The White Van
A newlywed couple's honeymoon in Iceland tragically snaps into a relentless psychotic vengeful hunt for the mysterious and elusive white van.
The White Van is a contemporary re-imagining of Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
The project is currently in post-production.
Filming The White Van
After working with Mark on The Same Circles, he was very quickly onto the next project, a Marvel-Universe series based on the character Union Jack. I was down for a smaller role in this, which I was glad of, as filming can be a time consuming and difficult process.
However, at some point Mark proposed going to Iceland to make a film based on Moby Dick. His screenplay had Ahab hunting down a white van instead of the white whale. He said it could be done in four days. I liked this idea - yes, it would be four endless days, especially as the sun hardly goes down, but at the end of that we’d have all the raw material from which he could sculpt a film. So I said yes.
I got into a little trouble for that. You see, my wedding and honeymoon were the week before we would go to Iceland to make a film about my character going on honeymoon. So I was off to Sicily with my new wife, then a day later off to Iceland with my on-screen wife. A little strange, especially as my wedding speech was recorded for use in the film. We then thought we may as well gt some more material, so I had a dance with Jasmine, who was to play my new wife in the film. I did feel a little awkward doing that, nervously looking around to see if people were wondering what I was up to. Glad I wasn’t centre of attention that day.
Anyway, Alice, my real new wife came around to the idea, probably having had enough of me for a while after our time in Italy. I went over to Mark and Jasmine’s flat to have another read through of the script. Jasmine had made Alice a little bag of luxuries to say sorry for taking me away so soon.
Later that night Mark sent me a picture of a wound on his leg. My character in the film gets his leg broken by a hit from the white van. The picture was of a homemade creation by Jasmine, which looked like a pretty nasty cut. Mark was not happy with it, but I replied that “it looks alright!”
The day before we were due to go to Iceland, Mark rang up in despair over the wound. He regretted not buying a latex sleeve with a dead realistic compound fracture built into it. He reminded me that my reaction to the wound of “its alright” was very different from my reaction to this product, which was that I almost passed out and felt sick looking at it. That was what we needed. But the only supplier was in Yorkshire. Thirsk, wherever that is. Mark was looking into courier services, offering the job to out-of-work friends, even thinking of driving up himself when he was yet to test and pack the gear.
After a bit of research into sending the wound to Iceland, and other ways around the problem, I volunteered to drive up and get it. I do like driving. Alice, thankfully, was alright with this. She pretends to not like things like this, but she is so tolerant, caring and supportive actually. She even ordered a huge supply of sweets and cakes and instant pastas for the coming challenge. “Its really expensive over there” she explained.
So I hit the road with a two litre bottle of Coke and ....
After about two hour’s sleep the alarm is inexplicably going off. Then I realise: its time. I jump up out of bed and haul myself to the shower. I keep reminding myself - take that passport out of the bag. That will go in the hold, and you’ll be stuck at security.
I hear some activity outside my house, so I think Mark and Jasmine must have driven by. I open the front door and turn on the outside light to guide their way. As I do, Jasmine is suddenly illuminated, appearing out of the darkness. Gave me a quite a fright, actually. Mark is parking the car, and comes up a minute later. We wait for the taxi, which arrives right on time: 4am.
We arrive at the airport and the driver opens the boot. The lenses are in a yellow plastic case with Samyang scrawled across it. I like that name - the sort of name you can shout in the vein of the Simpsons’ Superintendent Chalmers shouting “Skiii-nerr!” Anyway, this case flies out of the back of the taxi and crashes onto the floor. The driver, who opened the boot, goes “Oh shit!” as we look to each other. Probably the first of many disasters, we think. We don’t even check the lenses, as either they are broken or they are not broken. We can’t do anything about it now. For now, they are Schrodinger’s lenses.
We go to check the bags in, and they are very overweight. We swap things around, I fill my pockets and somehow we shave off a few kilograms. The airline is satisfied. However, if it is dangerous to have an overweight bag in the hold, how is it any safer if that weight is now in the cabin?
On arrival Jasmine and me go to pick up the hire car. On her previous trip here, she waited 20 mins for the shuttle bus to where the rental companies are located, only to realise the ride is about 2 mins. We get to the front of the queue, after some guy who insisted upon reading every detail of the small print over and over again before signing. Wise, I guess, but we had no time for that. The pristine fresh faced young blonde Icelandic man, looking like a boy in his Dad’s suit brought the car around. Mark had upgraded it to a bigger model, but judging by this one he must have booked a Hornby model car, as this thing had a boot like a filing cabinet drawer.... He insisted that it was a 2017 model - yes, we know - its not its date of birth that we have a problem with, its the size.
