When I did the “Jon and Friends” shoot for Splat, I think I thought “okay, that’s it, I’ve had my moment”. I definitely didn’t think that I’d be sitting on a train to SplatHQ again within a few months not just for a mini shoot but to take part in Splat’s biggest ever weekend. Even on the train I didn’t have the faintest idea of what would be happening over the next day and a half…
Going back a week or so, there were a few minor issues that arose to do with the shoot. One of the models “fell through” (that’s an understatement but go look on the Splat twitter feed for the full story) so I was communicating with Splat about possible replacements. I managed to find someone I knew who was reliable and Splat agreed. It was their idea to throw Aiden into the mix and make it an event. It wasn’t really until the night before that I suddenly thought “Oh hell, this is actually more important to Splat than Jon and Friends was…. And I’ve been put right in the middle of it.”
Splat’s faith in me has been amazing, and with Aiden and Lycrastee on board, I knew I was going into something fantastic. Pete gave me the honour of writing one of the games for Lycrastee, so the night before the shoot I was hastily trying to get information out of him that could be used for a game without actually giving away any of my intentions. I knew it had to be a quiz (not because Pete had insisted but more because they were a simple way to get models messy, give them a chance to express their personality and have a bit of chat with them whilst we filmed) but I knew it had to have a special gimmick for Stee… With the questions written I crawled into bed and completely failed to sleep.
Delays on the tube meant I was running about half an hour late. Turns out though that I wasn’t the only one who had had a rough night and Pete seemed quite glad of the extra minutes in bed. He then sent the message that both terrified me and excited me. Would I be willing to take charge of the Lycrastee shoot and then Pete would do the Aiden shoot? This may surprise you but I did have to stop and think. There’s a big difference between going to Splat to get messy and going to Splat to actually present. Of course I said yes, but it was the hardest three letter message I’ve sent! Especially as I knew there were votes and pre-shoots that he would be involved in.
Arrived at SplatHQ, ran through the day. I’d do Lycrastee, Pete would do Aiden and then we’d shoot my Halloween special. Yeah. Looking back on it, planning to get three shows done in one day was always going to be a challenge, don’t ever think what Splat does is easy! You see the show (or hopefully the live feed). You don’t see the endless mixing and lifting of gunge into the tank. You don’t see the virgin host getting VERY nervous and desperately wondering if it’s too late to back out. But it’s Lycrastee. And it’s Pete. I know I’m in safe hands and I’ve got support. And when I say I did the Lycrastee shoot I mean it. If you ever do a shoot, things I suddenly found I had to consider included keeping an eye on the time (both because Aiden was due at a certain time and also to make sure the segments were kept to the right length), what outfit to get the model in (something to make them look good, something they’ll be happy to wear and something that goes with the gunge you’ve got prepared), thinking of questions to ask them for the interview (not too personal, not too dull, and maybe extract things that can be used later in the show) and, most importantly of all, remember it’s the model the people are interested in, not the host. Thankfully, Lycrastee was brilliant in everything he did. He knew how to do quizzes for the camera, he played along with my prompting and hints for his “Give me the gunge” quiz and okay, he’s such a genuine person I really couldn’t bring myself to make him do a game he didn’t want to… and the replacement balloon game was hastily improvised BUT Stee, if you’re reading this, you are my hero. It was an honour to gunge you and I hope I did you justice.
Aiden arrives… and my brain goes into overdrive. If you’ve seen my “Jon and Friends” you’ll know about my dysmorphia and yes, when Pete announced Aiden as part of the weekend… okay I freaked out. Pete, I didn’t tell you this but yeah, the thought of working with Aiden did actually scare me. I’ll never let it worry me again though because yeah, you genuinely know how to pick people that are easy to work with. Aiden and Stee got the vote video done (and MASSIVE congratulations to Stee, the vote was painfully close and you should be very proud of that) and Aiden got his first tanking. And yes, for every tanking there needs to be a refilling, a cleaning, more gunge mixed…. The pre-shoot video was a scream to shoot. Okay I made the questions a little too hard (I’ve learned for next time) but Stee and Aiden went for it and made it the most entertaining head to head of the day. And Stee got to foam up Aiden. A lot. And then tank him again. It’s a hard life eh Stee ;)
With Stee heading back home to Cardiff, that left two shows to do. And I think at this point both Pete and I knew it wasn’t going to happen. We knew Aiden would be easy to shoot with, I’d already realised I had nothing to be nervous about but we realised we still had something like ten segments left to do… so the Big Weekend really DID become the weekend and I agreed that I’d come back the next day to do my stuff and potentially help out with Paul. Best decision we made (well, second best… Aiden in those yellow shorts was easily the best) and it meant the atmosphere was more relaxed than it might have been. Message for Aiden…. You’re a legend. You took everything we threw at you (literally), you provided some truly great laughs and yeah…. I don’t want to say too much about your show except thank you for letting me do what I did. You never questioned a single thing and you have the makings of a gunge hero. Pete ran the show, I was the hired hand and you were the weekend’s star.
With the decision made to do my shoot the next day, we did a clean up and I headed back to London for the night. Pete also had to do washing an admin and get sleep as well… something to think about which I now realise more than ever before is that to make those two “hour long” shows took from something like 10am till 7pm. I’ve never appreciated sleep so much. I knew I’d be happy the next day….
My shoot was always planned to be unpleasant. I also freely admit that I dreamed up most of it. I wanted to give Splat something different to release and I wanted to make sure that my final appearance would be memorable. It also meant that by going back I could do a vote segment with Paul, something that hadn’t been planned but would have been great. Sadly Paul didn’t show which threw major spanners into the works but not half as big a spanner as Pete’s washing machine breaking down. Doesn’t sound too major? Just remember the day before we’d shot TWELVE segments with two different models. There wasn’t a clean towel in the place. So Pete, oh magnificent Pete…. He took the “unpleasant” theme and ran with it. Yes, he did check everything with me first. Yes, I know that if I’d said I wasn’t happy with anything Pete wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But you know what…? There’s a reason the Splat shows are so good, and that reason is Pete. Again, no spoilers because I really want you to buy my show but let me assure you one thing. Day and a bit old gunge is VILE. What you see happening in my show IS what happened. It wasn’t stunt gunge that we pretended was old, it was 100% genuine old gunge. It wasn’t water that I pretended was chilly… that water WAS freezing cold. When you see me shivering, it’s real. When you see me taking the cold, smelly gunge…. Yeah, I was determined to see it through. Strictly between you and me, Pete very nearly won the last game. Just don’t tell him that.
With Paul confirmed as a no show, I started cleaning down the tank whilst Pete finally disposed of the gunge. And I thought that was it. I thought I’d be leaving Splat HQ for the last time…. But then again I never thought, when I went there on the Saturday morning I’d be back on the Sunday. And on the Sunday, I never thought Pete would……
Because I know what’s coming next. And you don’t yet. Enjoy the shows from the Big Weekend and know that plans are very much afoot…..