A Gift from the Sea
Lupus Films’ producer Ruth Fielding and director Robin Shaw discuss the development of The Storm Whale.
There’s always great excitement when the team at London-based Lupus Films embarks on a new project. The award-winning studio behind such beloved 2D-animated projects as The Snowman and The Snowdog, The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Ethel & Ernest and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is now working on a threepart adaptation of Benji Davies’ acclaimed books, The Storm Whale, The Storm Whale in Winter and Grandma Bird. The trilogy is about a young boy called Noi and his friendship with a small whale. The project will be directed by Robin Shaw, who also helmed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. He says he was immediately struck by how perfect the book was for a film adaptation after seeing the first book in the series. “There is so much emotion and beauty captured in what on the surface seems like a simple story that I knew it was something I wanted to do,” he explains. “I could almost see the film being played out as I turned the pages. This feeling has just grown and grown with the release of the second and third books. Shaw says he loves the vulnerability of Noi, the central character, and his relationship with first his dad and then his grandma. “We see him grow, learn to love and to be loved, and all through finding a young whale stranded on the beach,” he notes. “You really care about him. Adults will want to look after him and children will empathize with him. As well as this, Benji Davies’ illustrations are stunningly beautiful. He has a rare gift for effortlessly capturing light and a sense of scale and place that appeals to me as a director.”
A Terrific Trilogy
The team plans to produce three individual and complete films that are different in tone, but come together to make a greater whole as a trilogy. As Shaw explains, “I’ve subtly linked the stories narratively, but kept them distinct from each other so that a child could pick any one of them to watch on any given day depending on the way they were feeling or what kind of story they needed to see.” “We have storyboarded the first film and made an animatic, plus we have scripts and designs for the second and third film,” says producer Ruth Fielding who is the studio’s co-founder and managing director with Camilla Deakin. “The production schedule is 94 weeks for all three half-hour films. We are looking for financiers and broadcast partners at Annecy to greenlight the production. We would love to animate it all in-house at our London studio. This is how we have worked on our previous 2D hand-drawn films. We usually have a crew of about 50 people for these kinds of films.” Fielding points out that the films could be scheduled around a holiday, as a family appointment to view. “The winter film would be an obvious one for the December holidays but the joy of the stories is that they can also be played at any time of year,” she notes. Shaw is pleased that Lupus Films is continuing its tradition of creating 2D animated classics based on heart-warming, beloved books: “The studio has always brought much-loved classics to the screen with all the love and respect they deserve,” says the director. “The Storm Whale is, I believe, a modern classic and will endure because of its timeless themes and beautiful imagery. Lupus Films is the perfect home for it.” Adds Fielding, “The films fit with the rest of our catalog because they are beautifully crafted in a hand-drawn illustrative style which matches the original books and, like all our films, the stories pack a strong emotional punch.” For more information, visit lupusfilms.com
“The films fit with the rest of our catalog because they are beautifully crafted in a hand-drawn illustrative style which matches the original books and, like all our films, the stories pack a strong emotional punch.” — Producer Ruth Fielding