He brought round the replacement, a little bigger, with a good flat dashboard for the cameras. A bit more like it. I watched the 4x4 Mercedes drive by with envy. Mark texted “Is it worth us walking over?” at this point, getting impatient with the wait. Jasmine was the named driver, so we got in and she got her first taste of driving on the right hand side of the road. A little bit of a mind-bending experience.
“Which way do I go?!”
“Over there - that lane - no that one!”
“Keep right - I think its over there -”
“Mark’s calling -”
“Fuck that - which side do -”
“Give way to... the left?”
“Where’s the pick up point?
“Up here - on the left - keep right.”
We park about 50 metres from Mark and Harry, any further travel being too nerve-wracking.
I’m pretty good at this, I think, leaning back in my seat, enjoying the commanding view of the road, looking to the glaciers and mountains on the horizon. You know, I think I’d enjoy being a bus driver. I could give tours of Iceland all summer. I change up a gear and hear the throaty rattle of the diesel engine go deeper then begin to sing higher as I pick up speed. Got to get back for another drive-by shot. There’s a turning point past where the guys are filming, which i have been using, but time is of the essence, so I indicate to turn into the off-road gravel lay-by that they are in. A car is right behind me, and tries to overtake. I need to swing left, though, to get enough of a turn... It goes past, so I just turn off the road onto the gravel track.
I hear a grating metallic crunch then a splash of gravel being thrown up. I tentatively put my foot down, and the bus creaks like a tanker, metal groaning under tension. I hear the engine whine as it scatters stones across the lay-by. I look out the window and see Harry, Mark and Jasmine come running over. I decide I need to solve this quickly, and put it into reverse. The wheels spin but I don’t move. What is going on?
I jump out to look - the vehicle is very low on the lip of where the road meets the gravel. I go around to the other side and see - oh holy shit - the wheel is deep in the gravel, and the body of the bus is completely grounded on the road’s edge. Jesus.
Harry, being quick thinking has gone to the car and got the jack. He was thinking of jacking us up a bit, then... I don’t know what, because I was just thinking “Oh shit, I’ve completely wrecked a new bus! This must have ripped the exhaust off! How will we get this out?!” Meanwhile, a queue of traffic is appearing, as the bus is blocking most of the road.
Harry grabs the mats from the driver’s footwell and places them under the wheel to give a bit of traction. I go into the cab and put it in reverse, gently press the accelerator. The wheel rips the mats to shreds. I get back out. A few drivers slow, and ask if they can be of assistance, knowing that really they can’t be. But then I see a big 4x4 coming off one of the dirt tracks that I’d been turning in previously. I thought “Those are the sort of guys who can help.”
They pulled up a little past the van, and got out. Big, real man Icelandic Viking types. They look at the situation, look at us, and see that they are needed. Desperately. One opens their boot, and pulls out a heavy rope. He attaches it to our towbar (Thank God again for that towbar!) and returns to the driver’s seat. Mark says to Jasmine and Harry “Let’s film this” and they whip out their phones.
I put the van into neutral and remove the handbrake. He starts to drive until the rope is taut. Another one of them shouts over to me that I need to reverse too, so I put it into gear and start spinning the wheels. He then shouts to Harry, Jasmine and Mark that they need to push, so the phones go away and they run to the front of the van and start to lean into it with their shoulders, feet scrabbling in the gravel.
The back wheels of the van twist and lean in an unnatural angle as the 4x4 heaves and the van screams. It suddenly jumps in the air and smashes back down onto the road. I’m so relived that I put it into first and go to take off, before Jasmine shouts “No! You are still attached!” and the man takes the rope off, and I slope away, off to the proper turning point. One of the guys hugs Jasmine, then they pack up the rope and head on, off to save another bunch of English fools in their wild land.
A film by Mark Garvey
Inspired by Herman Melville's Moby Dick
Directed, written, produced, cinematography, music and editing by Mark Garvey
Co-produced by Simon Cleary
Additional cinematography and aerial cinematography by Harry Oxborrow
Post-production audio editing by Oliver Samuel
Featuring There is an Echo by The Ben Drake Collective
Starring Simon Cleary as Husband (Ahab)
And Jasmine Knight as Wife (Starbuck)