The visuals for the trailers of ITFS, APD and FMX 2024 were created by a team of Animationsinstitut graduates who, after completing their studies in Ludwigsburg, founded the studio Mucks! Games. Their first game will be released in April 2024: “The Bear – A Story from the WORLD OF GRA” is a 40-minute interactive bedtime story, which you can try out at ITFS 2024 in the GameZone.
All three trailers for Stuttgart’s Animated Week 2024 are part of Clara Deitmar’s WORLD OF GRA. They were created by the same animators and are set in the same world with individual stories. This intellectual property (IP) was developed at the Animationsinstitut of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and has an overarching theme: growth.
In this interview, Clara Deitmar, Julius Dorsel and Luzie Kehle talk about their personal and artistic growth over the course of their studies and during the creation process, what inspired them, and why animation connects.
How did you come up with the idea for the trailers? What is the connecting theme? Is there an underlying message?
Julius: The trailers all come from the WORLD OF GRA, a story world with fish swimming in outer space, tiny planets, and small and large colourful creatures. They all have one problem: they keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The theme of the WORLD OF GRA is change and how we deal with it. The trailers also pick up on this. A lot is currently changing in the world, and that includes the animation scene. During Stuttgart Animated Week, we as animation creators exchange ideas, gain new experiences and make connections.
WORLD OF GRA is an intellectual property (IP) that you can continue to use in various fields. How important are your own IPs for your future career?
Clara: It’s always difficult to create something new. Basically, anything that is creative is always just a remix of our artistic and cultural influences. But I think it can still be original and unique if it feels authentic. In terms of visual and narrative style, I always came up with the WORLD OF GRA intuitively. So to me, this story world feels very personal and authentic. I hope that this feeling also resonates with others.
Luzie: The beauty of an IP is that it contains so many stories. When everything is connected, it almost feels as if the characters and stories just emerge on their own. You just have to choose which story you want to tell!
Could you briefly introduce your newly founded studio?
Julius: The three of us studied Interactive Media at Animationsinstitut together and were already developing games together at the time. That was so cool that we wanted to continue and bring our projects to the market. As Mucks! Games studio, we develop visually unique games where the story takes centre stage and which are more than just entertaining: They always have a social impact, i.e. a socially relevant topic that is close to our hearts. The next project is a feminist game and deals with topics that are particularly important to us as female game developers.
What is your connection to FMX, ITFS and APD and Stuttgart’s Animated Week in April?
Clara: Animated Week in Stuttgart is a big event for us each spring. Thanks to the close connection between Animationsinstitut and all three events, we have been able to gain very special experiences, such as providing personal assistance to international speakers at FMX or participating in the APD Talent Programme. This creates personal connections all over the world and a unique network also with the local players in the animation industry here in Baden-Württemberg. That’s a good career start for graduates.
The production of the trailers for all three events by students and/or alumni of Animationsinstitut has a long tradition, which you are now part of. What does that mean to you personally?
Julius: The selection of a project for these trailers is considered a “badge of honour” among the students. For us, it means above all that our story world is seen by both professionals and a broad public. This is incredibly valuable, as we want to continue to tell stories in this world!
Clara: Compared to previous trailers, ours are quite different. They are not technically elaborate and were not produced with stunning visual effects. The style is rather minimalist. This opens up creative possibilities for future student trailers and is also an appreciation of the Interactive Media study programme, which is now being featured for the first time with these trailers.
What is the connecting aspect of animation in your opinion?
Julius: Sure, animation connects! The simpler, the more abstract the character presentation, the more people can recognise themselves in the characters. A small colourful creature, an animated animal, a stick figure – it could be any one of us. Especially because animation appeals to emotions on a completely different level, affecting us directly.
What or who has influenced and inspired you?
Clara: As interactive media students, we are required to think format-open. That’s why we take inspiration from all kinds of things: films, books, animated films, music, but also games, art, and interactive installations. WORLD OF GRA was influenced by “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the animated films by Studio Ghibli, among others.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Luzie: We are releasing our first game as a studio in April. If you like the visual and narrative world of the trailers, you can experience a whole new story set in the same world called “The Bear”. At the same time, we are starting work on our next project, the feminist fun horror game “Frieda is Changing”. We have received prototype funding from MFG Baden-Württemberg for this and are very much looking forward to developing it.
What is your vision for the festival of the future?
Clara: Diversity! Not only in terms of events and visitors, but also in terms of different media. Interactive media, games and other exciting new formats bring animation, film, and interaction together and this is increasingly being recognised by the festivals.
“The Bear” will be released in April and can be tried out at the ITFS in the GameZone. Who is it for?
Julius: This interactive bedtime story is a tablet game for all ages. In five chapters, the bear and the little one take us on a poetic, endearing journey through the WORLD OF GRA. The game will be presented at the ITFS and the FMX and can be played on site. If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can also download it at any time during the festival week!
Julius Dorsel, Julius Dorsel, born in Aalen in 1994, completed his bachelor’s degree in media management at the University of Ilmenau in 2020. He completed his studies at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg with the production of several game projects. He produces games by combining his knowledge of software development and project management.
Clara Deitmar, born 1997 in Heidelberg, received her bachelor’s degree in Media and Information at University Offenburg in 2019. In 2023 she graduated from the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg with her diploma game “The Bear – A Story from the World of Gra”. During the diploma she also created the Intellectual Property (IP) WORLD OF GRA, meant to span multiple formats and target groups with its wholesome stories.
Luzie Kehle completed her training as a state-certified graphic designer in 2013 and went on to study communication design at the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg, specialising in visual storytelling. In 2017, she began her studies at the Animation Institute of the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, where she focussed on interactive storytelling and graduated with a diploma in interactive media.
Bianca Scali, born in Paris in 1998, is an animation film director who graduated from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in 2023 with her diploma film “It’s just a whole”. Photography, digital and traditional animation, paper, textures or analogue processes are some of the many media that Bianca Scali likes to mix in her films.