Monday, 16 May 2011

Money is like buses...Wellcome and a Little Party and Cheques Pushed Down My Dress

So there we were, staring into the abyss of pennilessness, wondering if Will and James could finish the edit and sound and do the graphics themselves, after work, after the kids had gone to bed, for nothing, and other tales of near impossible creative sacrifice.

There was about £2K in the Mission bank account and this was all we had to finish the bugger off. I have often compared the process of making a low budget independent documentary for free, when you are doing 'proper' paid work in the daytime, to an endurance steeplechase, you get over one hurdle and relax for two seconds before looking up to see the next one ahead. Occasionally one of the hurdles feels like the last and you romp home, hopefully, only to see another round the corner. Thus is goes on, endlessly. It can be demoralising, oh yes.

We desperately needed money to finish the film. Our application for a grant from the Wellcome Trust looked like it wasn't going to come through, I gave up on that. My fledgling film producer's pleas and little begging paws and round saucer-like eyes had got me nowhere on the fundraising front. I had to own responsibility for completely ballsing up an application for an important festival, and he we hadn't got in. I felt shit, then shitter. if only I was an American Tigger and could put a self-loving spin on it all; I'm a self-loathing Eeyore, and it was making my ears droop so low they grazed the ground even when I was in heels.

Miserable or not, we needed money and self pity wasn't raising a bean, let alone a penny.

The only thing I knew how to do well was throw a knees up. The second Mission to Lars party was launched.

Sigrid Wilkinson helped, she hosted the thing, put her name to the invite, she has an arts consultancy called, erm, Arts Co, and that in itself was an endorsement. She worked like a Trojan, and between us we found some great auction lots which I'll attach as a document on another post if you are curious. They had to be auction lots people would actually want. Don't you hate those dodgy auctions that involve golfing weekends and spa days. Like, SO WHAT.

Darling Justin of Joybear Pictures; the caring porn tycoon and son of a Jewish upper west side socialite came through with another walking talking part in his beautiful fairtrade pornos. Julian Wild, Sophy Rickett and Gavin Turk donated art. The world Famous Dixon Brothers offered to pimp an iPod, John Torode offered a masterclass, Five year memberships for Milk and Honey in London and NY, Pascal Dangin said he would do what he normally only does for the cover of the best Vogues, and retouch any photograph. I thought the auction lots were cool. We made some raffle tickets and begged and borrowed more prizes, Jeroboams of MiP my favourite rose from Lea and Sandeman and some undercrackers by Dirty Pretty Things. Amazingly, when people know someone else is paying for the party and all the money raised is going to proper causes and not dodgy overheads, people are so generous. Even my wild friends over in Ibiza offered some very generous stuff.

Hawksmoor did the food for cheap, we invited good and caring people, interested people, many of whom mentioned when they got the invitation that actually, yes, they had learning disability in their family and they really wanted to support us. Frantic and a bit panicky that it would all go tits up, there was actually a lot of love in the room before we all actually, erm, got in the room.

The whole thing was a bit more smart than the last dinner, auction, rave up I'd thrown to get us enough dought to get out of the country and on the Mission in the US. We got Greg Sanderson, the editor of The Review Show, to come and compere a bit of a chat with me and Will; John Battsek turned up from Passion Pictures - which I was pretty grateful for given that the night before I'd sat in the 1400 strong audience with Mick Jagger and other epic sorts at the premier of his film, Fire in Babylon, and this was a bit of a step down to say the least. We planned on giving half the money we raised that night to Mencap, so Mark Goldring the MD of the charity watched the film and said, yes, he would come and say a few words.

My work suffered, the week before the do I made so little money I only just covered my most basic living expenses. Then I got an email from Wellcome. Against my every expectation, they were delighted to inform us that they would be giving us a very decent sized grant to help get the film out there (because of its under the radar sciencey bits).

We decided to give all but a little of the money we raised on the night to Mencap. And, it was worth it. 60 people stood in the garden of the very kindly secretive philanthropist's house and they watched while I quacked on with Will about the film; they sipped the rather excellent drinks that the very kindly secretive philanthropist had paid for and their eyes definitely stayed on us and I couldn't hear talking at the back - even though I expected it. Afterwards we had an auction, and people slipped cheques into my pocket to buy shares (they put them somewhere, i was wearing a lime green strapless cocktail dress with no pockets).

In the end we raised about £25,000 in total. After the sensible people had gone home some less sensible people had a kitchen disco full of cheer and my Mum talked to everyone and got through lots of electric cigarettes. I hadn't drunk much because of nerves, but I felt drunk.

We have money now; and we gave lots of money to Mencap too.

I had better do some proper work now, it's getting a bit dire the lack of printed word I'm getting out there.

Every day I wake up and wonder when the BBC are going to email me with a yes or a no. I assume No to everything now, even though deep down I'm an optimist and a pile of yesses clank around in the deep bits of my psyche.

Talking of yesses and a noes. I did ask Tom if he wanted to come to the party and of course he said no. "No thank you I'm busy that day", he says, even though you've yet to mention a day. It really is a miracle we got him out of Bystock and on the road in the US. This whole film feels like a miracle.

We have been talking to Wellcome about the outreach around the film, about how to get the message in the film out to as many people as possible and trying to get Tom on the road is definitely part of it.

One hurdle leapt and another several appear...

Goodbye, thanks, happy rest of May to you x