This my cousin, Max.
He passed away ten days ago, very suddenly, as a result of a heart defect. It was pretty much his only serious defect, but turns out it was as serious as defects come.
The coroner described it as an ‘enlarged heart’. His heart was too big. For anyone lucky enough to have known Max, that’s always going to have more than a little poetry to it.
I don’t want this post to turn into a eulogy. I already wrote one of those. It was written to be spoken at the funeral, not read online, and for me it was very much in the moment, but a few people have asked me to make it available so here it is.
The bottom line is that it was a great honour to be asked to pay tribute to Max, and to do so in a church packed to the absolute rafters has left an indelible mark.
It’s also worth mentioning that Facebook has really come into its own through the course of the last week or so, allowing everybody who was ever close to Max to express a shared sense of his loss, and to better understand what it means to each of us. Pooling grief is a fundamental part of the process of overcoming it, and Facebook has made that possible in a way that it wouldn’t have been otherwise.
I want this post to look forward though, not backwards. To mark the end of a long and remarkable weekend spent grieving Max’s loss, but also to register the beginning of a new phase, that of his legacy.
First up is to announce that we’ll be holding our second ever #VHSMovieClub somewhere in London some time in January, at which we’ll be screening one of Max’s favourite movies – John Carpenter’s The Thing.
There’s a long and unlikely story about how I managed to get hold of a copy the day we heard that he’d passed, which also happened to be the day of our first ever #VHSMovieClub. Catch me on the night if you want to hear it. In the mean time, watch this space for details of where and when.
I’m hoping to use the occasion to launch a project, one that feels right, one that feels like it HAS to happen.
Max had a screenplay he was working on for a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. His sister Briony has offered to send me the latest draft. I’m thinking I’ve mixed it with more than enough indie film-making talent in the last year or two to try and take it forward. Fuck knows where, but right now I’m feeling seriously hungry to find out. I’m guessing we might have a few problems getting the rights to produce an official remake (of which there happens to be one already in pre-production) but I know enough about movies to know that you can pay homage to a film without buying the rights to do so.
With that in mind, and, given that my old friend Walter is (a) a university pal of Briony’s, (b) the unpretentious laird of a hard-working 200-acre Scottish estate and (c) pretty much the most resourceful fixer of things you could ever hope to meet, he was the first person I called. A few minutes later I sat down at my laptop and registered www.LochGhoon.com.
Walter and I have worked on a couple of projects before now, to good effect. We’ve been looking for the excuse we need to turn something around at Inshriach, a £50k indie with a 3-week schedule as wildly optimistic as the budget.
I don’t know how we’ll finance it, but I’ve got a couple of ideas. I can tell you this – beyond anything I have to give away to make it happen, anything above and beyond goes to CRY, the charity nominated in Max’s memory.
So, picture the scene…
A handsome young man winds his way down a highland path, the weight of his knapsack barely registering on a pair of impossibly broad shoulders.
He is a monster hunter, making his way by foot to Loch Ness, in search of the ultimate proof of the existence of Scotland’s most fabled creature. He will not arrive today though, and must find a warm meal and a bed for the night,
Suddenly, out of the darkness, a signpost, promising the close proximity of civilisation – or something like it.
The name of the place? Loch Ghoon.
And his name?
His name is Max.