Interview with director/animator Mads Johan Øgaard (I AM DYSLEXIC)

Mads Johan Øgaard’s short film “I AM DYSLEXIC” was the winner of Best Film at the December 2016 Animation Short Film Festival.

Perhaps one of the best films to show at the festival in 2016. A film that received great acclaim from the audience

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mads Johan Øgaard: I realized that not many talk about learning differences such as dyslexia. I wanted to share my story, I learned how to turn my struggles into an advantage, and I believed that my views and story could potentially help others. Wanted to show what it feels like being dyslexic in today’s society.

As I often say: I want to help my 10 year old self and give him the support he should have received.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

MJØ: I had the idea in my head for a long time! But from when I really started to develop the idea at the end of second year of my animation bachelors,it took one year and 3 months to finish it.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?


MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

MJØ: Actually writing the script, I almost didn’t make the film due to struggling so much with the script, because of my dyslexic struggles which caused me great anxiety and stress.

I knew what I wanted, I just wasn’t able to get it out and down on the paper.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

MJØ: I cried, seeing the audience express that they can relate to the feelings that I wanted to show, its truly truly amazing and very emotional for me… thank you so much! I am so proud and grateful!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Film:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

MJØ: Continuing from point 1 – In the beginning the film was a very close addoption of my life dealing with dyslexia, in animated form with some sequences where the boy where climbing the mountain.

It evolved away from being about my life and more and more about the struggles and emotions that I felt through school, one of my biggest struggles as a kid, was homework. I spent 6 hours or more after school every day fighting homework. So the mountain of books was a huge part from the very beginning.

I always liked the film Cast Away with Tom Hanks, and it was a huge inspiration for plot, the main character and the world.

It is important to note that without my crew the film would never been this good!

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

MJØ: Hehe, ever since I was a kid I was a huge Disney fan, so the Disney classics. I know I’ve worn out a few VHS tapes.
Ranging from the shorts especially the Donald Duck ones to the feature films.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

MJØ: Because of I AM DYSLEXIC, I decided to do a Master in special educational needs, which I currently are doing at Exeter University in England.

I also recently done illustrations for a information book about dyslexia for children, teens, in collaboration with Dyslexia Norway and The book launch will be in Eldorado book store, Oslo, the 09 of March.

And I am really considering starting a youtube channel, talking about learning differences. I AM DYSLEXIC have showed me how much I can share with the world, and receiving several emails everyday from people who have seen the film only further motivates me, so lets what the future brings! 😀

I AM DYSLEXIC have opened many opportunities for me! And for that I am truly grateful for.

If you are interested my art and what I do, please consider following me :

Mads Johan Øgaard:
Instagram: madsjohanogaard


Twitter: @MadsJohanOgaard



Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

1 comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: