We go in. We get what we want. We come out.
That was me yesterday.
And that, there on the left, looking slightly pissed off, is twenty-four hours later.
Nice to know I can shave ten years off myself armed with nothing more than a razor. Not to mention the fact that my good lady wife is prepared to be physically intimate with me again.
I hadn’t shaved since my cousin Max’s funeral back in November. I knew all along I was growing a beard for a reason, I just didn’t know what exactly what that reason was. Turns out it was #Plan9.
The potted version is that late last year I saw a cousin four years my junior exit this world, and about forty-eight hours later decided to adopt a pet film project of his and see it through to fruition. Maybe it was actually just a moment of selfish psychological opportunism, a bid to try and revive my own faltering aspirations as a film-maker, jumpstarted by the shock of his loss. I don’t really know.
But I do know that we’re none of us, however many beards we shave off, getting any younger. And I know Max would have loved what we got up to yesterday, if only the sheer audacity of it. A shoot at one of the best locations in London, a cast of thousands, and it didn’t cost us a bean.
So what the hell is #Plan9? Well, it started life as just a regular Plan B. Driving back from Scotland after New Year, contemplating my spectacular failure to shoot the original Loch Ghoon teaser.
I guess I should have seen it coming, as soon as I settled on the title for this post. Sizemore or no Sizemore, you don’t get to rub it in the faces of the god of indie film-making without rebuke. And sure enough, things started to go awry almost as soon as the imaginary ink was figuratively dry.
With the entire Cairngorms cloaked in snow, and the temperature plummeting, a call came through from Walter. Just a delicate suggestion that we might want to start to rethink any plans to film outside. Or, for that matter, go outside.
If the house was to be our box, we had, at the very least, to think outside of it. I attempted some frantic rewrites, but quickly ran into trouble. It’s one thing for your protagonist to encounter an ancient amphibian aggressor lurking on the banks of a small Scottish loch. I found myself struggling to rationalise the hitherto reclusive creature’s decision to depart the sanctuary of its icebound home, climb several hundred yards up a steep hill, and break into a nearby house, for the sole purpose of molesting its peace-loving inhabitants. Anything I produced seemed to require not so much the suspension of disbelief as its unconditional expulsion.
Meanwhile, as the flavour of our original script was being diluted thus, it became increasingly apparent that the heroic intentions of our leading man – you may know him under the name of Benny Crime – were in danger of crossing the fine line that divides stoicism and lunacy.
Benny had kindly agreed to take the pivotal role in our original teaser, that of a gentleman thief called The Otter (so named because of his propensity for escaping over water). His other half, Judy, had subsequently agreed to direct. Both had committed, in doing so, to driving a small and notoriously erratic car called Colin the length of the country, in order to shoot thirty-six scenes, and then drive all the way back to London. And all this over the course of just three calendar days.
Oh, and the penalty for failing to get back on time? No biggie. Just that they would miss Judy’s mother’s wedding, taking place on New Year’s Eve.
Finally, common sense prevailed. And thank fuck, because when Emma and I reached the end of our own horrific journey north – the last two hours of which were spent driving blindly into a maelstrom of darkness and snow, punctuated by occasional bursts of bright light and sharp metal – we found a house full of party. Never a bad result, au contraire, but no place for an elaborate and already wildly over-ambitious film shoot.
All of which meant that, coming back down the M1 on January 2nd, the car needlessly burdened with all manner of unused film-making equipment, and my brain going overtime trying to synthesise serotonin from the various chemical constituents of pickled onion Monster Munch, I was feeling a little downbeat about the whole thing.
But you can’t beat yourself up over these things, not too much, not too long. You have to take the regret, the failure, the frustration, and shape it into something worthwhile, something better, something that couldn’t exist if it not for being forged in the fires of your own self-reproach.
So it was that Plan B came into being. Plan B, which swiftly became #Plan9, on account of the extent to which I was starting to identify with a man hailed the worst film-maker of all time – the writer, director and producer of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood.
And #Plan9 is better. I’m not going to go into why – the stories you still hope to tell can always keep. I do want to thank the people who helped out though, I guess that’s what this post is building up to, even if it isn’t quite Oscar night.
It’s quite a roll-call. I’m talking @whatleydude, @_AKA_, @ruperthowe and @katiesol, the latter two of whom had volunteered to help without our ever having met in the flesh before. Then there’s @saffront, @scudamour and @skinnertron, all of whom had no reason to be there but for the readiness to help out, and be involved. And of course @bennycrime and @sizemore, even if Mike didn’t technically turn up, in the tediously corporeal sense at least.
And what did we achieve? I guess that remains to be seen. I’ll tell you what it meant to me though.
It meant an original idea getting off the page. Trust me, we’ve got the footage to prove it. It might be awful, but that’s got fuck all to do with it. If you’re like me, if you’ve talked up enough projects and never delivered, nailing a few scenes feels like blowing up the Hoover Dam.
It meant poking a finger through the slippery membrane that constitutes my comfort zone, and finding that I could pretty easily slide my whole body through. It was invigorating, it always is, when you realise that your essential insignificance is the greatest freedom you’ll ever enjoy. Rejuvenating even.
Meaning that, in a building full of things that aren’t getting any younger, I stole back just a day or two.
It’s a start.