Feb 2010

Silent Pool

I write stuff, I tell stories, I love the whole idea that some days there is a planetary alignment of coincidence in your life that is so unlikely that it has to have some deep spiritual meaning (one day I may even tell you the story of the full story of the house in Highgate cemetery... which will categorically blow your mind)... but I don’t believe any of it really has any special meaning, I don’t believe it at all.

But... about four years ago I made a massive change in my life. Out went the years of chasing impossible childhood dreams of working in advertising and working in the music industry and in came my original ‘impossible childhood dream’ of making movies.

I made a few music videos and won a (tiny) film award and wrote a business plan, and that business plan ended with ‘future me’ making two blockbuster movies, the first a was simply called ‘1’ (it is my E.T.) and the second was a psychological thriller called ‘Silent Pool’. I wrote the business plan and I made a trailer for each film and now, as I write this I am working my way towards building the dream.

So why make a film called Silent Pool?

Well avoiding all the complexities of the plot, I had this idea to do what almost no one has successfully achieved since 1975, to revisit the genre defined by a movie that has had more direct impact on my life and the lives of others more than any other movie I know... Jaws. My script needed a title and I immediately thought of a legend that haunted me as a child.

When I was ten, my dad was a Navy shooting champion at Bisley rifle range in Surrey and nearly every weekend we would drive there, past a small sign pointing towards a beauty spot called ‘Silent Pool’. Every time we passed I would ask my mum what Silent Pool was and every time she would tell me this story.

Silent Pool is a small tree lined lake. It is said that a woodcutter who lived in the forest had a son and a very beautiful daughter, one day the daughter was bathing in the lake when she heard a horse and rider, she had no time to get out and dress, so she waded deeper to cover herself. The rider tried to get her to come out of the water but she would not, this angered him so he went in with the horse to try and get her, to try and avoid him, she waded even deeper stil. On the sound of her cries her brother tried to help but he could barely swim either, they both ended up drowning and the horseman rode off. Their father searched for his children for days until he dragged their bodies from the lake. The ghosts are said to haunt the lake and the girl is said to be seen floating on the water, and her pleas for help can still be heard. As legend has it, the lake became known as Silent Pool due to its eerie calmness and the fact that to this day, no animal would come near the water and no birds would sing.


The story chilled me to the bone and much as I had been fascinated to visit the lake one day, I never did.

Then one Saturday last year I went to visit a friend of mine Kengo, near Guilford to talk about work. We went for a walk in the Surrey hills and his girlfriend Hilary came too. As we talked, it turned out that Hilary and i had a lot in common, to the point that we were even born in the same hour, on the same day in the very same year. We talked as we ate lunch in a cafe perched high on-top of a hill, and soon the conversation moved to the films I wanted to make and I mentioned Silent Pool. ‘Have you ever been there she said’, ’no’ I said... she paused and pointed, ‘its just down there’.

The thing however about stories is, that they are always better left simply as stories and as the months rolled by, i forgot all about the talk of Silent Pool... until one day I bumped into Kengo again.


‘Its amazing’ he said, ‘what is’ I replied, ‘Silent Pool’ said Kengo ‘its exactly how you described it, but the hut on the water isn’t there anymore’. I pointed out that he must be getting confused as the hut on the water was in the trailer I had made, but Kengo was adamant. So this morning I got in my car, and I drove to Silent Pool.
In all these years, I had never seen so much as a picture, but I prepared myself for the disappointment as we walked up the path in the pouring rain under the greyest of skies, the like of which only a british winter can deliver.


And there it was. On this greyest of days, the water was as clear as crystal and between the swathes of emerald green rock was the most astonishingly still sapphire blue water I have ever seen. Silent Pool is indeed magical and at one end of the lake are six wooden piles where once a hut stood, reaching out into the water... exactly how I imagined it and exactly like the trailer I had made.


When someone born at exactly the same moment, on exactly the same day, in exactly the same year, is the very person who leads you to a place you always dreamed about, and it is indeed everything that you ever dreamed about and a whole lot more... how can the movie you make about it be anything but amazing?


Or does the fact that I am writing this on the very day I first visited Silent Pool, at precisely the same moment, exactly one year to the day since I helped organise ‘Bad Movie Club’ go someway to redressing the balance?

Eldridge Smerin: House in Highgate Cemetery

A few years ago I went to meet a musician at a house overlooking Highgate Private cemetery. It was designed in the 1970s by John Winter and it looked like it came straight from an episode of Thunderbirds. I saw it and I loved it, for all of its avatar blue, corrugated modernist ridiculousness.

I almost wanted to own it one day, but it wasn’t quite ‘me’.

By pure coincidence, I passed the house again the other day... well not quite the same house, they knocked it down... and look what they built in its place!

Pasted Graphic 1

The new Eldridge Smerin designed house is a triumph (if you like that sort of thing)... and this time it is totally ‘me’.
If I was a house, this is the house I would be.

It was built in 2004, so when I got home, I rushed to see which house was on Google maps, and the answer, neither, just a big hole and a crane.
Anyway, back to work... I’ve got £4m to earn