"We couldnt quite figure out what they were doing," says Swan, "then it dawned on us that they were actually dinghy-racing and using our boat as one of the markers which made a mockery of the films premise that we were out at sea in a shipping lane. Also the klaxon kept going off every time someone passed the finishing line back in the harbour. So we had a sort of farting noise on the soundtrack as well."
They soldiered on, filming between passing dinghies and unwanted sound effects. Then, about three in the afternoon, another spanner hit the works when the day that had dawned so bright suddenly began to turn and the calm sea grew choppy.
"John went very quiet and didnt respond when I said shoot," recalls the director. "I looked around and he was actually leaning over the back of the boat puking up the baguettes wed had for lunch."Somehow the cast and crew persevered and by the end of the weekend, Swan had enough footage to get in the editing room and start work on a special effects sequence in which the youngest passenger on this fishing trip from hell imagines two fish gleefully rocking an already fractious boat.The only real work that remained was to get footage of the tanker that threatens to smash apart the family for good."But when I went out into the shipping lanes to film a tanker, the fog came down and we just sat there in a little 12-foot boat for about half an hour. No tankers at all. Mind you, we couldnt hear or see anything."Swan lived to tell the tale of being fogbound and made it back to harbour, but was still left searching for that elusive tanker."In the end my assistant producer Jenny Gill and I drove along the coast, stopping at ports. Of course, none had any tankers. Eventually we came to Sheerness and talked to the port authority who, after a bit of wangling, gave us a special pass to sit on the harbour wall and film ships coming in and out. Finally, we got the footage we needed there."
Now in the can and set to premiere on 28 January at the 291 Gallery in Hackney, Swan says the film was inspired by his own experiences of nightmarish childhood fishing trips in Cornwall."My dad saw it as giving me an opportunity that other children didnt have, which would have been fine if Id enjoyed it, but I didnt. Every weekend was a boating weekend, whereas I would have been quite happy going to play with my mates in the village. But no, wed either have to go out in the boat fishing or, during the winter, paint the boat every weekend. Because if we didnt paint the boat we wouldnt be able to go out in it in the summer which I didnt want to do anyway."Swan, who no longer does anything he doesnt want to, is now working on another short about the second coming of Jesus, who arrives in Islington only to be confronted by a case of road rage. As yet, he has no plans to move on to features."Id be quite happy making short films for the rest of my life," he says. "Maybe I could put them all together and make one long film at the end."