The Accidental Angler
Long ago, before I knew any better, I made some stuff for TV. The BBC2 series The Accidental Angler (4 x 60 Mins) – in which, as my mates never cease to remind me, I wept over the discovery of a six-inch trout in a London river – came out of my first book Somewhere Else and the BBC wanting a series that could be watched by more than just fishermen. Like the stuff I was writing at the time the films were a mix of cultural and natural history and travel, with fishing as the excuse to make the journey – hence the title. We went to Bhutan, Brazil and India, but the most popular film seems to have been the one set in London. The BBC have re-screeened it once in a while, or maybe that was Dave. Anyway, I think you’ll find episodes posted on You Tube if you search for them. Oh look … here’s the one about looking for a wild trout in London. I had a teeny bit more hair then.
A Bonefish Odyssey
Okay, so this never made it to TV. I shot this film with doc producer director Matthew Dyas to make a pitch for a more on-the-fly style documentary film, with nothing pre-planned or contrived. It was going to be a show-reel but we had hours of footage so I learned Final Cut Pro and made a film too. A few people have described it as the most incredible cinematic feat since Aguirre, Wrath of God, but they were all really high. Some DVDs exist but I’m trying to trace and destroy them all. Hey, it kind of worked because it lead to …
A Japanese Obsession
A year later I worked on a pitch with Keo films and then went to Japan with Gavin Searle to make a film about the country, the people and their collective fascination for all things fishy. The 90-minute production was broadcast on BBC4 in Feb 2009, and Nov 2011 and on overseas channels as far afield as Australia and Israel. Sam Wollaston said something about the film being a “treasure house of wonders” which was nice of him, but it was hard not to make something zany, weird and wonderful in a country where they have lobster vending machines. Moments that stand out in my recollection: the island of Sado fishing for sea-shells out of a floating barrel; a fish pond in a Tokyo subway station; the tragedy of Minamata; eating rotten carp; paragliding in a panda suit; a Japanese Elvis singing Only Fools Rush In on the tropical island of Okinawa – think Skegness meets Hawaii; the tuna obsessed rock band Gyoko (above).
And of course Aki, who stole the show and should by now be the biggest TV star in Japan. Once in a while someone drops me a line asking after Aki (pictured below phoning home from Sado) the travelling companion, guide and translator who we recruited via a classified advert in Tokyo freebie paper: he’s doing well I hear, he passed his English exam some time after we left, and still believes that in matters of ethics and eating I should ‘forget about the complicated thing’.