You might or might not know that last year I went off on an American road trip. I wanted to see if it was possible to get from coast to coast without giving any money to "The Man"... by which I mean I wasn't going to eat at a chain restaurant, stay in a chain hotel or - and this is the really hard bit - get fuel from a chain gas station.
To begin with the idea was that I'd do the trip, come home and then write a book about it. But when I talked about it with a few friends they suggested it would be a good subject for a film.
Initially I was reluctant... I didn't want to have a crew following me and I didn't want to end up hosting one of those travel shows where the presenter meets a sequence of pre-arranged eccentrics that a researcher has found. It seems to me that when it becomes one-of-those-shows you end up being robbed of the personal experience because you're just going through the motions of a story that someone has worked out in advance... whereas I wanted to actually try to do something and either succeed or fail on my own mettle.
So we ended up making the film in a nice low budget way by just finding a brave film-maker who was prepared to come along in the car with me and shoot whatever happened. No crew. No schedule. Just us, an idea and a car.
I'm still writing the book - which will be out in April/May (I think) but we've spliced the film together already. It'll be shown on More4 in February. I'm really pleased with the result... but it's always impossible to guess what other people will think of things... especially when it's really different to the kind of work I've done before.
The movie was submitted to the Austin Film Festival and I was really delighted when they came back saying they wanted to include it in the schedule. From my point of view it was the best way of getting some proper feedback on the film. The audience there wouldn't have any preconceived notions about what I do because they wouldn't have a clue who I was. They'd just view it as a film from a couple of unknown film-makers. Hopefully they'd enjoy it. Maybe they wouldn't.
It turns out they enjoyed it. I've been really pleased with the reaction. (You can see the audience reviews here.) That was pretty much all I hoped we'd achieve at the festival - just some good honest feedback - but yesterday the news got better still. I heard that we'd actually won the Audience Award for best Documentary Feature. A champagne cork has been popped. Hurrah for things like that.
If you've seen or read Googlewhack Adventure you'll know that Austin, Texas is the scene of one of the lowest points in my life. Right now it feels like I've pulled it back to a 1-1 draw.