August 2023

Meet ILBES people - Maria Filonets, Lead 3D Animator

We present to you Maria Filonets, our experienced and lively Lead 3D Animator…

Maria Filonets is known among her colleagues as Masha, the Lead 3D Animator, but also as Masha – a witty girl who looks like a character from a children’s book. Her appearance shows so much – creativity, individuality, young spirit, and yet all the artistic wisdom she’s collected throughout her education and career. 

With a degree in animation direction, Masha quickly found herself drawn to the art of animating, and she immediately fell in love with creating captivating content for children.  

In her interview she also explains where she looks for inspiration, how she creates the illusion of life on the screen, and what her advice is for beginner animators. 

Enjoy Masha’s story. 

Q&A with Maria Filonets 


Could you tell us something about your education and the first steps you made in the world of animation? 

M: I graduated from the University of Cinematography in Russia, specializing in animated film direction. However, I worked as a director for only a brief period; somehow, I was more fascinated by creating animation myself.  

At the time I was finishing school and had to decide what to do next, my dad told me that there is such job as "creating cartoons". It sounded like a joke to me, but he actually found an animation teacher for me. I drew a "bouncing ball" and fell in love with animation. Nothing else interested me as much as animation from that moment on. Well, except for dresses. Dresses interest me about the same way. And dolls. 

How did you hear about ILBE Studios and why did you decide to work there? 

M: I've never worked in an international studio. When I moved to Serbia, I thought it was a great chance to work with completely different people, experience different ways of working, according to a different pipeline. I was generally keen on learning new things and meeting new people. I read several articles about animation in Serbia and ILBE Studios caught my attention. I love animation for children more than animation for adult audiences. So, when I heard about the series about the silly little birds, I knew it would suit me very well. 

What does your workday look like? What are the projects you work on? Which programs and tools do you use?  

M: I currently work on the Puffins Impossible series. At the start of my workday, I review for inspiration the beautiful animated scenes from Disney, Pixar or other studios. Then I carefully watch the animatic for the Puffins Impossible because I don’t want to miss anything important. I open the 3D animation program - Autodesk Maya, import the location, put the camera there, put the characters in. The set up looks like in a real movie (or in a real children's playroom). Then I start telling the story with the help of poses and facial expressions. The most difficult part of the job is to create the illusion of life and ensure that the characters are not just moving on the screen, but moving like living beings! They live there!  

Sometimes, when I have to find the best poses for the scene, I create thumbnails (very small and rough drawings that you can draw super quickly). 

In some situations, I also play a scene in front of the mirror and watch how my arm, leg or head works. I am not a fan of video references but sometimes they can really help the animators. 

 What type of projects do you enjoy the most?

M: I like crazy funny projects for kids. 

How would you describe your team? 

M: As kind and supportive above everything. 

What do you consider to be the greatest value of our studio? 

M:The opportunity to work on an international project in a team of professionals who share their knowledge and tend to become better in their job everyday. 

What does it take to become a successful animation artist?  

M: When I become one, I will tell you what it takes (smile). But I think it is a lot of hard work and some crazy courage and luck

Which artists and films inspire you the most?

M: It would probably be an endless list. I love animated films from all over the world and from different eras. I have one for every type of mood. I love classic Disney, new Pixar productions, Japanese anime, original arthouse films by European authors, old Soviet works. I love dramatic adult films and silly series about slipping on a banana peel. I like how animation grows and changes, endless in its directions and styles. 

What is your favorite animated movie?   

M: To prove my various preferences, I am sharing a short list of the films that first came to my mind: 

“Only Yesterday” Isao Takahata 

“Ratatouille” Brad Bird 

“Trolls” Mike Mitchell 

“The Story of a Crime” Fedor Khitruk 

“Peppa Pig” Mark Beiker 

“Bluey” Joe Brumm 

“Tom and Jerry” William Hanna, Joseph Barbera 

“Ernest and Selestina” Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner 

“Cinderella” Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi 

“The Rabbi's Cat” Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux 

Which Puffins Impossible character are you?  

M: I think it is Tac. I like characters with glasses. Usually they are smart. Did I mention that I also wear glasses? 

What superpower would you like to have and why?    

M: I would like to know how to fly. It is fun and you can see so many beautiful places in a short run.  

Could you tell us something about your other hobbies and interests?  

M: I draw. I like to knit. I love ballet. But most of all, I am passionate about the history of Slavic costumes, household items and traditions. It's incredibly interesting here in Serbia because a lot of antiquities have been preserved. I notice so many similarities between the Serbian and Russian culture, and so many differences at the same time. 

Would you like to give a message to the young animation artists?  

Be persistent and brave. But be patient. Drop by drop the sea is drained. Practice more. If you have no idea what to draw, what to do - just copy the geniuses. This is a good practice. 

Wish you good luck <3 



As a creative animation studio, our main goal is to create great stories for the young and young at heart, and we know that it wouldn’t be possible without our #ILBES Team. We invite you to browse through the news section and read more stories of our incredible people. Also, stay tuned for the next #MeetILBESPeople interview. 

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