I think it’s fun to engage and inspire, build from scratch. I just don’t get tired of it, it’s just that I’m not so good with parts that come after. The administration and longterm relationship.

10:50

yeah, that could just be my upstart-people prejudice talking – that they are who they are because they also get bored real quick too. Want to move on.

Yes, I think it’s quite common for people to see starters like that. And I’d be happy to change that if I could. I think a lot of people just don’t feel needed enough once the project evens out - they choose to go on to the next thing instead of being sat in a corner by their little desk with their little post-its.

exactly!

And starters/controllers aren’t needed in the same way once a project is up and running. People need to feel needed!

And it’s also where I am in my career right now and what I know. Those things change so who knows. In a couple of years I might be at the IRS filing documents.

10:51

When did that dawn on you, what you’re good at in your career?

I didn’t figure it out up until two-three years ago. That I was trying to do too much. Do good. It really drained me. When I tried to project manage (which I had to do sometimes as an executive producer at SVT) my happiness and pep suffered. I ended up uninspired and eventually a bit angry. Almost hit the wall for a while when I was going through a rough separation and had job assignments that made me want to shoot myself.

And that’s when I quit. From a steady job at Swedish Public Broadcasting. People thought I was crazy, but looking back it was the best thing I’ve done for myself and SVT. We’re all doing fine now!

so typical it takes a bunch of crap before you reach clarity

but that’s a good thing too – this cliché about light at the end of tunnels.

Indeed, and I’m not afraid of change. I’ve taken the leap a bunch of times.

You have, as you mentioned, worked for public service and at a production agency – how do the projects differ?

If we compare developing TV and project starts between production companies and SVT, SVT is a lot more cautious. Things take more time. Everything has to be done correctly and thoroughly. And that’s a good thing, but it can be a bit unwieldy. There are policies about policies and I guarantee you that every project manager breaks a few of those on a daily basis, otherwise there would be no shows on SVT.

that is pretty much what I would have guessed you would say

10:53

SVT is at the frontier in a lot of areas, but they’re still a big company based on old traditions etc. At the same time, I have tremendous respect for Public Service and I really enjoyed my time there. Loved my department and by bosses!

The collected experiences from working with both public service and smaller production companies feel like it would give you a lot of meat on the bones.

But this thing that you do – that you like to engage people and build from scratch - does that reflect your overall personality?

Are you the type that initiates dinners and travel with friends, and get the idea of starting different personal projects too?

10:54

Oh yes, I often end up in similar situations in my personal life. And I do think it’s fun and do feel a bit proud when people want to bounce ideas off me.

I’ve heard I’m a good motivator and sometimes I miss that. I used to have staff responsibility, now I have to do my coaching in my spare time. And I’m happy to do it.

Love to plan parties…

My problem is that I always aim a bit high when it comes to personal events. It’s theme this, theme that, slow cooks or burgers and zinfandel nights.

I’m like a lifezilla.

haha, so you feel the pressure on your personal projects too?

Nah, I’m pretty chill. I hate pressure. I’m a big bon vivant though. I get pretty pissed when my cooking’s gross. But only at myself. My boyfriend’s pretty sick of me dwelling over my cooking.

10:56

But every party can be saved by booze and dancing. And those who stand in a corner acting difficult can go home for all I care.

I agree

Speaking of personal projects, you are in the middle of starting up a new human being. Maybe that is the upstart of upstarts, starting someone’s life up?

Yes, my God, the anxiety! Project Baby!

That’s a guaranteed failure. And it’s my worst event: administration. The upstart is kind of over so to speak. That was on a cozy night in October last year… hehe

haha!

10:57

But I have the best parents that I can take cues from and who are by my side helping out. So I just hope to be a bit like them. That would be good enough. I’m doing my bestz.

Minus z

Nice. But besides project Baby, is there anything you’re extra excited to start up right now?

Right now I’m really excited to be hanging out with my little Sam and his older sister Betty. And to keep the podcast going. We’ve gotten such nice feedback. That’s really all I can manage at the moment, and even then I’m still standing on Stockholm Central every now and then contemplating to run away to Gothenburg.

Then I play tennis once a week with coach Jonas Lundqvist and that hour is all mine. Where I can be the combustion engine again.

That sounds really nice and fun. All of it. And that was all the questions that I had.

10:58

Or, no, not true. But I feel we’ve been chatting away and we should probably round it off right here.

OK, absolutely. Good note to go out on.

This was fun!

Yes! This was fun.

Have a great weekend!

You too!

10:59

Klara is offline.

Anna is offline.

Text: Anna Thanner

Layout: Lucas Löf

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