The Strange Happening [film process]

The idea for ‘The Strange Happening‘ came out of a chance encounter with a book entitled ‘Out of Africa‘. I received this book free with a newspaper a long time ago. Opening the book one evening I flicked to the section ‘The Immigrant’s Notebook‘ and read the subsection ‘A Strange Happening‘. The short text described a chance encounter with a vast number of exhausted wild dogs in the plains of Africa strolling in front of two stunted onlookers.

That was it. There was not a grand story arch. No romance or violence. A simple but highly unusual encounter. An intervention into the landscape and the lives of others.

Reading ‘Animated Storytelling: Simple Steps for Creating Animation and Motion Graphics‘ I decided to learn methods in structuring narrative (especially unusual stories). I found the steps helpful because once I had finished with one step I could move productively onto the next which gave me confidence that the project was progressing.

My eventual story line (elevator pitch) became this:

“The Strange Happening” [working title] is an adventurous film with three interconnected stories about the past, present and future of the sunken glass city, with an underlying idea about turning a negative into a positive.

Design process

The idea of a sunken glass city sparked a lot of creative responses in my head, but I tried to expand my thinking to metaphoric responses and not solely literal interpretations. It’s been fruitful speaking and collaborating with a friend Peter whose advice has helped to push the film process forward.

Early story boarding and research wall

Concept art

Motion tests



Saturday 11th March 2017

Other links:

Fast Film – Virgil Widrich

Great for movie analysis including the historic contextualisation with links to docs from other point of views on the filmmaking process from those who played roles other than the director.

not seen yet…




BBC Documentary Commissioning

Example of a high standard for BBC 2/3 []

Some advice on pitching: 2 or 3 ideas are fine. Conveying a passion for the story you wish to tell is more important that if the pitch is a powerpoint or document format. ‘Back one horse’ don’t send pitch to all the commissioning editors [if one turns it down the others will know about it in their meetings]. Send to one Editor, if they say ‘no’ then back off. Can also send ideas in an email to Editors based on an article in the paper that you might think is a story worth telling. They can respond before you go into making a treatment whether or not its something they are interested in broadcasting.

Balloon II





Paolo Uccello – Battle of San Romano 1450? (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

I believe this painting is one of three which are separately held at different museums in Europe. The National Gallery has one as do the Louvre and Uffizi. I was aware of this work by reading Gombrich’s ‘The Story of Art’.