Michael Barwise

Bio

I’m Online Producer / Director here at MakeMatic and I love taking an initial concept through to finished video, helping to put it all together. Animation is slow and steady. It’s more of a 9-to-5 approach to filmmaking, as opposed to all action, and I enjoy working with the team here at MakeMatic to get the job done.

I was saintly as a kid. [Laughs – but it’s true. Michael is the definition of conscientiousness.] I worked hard and was good in school but all I really wanted to do was draw comic books. I loved Stan Lee’s Daredevil and graphic novels like Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and the artwork of Tim Sale.

I loved film too, so I studied Moving Image Arts in school, which was the best of both worlds. I had a knack for it. I’m still a confident drawer and I get to do that at MakeMatic when I sketch out the storyboards and animatics, the initial visual ideas that our animators work from.

Today, film is my main interest. I’ve watched Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner countless times, and Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. What I really love about those films are the atmospherics. I like a lot of European cinema and directors who play with form.

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours Red trilogy and Werner Herzog’s documentaries are particular favourites. For me, there is no difference between art house film and narrative cinema and that comes across in my shorts, which I’m also passionate about.

When I was 17, I took part in the Spirit of Enniskillen youth program. It was more than an exchange program – it was about facilitating conversations between young people from divided countries. It culminated in a two-week residential in Gothenburg, Sweden, and it gave me a lot of self-awareness and confidence at a young age.

I attended the University of Creative Arts (UCA) in Farnham and studied Film Production. The course was 80% practical and 20% theory and I loved that. It was a small university. I met lots of good people and really lucked out with my teacher, Simon Aeppli, who was enthusiastic and pushed us to be creative.

A short film I made at UCA when I was 21, titled Wall, won Best Short at the Aesthetica Film Festival in York. It was about the Peace Walls in Belfast, which traditionally separate Catholic and Protestant communities, and that early success backed up what I wanted to do professionally.

After university, I came back to Derry. It was 2013, the UK City of Culture year, and there were lots of opportunities for filmmakers. Along with my brother, I produced a series of shorts by European directors set in Derry and I learned a lot from that project.

I worked then as assistant editor on A City Dreaming, a documentary written by the late BBC presenter Gerry Anderson. It’s probably the best thing I’ve worked on. It was based on memoir, with lots of archive footage running throughout, and my job was sourcing that footage. I watch through a lot of B roll at MakeMatic and I love it.

I took my first steps into professional animation with Dog Ears as trainee production coordinator on season one of the children’s television series Puffin Rock, which was made for Nick Jr and RTE and sold to Netflix, and spent the next year making music videos before moving to 16 South, working on animated series like Sesame Tree and Lily’s Driftwood Bay.

Position

Online Producer / Director