MUDDY WATERS

We have some 6 hours of filmed ‘rushes’ so far shot for less than £1000, all thanks to the huge well of support for the NHS (see film trailer). Everyone’s providing their gear and services without charge and are going out of their way to be helpful. If I can raise sufficient money then all who have contributed so generously will get some recompense.

My first priority is to get the basic costs covered so that we can at least produce a finished film. Crowdfunding is the obvious path to pursue. Most crowdfunded projects rely on the support of friends and acquaintances. But Groundswell’s subject matter may make it a better runner than many for getting backing from the public too.

In the ‘rushes’ Joanna says; “There was a point when we didn’t have an NHS, yet people had the vision and the hope and the energy to create an NHS. I’d rather we didn’t have to start from the Stone Age, a dog-eat-dog Tory-land. But if you don’t have hope you don’t have anything. From nothing you can always build something.” Her faith, and detemination to maintain 999 Call For The NHS’s independence from party politics, of making their own way as a grassroots organisation, is refreshing.

Joanna is in it for the long game. The siren voices warning of the catastrophe that will follow if Save The NHS’ers don’t fall in line with the Labour Party (as the NHS’ only hope) have a way to go to convince those like her who deeply distrust their traditional representatives after their complicity in the NHS’ dismemberment. But for others the siren calls may be hard to resist, more so as the Election approaches, and particularly if they are coming from within campaign groups’ own ranks.

In our ‘rushes’ campaigners talk about their experiences of ‘astroturfing’, the Dark Art of using grassroots groups to promote a party’s own interests. They refer to the planting of Labour Party siren callers among campaign groups and the manipulation of their meetings, campaign events and media imagery. This is apparently designed to remould campaign groups in the Party’s image and to create the impression of the Party having the support of grassroots campaigners. In the case of many it clearly doesn’t. At least not yet.

Whatever such buffetings 999 Call as a campaign organisation remains particularly free of any suggestion of big party political ties, influence or orientation among its leadership. They are an ‘awkward squad’ representing the profound, even historic, loss of support that the Labour Party, and indeed the whole political apparatus, faces if it doesn’t evidence a serious change of heart from its free-market advocacy of recent years. For many like Joanna the NHS is the locus for this issue in a most high-stakes of Elections. Can the ‘awkward squad’ and their grassroots allies have an impact on the outcome?

The January 24th 999 Call conference for grassroots groups at Stafford, which we filmed, saw the NHS Reinstatement Bill Group‘s new PR man Alan Taman air its aims. Will the Bill be sufficiently radical and comprehensive to persuade the doubters that they should rally behind it and try and get at least 100 MP’s committed in principle to its policies before the Election, as the Group hopes? Will 999 Call be successful in their efforts to create an umbrella for the disparate NHS campaign groups to unite under?

And will such a united front be able to spur a massive wave of public support in time to Save The NHS? Or will David Owen’s dire prognostications of the demise of the NHS by 2020, unless a new government commits itself to restoring the NHS to its public service remit, prove ever more likely of fulfilment as the Election looms?

A key tenet of all screenwriting teachings is the need to create situations of jeopardy for a film’s characters. Groundswell is not lacking in this department!

I’m also exploring the possibility that the film might become the building block of a longer-term social history project recording a potentially historic shift in Britain’s political landscape and its workings if internet-savvy People Power proves a significant phenomenon in the Election and beyond.

Meanwhile there are stirrings from Development Hell – the actor we’ve approached for the lead part in The Crunch has returned home and is finally reading my screenplay this week. Time to mainline the Horlicks.

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