Directed by Hannah Jacobs and written by Harriet Gillian, Your Mountain is Waiting tells the story of a woman named Martha. Made with hand-illustrated animations and painterly textures, the short film follows Martha as she stops listening to her hunches and watches her life unfold as a result.
Until a strange encounter occurs that forces Martha to see her life a little differently. Can she embrace what seems irrational as she embarks on a surreal journey of self-discovery? And can she learn to trust her instincts again? You’ll have to watch You Mountain is Waiting below to find out.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And Your Mountain is Waiting owes its creation to the BFI Short Form Animation Fund. This fund supported 15 grantees, with the application process taking several months of work and waiting. Fortunately, Hannah and her team made it through the shortlist and eventually an interview.
She tells Creative Boom: “I prepared a treatment with my fantastic friend Harriet Gillian who wrote the script and was the main animator of the film. She had the task of writing the script for a five-minute film in Three weeks flat!We applied with the support of my production company Strange Beast who helped us set up our treatment which included an initial script and lots of initial design explorations.
“We found out in March 2020 that we had been selected for funding, which was incredibly exciting. We were both thrilled to have this rare and fantastic opportunity ahead of us.”
Having worked with Harriet on other projects in the past, Hannah felt more than capable of leaving the duty of leading the animation team in her able hands. “Harriet and I have always had this natural, instinctive way of working together, and she has this innate understanding of how my characters move and how best to bring my designs to life,” she reveals.
And unlike commercial projects, Hannah felt no pressure to alter her style to suit a particular brief. This resulted in character designs and an overall aesthetic that seemed true to his illustration style. Only now has he come to life.
“That moment when an animator sends you something emotional never loses its magic for me, no matter how many projects I’m working on,” she says. “It’s such an amazing process, and I’m really impressed with the people I work with.”
The achievement of everyone involved is all the more impressive considering that the animation was done remotely at the height of the pandemic. Animation direction took place over Zoom and Slack, which slowed down the process and made constructive criticism difficult.
“With animation, you often want to be physically able to show animators a gesture or motion, or have them quickly walk through a motion so you can offer feedback,” Hannah adds. “So it was definitely a challenge and something to adapt to.”
And due to the daily stress of the pandemic, the morale of the team has been put to the test. “Working on the same project for more than a year is hard work and quite mentally draining. Not having peers to bounce ideas off of or solve a problem was something I found difficult as well.
“I feel like we found ways around that by having daily check-ins every morning with the team and our producer Zoe Muslim. It helped create a sense of daily interaction and not having felt like we were working in complete isolation. I think it probably sharpened my directing skills as well and being more organized. It forced me to be very clear and articulate when directing a shot or that I give comments.”
However, all the hard work was worth it, because watching the seed of an idea grow and change over two years was Hannah’s favorite part of the project. “For me, collaborating is really the best feeling, and I get so much out of it,” she reveals.
“I have learned so much from Harriet, the animators and the BFI team along the way. This is a very rare and special opportunity to work on such a personal project over such a long period of time, especially coming from a experience in commercial animation. I am so proud of our whole team and what we have achieved together.
Inspired to create your own animation? Find out how the BFI Short Form Animation Fund can help you by reading more details on his site.