Studio Mals' opening film for OFFF Festival 2024 is a humorous look at creative angst

Group Session sees a puppet called Geoff deal with the all-too-familiar woes of being a creative in a wry and catchy way.

Every year, the best and brightest in the creative industry descend on Barcelona for OFFF Festival, "the largest showcase and window of contemporary visual creativity and design". Don't worry if you couldn't make it this year, though, as Studio Mals and Setreset Films have recently shared one of its highlights.

Specially made for the festival's opening, Group Session is a short film that will resonate with creatives both at the event and around the world. Set in an AA-style meeting, it follows a puppet as he sits down with the various creative influences pulling him in various directions at once. Check it out below:

"Set in a tactile world, this film introduces Geoff, a young and creative individual struggling with his feelings," adds Studio Mals. "Is there something wrong with him? In a group session with his favourite tools – an all-star cast of peculiar puppets – and through a ridiculously catchy song, he finally discovers what has been going on all this time…"

Does this look familiar? As creatives, we can relate to wrestling with our creative outlook. Insomnia, self-doubt, self-diagnosed ADHD, and a notes app overloaded with ideas all make an appearance, not to mention a clever nod to Bohemian Rhapsody.

"The film is written, directed and produced by Studio Mals & Setreset Films," adds Studio Mals. "Two Dutch design studios of passionate creators and filmmakers dedicated to pushing the boundaries of handcrafted storytelling. The film shows puppetry refreshingly and playfully, with meticulous attention to detail. The story revolves around a current theme and invites you to spark your own creativity."

It's easy to get swept up in the handmade charm of Group Session, not to mention its toe-tapping musical number, but there's an important and reassuring message lurking beneath the surface. Yes, creative doubts are a serious issue, but they're also not unique to any one artist, illustrator or designer.

In fact, as the film goes on to say, these feelings are what bind the creative community together. We're all, to an extent, self-therapist our way through the next project while juggling ideas for side hustles. While these thoughts do need to be kept in check and addressed where necessary, they also speak to a wider theme of curiosity.

It's curiosity that ties together the film and the audiences at OFFF Festival and beyond. Curiosity is a sign that you're still creative, coming up with ideas, and capable of making great things. It's just that sometimes, this curiosity can manifest itself in anxious ways, as happened with poor Geoff and his intervention of tools.

Fortunately, though, the Group Session ended with a resolution. Geoff realises that curiosity is nothing to be scared of, and upon doing so, the session comes to an end. The notepad, pencil, and eraser he had called to talk to have disappeared, and he leaves with a sense of clarity and an urge to create. Hopefully, viewers will, too.

Are you curious to see how the film was made? Watch the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at how the Group Session was made. In the meantime, we will hum the curious song to ourselves all day.


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