How we Saved the Planet

I’m an environmentalist in principle. I’m a strong believer that someone should be doing something to keep the planet fit for humanity, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me in the slightest.

When Writers’ Block asked me to spend a Saturday and Sunday morning helping with the 48 Go Green Challenge – a competition to make an environmentally themed film  in 48 hours – I was delighted to help. Once someone had explained to me that Sunday had a morning again (who knew?)

I’m in this business for the glamour. Redcar beach in February has a surfeit of the stuff. The seaside sky was trying to out-grey the clouds of smoke picturesquely pumping from the ICI works and the ocean seemed hungry for souls as it playfully tried to drag us to Norway every time we turned our backs on it.

Safe to say it was cold. My manly forbearance was put to shame, however, by the courage of Beth Wilcock who was stood thigh-deep in the North Sea to illustrate a front room flooded by global warming. The look on her face when the first wave hit the back of her legs would have been hilarious if I hadn’t been so humbled by her courage and distracted by calculating how long etiquette demands we should stay in casualty with her after frostbite claimed her limbs.

Luckily, the actress was made of stronger stuff and gave a flawless performance which revealed no suffering whatsoever and a cheerful indifference to an inevitably rheumatic future.

The following day’s shooting was in Albert Park on a day when the Sun was in attendance but it didn’t really feel like contributing. I also appeared in a scene in which I collapsed outside the Princess Alice in Newport Road; muscle memory helped although my inability to throw flash cards on the floor in a reasonable period of time was frankly embarrassing. Think I got away with it.

James Harris’s script was about various oddball environmentalists and their surreal attempts to prevent global warming. Together we produced what I feel is a charming and funny little film that pokes fun at humourless eco-warriors while expressing sadness at the limits to the contributions individual human beings can make. Either that or it’s a bunch of stupid people doing stupid things. Same diff.

Check out the film at www.48gogreen.com/video/461/save-it and see what you think. It features the music of Tim Marshall and great performances from some talented local actors. Despite the whiny commentary above, I had a blast making it and it was great to spend 2 days with award-winning film-makers making it up as they went along. I laughed a lot. Hope you will too.

By Danielle Boucher: Against the odds

“Against all the odds of freezing weather, time, equipment and being so close to the aura of such incredible talent, I managed to do my bit to help ‘Save It’ become the most amazing film ever shot (in Middlesbrough that weekend). No really though, I enjoyed working with ‘the team’ and think we came up with a good little film in the end. I may be starting to get the hang of this comedy thing… maybe? Anyway, I look forward to the next one… thanks guys.”

By Tim Marshall: Somewhere Down-the-Internet, Pre-Mayan Apocalypse, March 2011

Dear The Internet,

I am writing to tell you about the lovely time I had a couple of weekends ago. Would you believe I took part in another 48-hour Film Contest? Not only that, but Laura McCartney and James Lennon got the old band back together! A bit like on Let It Be, they drafted in some new talent in the form of Mark Lund and Danielle Boucher to play keyboards – just like Billy Preston, they provided many of the best bits.

We all converged at Writers’ Block H.Q. on Saturday morning and set about getting to grips with the script. Fifteen minutes later, and with everyone thoroughly gripped, we set out for Redcar beach – the first location. I know what you are going to say, The Internet. Did they get you to stand around in the cold again on a Saturday and Sunday? Well, yes but that fails to grasp the fun that can be had standing around in the cold when you have a fancy camera and a fluffy microphone cover! Okay, so Redcar beach was cold. It was raining. But spare a thought for Beth Wilcock, who drew on deep reserves of artistic commitment to stand in the sea up to her waist and act like acting was going out of fashion.

We filmed the final scene of the film as the tide approached, threatening crew and equipment. With that in the can, spirits soared and we all decided to celebrate finishing the film by going to the pub! Laura and James reminded us that we still had to film the beginning and the middle. After much script analysis and conferring, the cast agreed and we returned to Middlesbrough.

And so it continued across the weekend, dear The Internet! Location to location, startled member of the public to even more startled member of the public! Jennifer Nelson pretending to grow vegetables in Albert Park, me wearing a wig and shouting mild profanities – really, The Internet, I can’t tell you how much fun it is to make a film.

I will leave you with one thought. If you have a silly idea and a video camera of some description – get out there and get filming! Even if it’s a serious idea – film it seriously! Just film it!

Lots of Love

Tim Marshall