There’s a dentist in the Isle of Man who bought a camera on eBay. He’s been making a movie for a decade. The concept is potentially interesting and he’s a lovely man. But I have a strong suspicion it’ll never be finished. It’s something he does between his other ventures. He’s got property out there. He’s got his practice. He’s got his community.
He’s a good man, if unusual. I didn’t know him at all, but he found me through a friend over a year ago. I got a phone call. I had stuff I needed to do on the island. It aligned.
He flew me to the island where I grew up. I had received some handwritten pages of script, photocopied. Inexplicably, surrounded by the sea and the wild, he has set it in London. He paid me a bit of cash to do some acting. He put me up in a nice hotel. I tried to do alright by him, but the other actor in the scene, a local – he didn’t show up. We only had the one day. I delivered my lines to nothing.
The crabbed photocopied handwriting on the script, the fact he’s not on any social media, the lack of a mobile phone or even email, the fact that when you call him back he doesn’t answer and you get an actual FAX MACHINE … All these things worried me a little bit, flying on my own from London to this small island.
But I’m at home in The Isle of Man. I’ve got friends there, history there. I feel safe there. He flew me back to my home island and I did him a favour. I felt a little worried when I realised quite how low budget he was. It crossed my mind that I might be involved in something weird. But I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself, I wasn’t in anything weird, and apart from the fact that the footage might end up on This Is Your Life there’s no harm done.
He has rung me periodically because he can’t find actors out there. He’s hoping I’ll help him.
If easyJet is running it’s pretty cheap to fly there these days from London – not like when I was a kid and Manx Airlines had the monopoly. Back then we always traveled by boat from Heysham. But now there’s a regular plane. He’s happy to fly some actors over.
He means well but I’ve usually blocked him as I won’t send someone over to him on their own. It’ll be too unfamiliar even though he’s harmless. But he’s looking for a couple of parts once lockdown eases. I have a couple of mates who might fill them if we can go out there with another project in mind. We stay a week, film for him one day, and borrow his equipment to make a short over there. It’s beautiful and lends itself to filming. The Isle of Man film commission almost had a heyday but it was mired in bureaucratic incompetence and suspect behaviour. There is a lot of space and a lot of beauty there. Why not capture some of it.
I just had this idea today though. So now I need a story …
Meanwhile the ducks and the tide.