“Was that you in the fountain?” she asked. “Someone saw you from the office and we all came over to the window to look.”
“What,” I asked, “Was I like the hot guy from a Coke ad?” I imagined myself awakening the pent-up passions of bored office girls as they stared at me through frosted glass, beads of perspiration rising on their necks.
“No. We just wondered who the arsehole in the blow-up boat was.”
A call from Matt Heason. I can’t remember exactly what he asked me to do - something to do with a voiceover on a promo film he was doing for the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. It didn’t sound like a lot. I said Yes. A, few weeks later, me, Claire-Jane Carter, Ed Birch and Dora were stood in the centre of Sheffield thinking we have to think of an idea for a promo film then film it.
We went for coffee to thrash through ideas. Swear to god, it was like one of those piss-take ‘creativity’ sessions I had seen on TV. We could do this…. We could do that… Unworkable ideas were flying back and forth. Think typewriters frantically clacking, and scrunched-up pages going in the bin, artistic angst, air punching, then a bit of an argument over who was going to pay the bill. You get the idea.
It was a hoot. Ed and Dora are trained-up film makers and photographers. Claire was on the backwash of a film she had created having won big awards at film festivals. I was a pumped up Fearless Francie Brady-type character looking for an angle. Together we came up with a plan. We strode off towards the cinema where we were going to do it and realised it was a shit plan.
Need a new idea. Time to freestyle. Time to get urban.
It just so happens that Ed simply lives to have adventures, and never travels anywhere without a canoe, a bike trainer, some skis, abseil kit, a tent, a Rock 6 and a BASE rig in the back of his Nissan Micra. We grabbed them and employed these to great effect on a cold and sunny Sheffield Friday morning. Camping, canoeing, climbing over the furniture of the city. I cycled without going anywhere on a set of well-lubed bobbins that had me fighting for balance millimetres away from passing HGVs. I snowploughed across pelican crossings in Ed’s expensive skis.
It was all a bit mad, but in a really great spirit, and all four of us felt that we were on the same mission. We came up with ideas and followed them through, sometimes having not to think of how you looked, with everyone bringing something to the show.
About noon, once we knew we had everything we could get, we called it a day. We packed up the rattle and went for some Mexican streetfood, a phrase I don’t understand. We ordered, sat down, and tucked in. It was delicious.
It was the perfect full stop to a great morning. We had expressed ourselves artistically and had a crack doing it. How could things be any different? And when things are like that, that’s great.
But the interesting thing about the day was that it soon became obvious that we were a spectacle that some homeless people would freely interact with. I’d be sitting in the ornamental fountain that amphitheatres Sheffield train station in my blow-up canoe and someone would ask me what I was doing.
It brought a real thing to the day, getting to hear some stories I don’t get to hear very often. I sometimes felt too buzzing-around to slow down, but we did slow down. It was civil, but edgy. This was partially because talking with a homeless person makes me feel like a bit of a wanker, the way I look at the ultra-privileged, and think them wankers.
Anyway, job’s a good one. The film is made. Ed’s done a great job that recalls a great day. And check out Shaff while you’re at it, and get along if you possibly can. It a sweet thing, and Matt does a great job of bringing things out of people.
See our film here, jerks.