Maltese animator in Denmark makes directorial debut

earlyConceptArt_by_SilkeAgnethe Kähler
Early Concept Art by Silke Agnethe Kähler

Maltese-born Inez Kristina moved to Denmark to study character animation almost four years ago, which culminated in this opportunity to direct her first animated short film while still at school.

Cut It Out is an absurd surrealist character piece that follows Tara, an EOD technician (bomb defuser) who is guided by an authoritative voice to locate and defuse a bomb in a school. The bomb is unfamiliar to her, and despite her reservations, her supervisor leads her into a strange situation from which she needs to escape.

Early Concept Art by Inez Kristina
Early Concept Art by Inez Kristina

“I had been drawing all my life, but I first started taking art more seriously as a teenager, by exhibiting my illustrations at the Malta Comic Con and landing various types of freelancing gigs,” Inez told Newsbook.com.mt, “This project was inspired by experiencing frustration with how often I come across and observe a particular brand of uncomfortable dynamic between young persons entering the workforce and their superiors in their fields, especially since I and a lot of my friends are in that territory ourselves.”

Inez says that she wanted to try to abstract the essence of what this dynamic feels like and present it in a way that is both awkward but also humorous, in a strange way: “It features organic flesh piles, bodily fluids and a fetus, set in a vaguely Maltese-looking secondary school – so I’m also extremely curious to see what people have to say about it.”

She explained that they were a nine-person team behind this project, so everybody had a different role within the production.

“The biggest challenge with projects like these is being able to keep the whole team creatively on track, while also keeping within deadlines in order to move forward and not create bottlenecks. For this entire operation to run at all there is a lot of trust and communication that is involved between each person, as the team has to work very closely together,” she said.

Having to all of a sudden manage a team remotely was definitely a challenge for me

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles they had to face was being sent home due to Covid-19, right as they were hitting one of the most crucial parts of production – animation. Luckily for them, she says, the school was very supportive and helped us with the resources they needed to continue their work from home. They had opted to utilise Motion Capture technology, which allowed them to use a real life actress as a base for their animation before the pandemic hit, so they had a large pool of material they could use as a starting point.

Cut It Out Inez Kristina
Motion capture actress

“Having to all of a sudden manage a team remotely was definitely a challenge for me, as well as suddenly working way slower than we had anticipated due to having to work online via a VPN, which meant quite a few sleepless nights for all of us. I was blessed with working with such an amazing, hardworking and supportive group of people and so in the end, we managed to pull through despite the sticks in our wheel,” Inez said.

Cut It Out Inez Kristina

As for other projects, Inez has been working on a six-issue comic series called Mibdul – written by Teodor Reljic, and which will be published by Merlin Publishers – since 2017.

“That has taught me an infinite amount about dedication and perseverance with very ambitious projects. In many ways my path here has taken a lot of different turns and I would not have had it any other way. My main drive is being able to try my hand at a wide array of creative things since I love having variety in my creative output. I strive for freedom in my work as much as possible,” Inez states.

I am definitely going to continue experimenting with mediums and styles

Finally, Inez says that this film is important to her since it marks her directorial debut, and will hopefully serve as a stepping stone towards developing and directing more films.

“It was amazing being able to work closely with a strong creative and co operative team where I was able to bring out the weirdness I enjoy and really push my ideas far. I am definitely going to continue experimenting with mediums and styles, as well as get back into illustration again. One of the things I would really love to do would be to direct a music video, and a live action short – I’m excited to see what the years ahead bring along with them,” she concludes.

Cut It Out was created by Inez Kristina and her team: Isabelle Bernard Thulstrup, Jesper Andkjær Poulsgærd, Mia Golubovic Svensson, Anka Reczyńska, Dagmara Kaczmarek, Jacob Aggerholm Jørgensen, Silke Agnethe Kähler and Leon Fechner.

The film was produced at The Animation Workshop in Viborg Denmark and project distribution is by MIYU Distribution.

More information about Cut It Out may be found on Instagram. The film will be officially released online on the 16th February 2021.

Inez Kristina is a recipient of the Malta Arts Scholarship, financed by the Government of Malta.