It is one of those days when you are white-knuckled and sweaty just from holding on. As December waxed and now wanes I find myself fighting off all manner of bastard bacteria, sniffing and coughing my way through the days and hoping that the holiday really is just over the crest of the hill and not some elaborate deception created by the government to heap more misery on the already bedraggled.
It is December and I am tired.
Not that it should matter one jot to you out there along the hills and dales of the internet. You are most likely sipping mojitos served to you on a platter made of dreams by a bevy of beautiful men and women who not only find you simultaneously exciting, attractive and inspiring but think your joke about the fridge and the Bolivian ambassador could just be the funniest thing ever uttered in the long and tattered history of this thing we call humanity.
Or you could just be on your sofa munching on a mince pie. Either way the numbers that have any interest in my health are significantly less than significant and so I will press on to matters less dull.
There is something irresistibly summative about this time of year; something about the approach of a, let’s be honest, relatively arbitrary sub-division of infinity that pokes all of us into the type of largely vacuous self-evaluation that was forced upon us at school. Everywhere you look, or at least read, at the moment you are greeted with an endless dance of Top 10s (I blame the internet): Top 10 films (and I was very pleased to see Before Midnight quite so high up the Guardian list, as indeed was the utterly splendid Behind the Candelabra); Top 10 albums, Top 10 idiotic remarks made by politicians, Top 10 sits down, Top 10 underpant adventures . . . . I’m not quite sure why we feel the need to be such compulsive listers but I suppose, like time itself, we find it comforting to impose some sort of order on the spiralling chaos of life. So in the face of such overwhelming cultural hegemony I am not going to do what any self-respecting artist should do; I will not be cocking-a-snoop and purring smugly to myself as I sing snide songs from the sidelines, I am just going to don my trunks and dive into the pool like everyone else. In other, less absurd terms, I am going to bash out for you a festive Top 10.
But whither Top 10? I could give you my ten greatest moments of personal idiocy from 2013 (and God knows there are plenty of contenders from which to choose); I could give you the top ten times when one drink fewer should have sufficed; or my top ten text messages to Jimmy (and that is a list packed to the gills with quality) but I suspect none of these would propel you willingly towards the end of this article SO instead with some pride, modest fanfare and a fair amount of bronchial crisis I will now unveil:
TEN MEMORABLE LONG ARM FILMS MOMENTS IN 2013
It was bloody freezing and it was February and we were standing on the beach in Swansea. Jimmy had a piece of gaffer tape stuck over his mouth and I was embarking on a not-very-funny reference to nineteenth century miserablist Thomas Hardy. This was the filming of the video to launch our crowd funding campaign for our debut feature film High Tide and we’d dragged DOP Chris out into the freezing wastes to film us. We’d watched a lot of other such begging videos and so we hit on the brilliant wheeze of asking you to give us money by telling you NOT TO GIVE US MONEY. Brilliant. What a pair of knobs. For what it’s worth here’s the video in full:
For about two weeks in May 2013 we seemed to upset large numbers of the entertainment industry on a daily basis. We didn’t mean to. It just sort of happened. But we were called “unprofessional”, “idiotic” and “utterly misguided”. And that was just from my Mum – not a bit of it, my Mum is ace. But yes, we upset a lot of people and were told we’d never work in this town again. Luckily we were in Newton Abbot at the time. At one point I had to physically restrain Jimmy from “going round to sort out” someone very famous and powerful. Looking back now, I should probably have let him.
The realisation that some people are absolutely bloody marvellous. At times we felt like a right pair of pricks when repeatedly asking for donations to help us make our feature film. It was something that neither of us enjoyed doing, although making the repeated videos did turn out to be rather fun. Some of our friends resolutely kept their wallets shut (and fair enough too) but some people, some wonderful, beautiful people, some of them complete strangers to us, were generous beyond reason and as the counter ticked down to our crowd funding deadline we sat at our computers feeling blessed and somewhat astounded by people’s faith and generosity.
It was a good few days into the High Tide shoot; the days were long, the pay was awful but thankfully the actors and the locations were simply astounding. This update from the beach at Three Cliffs captures some of the magic of the shoot and I think you can tell that I felt somewhat blessed to be alive and making our film.
Before Midnight was released. There was much rejoicing.
We’d set up base-camp for High Tide in an extraordinary house that we’d rented for the duration of the shoot. We were using the house for several important scenes in the film and we decided that we may as well live there too. This turned out to be a very good idea. On the first official day of the shoot, I sat in the sunshine with acting coach Tom Walker whilst Melanie Walters and Sam Davies read through the script that we were about to shoot. You know those moments when you can scarce believe something is happening? Yep, it was one of those.
Jimmy and I sat outside a cafe in France and drank some coffee whilst watching the rain. This was better than it sounds.
Our friend Tom made this. It is better than the the film it was trying to raise money for.
(taken from my blog entry written just after the shoot)
It was the day of the party scene. We’d always planned for this to be the final day of the shoot but for various reasons this turned out to be entirely inaccurate. However, it was still a big day and our house was filled with crew and actors and friends and family from about eleven in the morning. And then the band turned up. Sam Green and the Midnight Heist unpacked their vans, lugged their equipment up the tiny lane to the house and then set up in the garden. And then they played. And it was brilliant. A few hours later we shot a scene where the host of the party introduces the band and everyone begins to dance. Jimmy and I watched this scene from the back of the garden with tears in our eyes: if ever on the shoot there was a moment where we allowed ourselves the briefest moment of pride, this was it. The sun was shining, the garden was full, the band were brilliant and the whole thing was being recorded for our feature film.
It was day after the High Tide wrap party and it was time to go home. I looked at Jimmy and my hang-dog-tired face was reflected in his. We muttered a few “well dones” to each other, yawned and then hugged. Nothing more to be said. We’d done it.
And there you go. Ten moments from dozens that helped to make 2013 not too shabby at all. Sadly I didn’t have space for High Tide’s Charlotte Mulliner’s stunning punditry about Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory . . oh sod it, here it is in full:
Thank you to everyone. Thank you to our friends, our families, to those that we love and have neglected, those that have helped us by giving us a few quid or just by caring enough to ask how it is all going. Thank you to the wonderful High Tide crew (who, thrillingly, will be reunited early next year – more news on this to follow anon) and finally, thank you to my pal, my partner, my brother Mr Jimmy M Hay. It has been a hell of a year for us. And just you wait until the next.
I might text him and say cheers. Not that he’d reply.
Happy Christmas to you all. Eat, drink, love and drink some more. And then do a bit more eating. And definitely some more loving. This blog will return in the new year (or maybe before; it rather depends on how the new script is going – if lots more blogs appear in the subsequent three weeks you can assume that the script is in all sorts of trouble) but in the meantime thanks for reading in sufficient numbers to have kept me motivated to keep at it all year.
James / Jim / Gill / Badger / The one in Long Arm Films that is not Jimmy