Having just graduated from The Animation Workshop – an animation-focused university based in Denmark – with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Character Animation, Michelle Gruppetta says she has acquired an initiation into the world of animation from one of the top animation schools in the world.

Speaking to Times of Malta on her experience, Gruppetta described how, during her degree, she focused on giving life to characters and stories through a variety of film-making techniques, specialising in storyboarding, editing and directing.

“Each year of the course focused on a different animation technique: first year revolved around traditional hand-drawn animation, both on paper and digitally; second year concentrated on 3D computer generated animation and learning the software surrounding that; and finally, third year gave me an opportunity to focus on a specific skill set in the context of creating a graduation film with a team of fellow students.

“The school also provided highly qualified teachers from all around the world, from all facets of the industry,” said Gruppetta.

In her final year, she worked on the 2D graduation film RIOT5, a pitch trailer for a TV series that tells the story of the RIOT5 roller derby team and their face off against their heated rivals in a decisive match.

I focus my work, both in film and illustration, on emotional storytelling

“I wore many caps on the production, acting as a writer, storyboard artist, editor, animator and clean-up lead during the nine-month stint, working with a team of 10 people,” she recounted.

Michelle GruppettaMichelle Gruppetta

Across her studies, Gruppetta had the opportunity to direct two short animated films, Season Rivalry and All up in Your Business, both of which can be found on Vimeo. She said that this experience helped her decide that she wanted to focus her future career on developing and directing her own animated films.

After finishing her three-year education, Gruppetta moved onto a four-month internship at a Belgian studio, Ouros, where she created the storyboard for their future feature film Hygge and its spin-off TV series. Part of her internship also included being mentored to help develop her own short film, Ouroboros.

“Ouroboros is a 2D, 10-minute short film which will be aimed at young adults. It tackles the topic of the effects of parental favouritism on sibling dynamics, and how pervasive it is even into adulthood,” she described.

Gruppetta will start a three-month residency, beginning in February, where she will write the script for her film with the help of supervisors from the Open Workshop, an artist residency that allows independent artists to work on and develop their personal projects across different media.

“I focus my work, both in film and illustration, on emotional storytelling surrounding women’s narratives, especially through the use of colour, texture and sometimes unsettling imagery. I hope to focus my future film-making endeavours on Maltese and Maltese migrants’ narratives and hope to bring our local problems and passions to the international stage.

Michelle Gruppetta is a recipient of the Malta Arts Scholarship, financed by the Government of Malta.

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