Strange Machine is a London-based production company that aims to disrupt conventions in the film industry and bring different perspectives to the screen.

By exploring complex themes via experimental genre films, and using the freedom they offer to push narratives in unexpected directions, we hope to uncover truths about the way we live and who we are.


Francesca Castelbuono

Francesca is a writer and director. They trained in performing arts at Goldsmiths before forging skills in production and the wider industry by working with companies including Universal Pictures, New Regency, and See-Saw Films.

Their short Undone, about an encounter between a young woman and an older married woman, screened at festivals including Aesthetica, Inside Out, NewFest, and Pan-African Film Festival, and was picked up for distribution by Peccadillo Pictures. Previous work includes The Flood, an allegorical short about the climate and migrant crisis commissioned by the Central School of Speech & Drama, and Lynch, a short about social paranoia commissioned by global ad agency DLV BBDO.

Francesca was mentored by director Gina Prince-Bythewood, with whom they worked extensively on Netflix’s film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron. More recently they worked with producer Andrea Cornwell and writer Anna Symon on the Apple TV+ series The Essex Serpent, directed by Clio Barnard. They were also a visiting writer on Season 3 of HBO’s Succession as part of the HBO UK Director Programme.

In 2021 Francesca was recognised as a Women In Film LA Pathmaker Awardee.

Manuel Sepulveda

Manuel is a graphic artist, designer and writer. He has worked with several clients in the independent music industry, having formed his studio, Optigram, in 2008, and commissions have encompassed album covers, book design, kinetic art pieces, and experimental animation. In 2020 examples of his record label work were shown at London’s Design Museum as part of Electronic, their exhibition on the history of dance music culture.

He was editor and publisher of the arts, science and politics print journal, After Us. Through essays, pictorials and fiction, the journal gave space for artists and writers to explore how the latest technological developments and emerging political ideas might affect societies in the future, and focused on how the arts can help guide us through a changing world.

More recently he has worked as a designer for film productions, focusing on worldbuilding via the conception and development of cultural environments, semiotic designs, and language systems, and his credits include worldbuilding assets for the live-action film, Pokémon Detective Pikachu. He also created animation elements for Ghost Diamond, an experimental dance film from South Africa supported by the British Council which explored Zulu and Japanese mythologies.