Learn to trust your gut more in an emotive animation from Hannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian

It’s time to reconnect with your intuition, with help from a new animation produced by Strange Beast and made with the BFI Short Animation Fund grant.

28 January 2022


You know that gut-wrenching feeling when you know something is off? Or that exciting turn in your stomach when you’re about to embark on a new journey? Or that strange, indescribable feeling when you just simply know? These are the instinctive emotions explored in a new animation titled Your Mountain is Waiting, directed by Hannah Jacobs and written by Harriet Gillian. “The theme of intuition and trusting your gut was a topic that Harry and I had both been reflecting on when we decided to make the film,” says Hannah. Having met six months prior after receiving one of the BFI Short Animation Fund grants, the pair shared stories of life experiences over tea during their first interaction together. “I think we can perhaps all relate to times in our life when we’ve stopped listening to ourselves, or have found it harder to trust our instincts, and it certainly felt like a subject matter that was meaningful to both Harry and I,” she adds.

Your Mountain is Waiting follows a protagonist named Martha, who has stopped listening to her intuition and her life begins to suffer. After a strange encounter, she starts to reassess and begins her journey of self-discovery. The film is constructed from a textural and flat illustrative style, where colour plays a central role in determining the atmosphere and events; moody blues depict the sadder parts, while bright and happy yellows or greens illustrate the more positive. It’s very much in line with Hannah’s illustrative style, “using lots of luscious textures and colour”, as she puts it. Working with a flexible brief to push the illustrative approach, Hannah was keen to lean into her style fully. “From a story point of view,” Harriet adds, “Hannah’s illustration and design style is key to translating a lot of the intangible aspects of the film. Her work is naturally loaded with emotion and depth. I have no idea how she does it but her aesthetic gives scenes like the ‘snow world’ a whole other level of compassion and empathy.”

GalleryHannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian: Your Mountain is Waiting, produced by Strange Beast (Copyright © Hannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian, 2022)

The creators were inspired by a handful of films and television series, including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Labyrinth, Honey I shrunk the Kids and Twin Peaks, plus the imagery from “mad places” like Yosemite and the Big Wave in Arizona. They’re both also obsessed with David Attenborough and the natural world, and this too comes across in Your Mountain is Waiting. A wide pot of references in tow, the duo began to work together harmoniously and organically. “She just totally got it,” says Hannah, speaking about the moment she chucked some “very vague” thoughts at Harriet. “She ran with it and every few days came back to me with this epic and beautifully crafted script. It really was a visual banquet and it made my job very easy in terms of sketching things out and developing the world visually.” Devised entirely out of 2D cel animation with a team of animators, the completed project proves just how powerful the art of collaboration can be.

Overall, the pair hope that their audience will feel something from watching the animation. But most importantly, they hope you’ll rethink your intuition and learn to trust it a little more – to climb that mountain or get out into the unknown. “It’s fairly ironic that one of the messages of the film is to get outdoors in order to reconnect with your intuition, when we’ve been literally stuck indoors over the past two years,” says Harriet. “We’ve probably all been questioning our lives and reassessing things in them too, so I hope the film can help remind us that we can change things if we need to. It’s all in our hands – or up to individual mountains. There’s joy in breaking out and doing something new, irrational (but safe!) and freeing.”

GalleryHannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian: Your Mountain is Waiting, produced by Strange Beast (Copyright © Hannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian, 2022)

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Hannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian: Your Mountain is Waiting, produced by Strange Beast (Copyright © Hannah Jacobs and Harriet Gillian, 2022)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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