Year 1

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How To Make A Seven Minute Film In Just Eight Years

It was suggested to me during the making of The Passenger that I should document the story of its conception.  But then what would I do with the material... release it as a book?  DVD insert?  Custom printed toilet paper?  It all seemed a bit expensive and I couldn't be sure anyone would even care, so, after considering the toilet paper idea some more, I've decided to just dump it on the internet and be done with it.

Here then are my warts-and-all mad ramblings about The Passenger's protracted journey from bedroom to big screen.  May you glean some wisdom from my folly.

Year 1  
North Caulfield, 1998-99

Last century, when I started making The Passenger, all I wanted was a centerpiece for my showreel. I had been working in computer games for three and a half years, but my real ambition was to work in film. A visit to Siggraph in 1998 provided the motivation to start work on the project, and the bus commute to and from the convention supplied the theme. My objective was to create a quirky, moody, spooky, action packed overblown animation spectacular that might get me a nice job.

With no story ideas in mind other than "some weird stuff happens on a bus", I filled in time by starting on the main character.  To hurry things along a bit, I plagiarised some of my own work from a concept for an animated 2D streetwear commercial a few years earlier.  I started reworking the character design, then sculpted a small maquette.

Character Design
Character design revisions

The maquette was about 20cm tall and
was made from Klean Klay if I remember correctly.  I realised too late that the legs of the underlying metal armature were too short, but since that would be easy to fix on the digital model I didn't bother to finish them.

The maquette was mainly an excuse to play with some clay, but was also meant to be used as a template for 3D modelling - which turned out to be quite unnecessary due to the relatively simplistic geometry of the character.
 I began modelling the CG version in Lightwave 3D 5 on my Pentium 133, which had been serving me since the stone age.  I created a new directory for the project, and bereft of any immediate ideas for a title, I called it "Stinky".

Weeks passed and I was still racking my brains for a story. I started on the bus. I bought a minidisc walkman and a microphone, and began running around collecting sounds.

Concept sketch
Some months later, I finally came up with an appealing narrative scenario - all it needed was a start and an ending. Things are so fragile at these early stages that even lukewarm feedback could easily derail the entire project, so I was careful to keep any details quiet until I was too far down the track to go back.

Useless Information
Press Kit