In his debut film, director-producer, James Rose, brings you a breath-taking account of how fear and bureaucracy can prevent good things from happening; but equally can be overcome through sheer determination and wit.
Featuring two taboo issues – poverty and disability – this film sidesteps the typical route of emotionally blackmailing audiences. Rather, it exposes the need for a more united society, suggesting that fear and the inherent bureaucracy blocks us from progressing. Like A Bat Out Of Hell cuts across several boundaries in trying to detangle our culture of fear whilst bringing something different to the screen.
James is a student at University College Falmouth in sunny Cornwall who just happens to have a ‘disability.’ He enjoys doing the usual student things – going out and having a good time! He and a friend, Michelle, who works at the Uni, decide to do a charity skydive for Canine Partners & Comic Relief.
Both charities have a special place in James’ heart. Canine Partners, a UK-based charity training assistance dogs, provided James with his dog, Nemo, for free. James now intends to pay something back by raising money to help the charity pay for another dog’s training, costing them £10,000.
James is also passionate about helping to reduce global poverty and inequalities. He is especially aware of the Malaria crisis in Africa and, as such, has always supported Comic Relief. James recently found out the shocking statistic that one child dies every thirty-seconds of Malaria in Africa. He feels this is so unjust and is adamant that he will support Comic Relief’s efforts to deliver the much-needed medication to these kids.
However, his skydiving dream suddenly comes crashing down. James’ doctor decides he is unable to sign his Student Tandem Parachutist Declaration after consulting the medical advisor at the British Parachute Association. This is due to fear about a possibility of James’ legs going into spasm – a concern that has materialised out of poor communication. The doctor is worried that James’ legs could straighten outwards upon landing, risking being broken. Here begins James’ three-year mammoth quest to prove to his doctor that he’s more than able to do a simple skydive!
Michelle, who previously skydived in New Zealand, now has to wait for James as he tries to convince his doctor that he can control his legs.
The story is told through a mix of diary footage, intermingled with breath-taking shots of James undergoing some of the most extreme tasks you’ll ever see! This includes flying in vertical wind tunnel, hanging out of a flying helicopter at 1000ft, being suspended from the roof of a dome at the Eden Project, and more! All this is encapsulated in fantastic imagery and amazing shots of the ground swirling beneath as James literally goes to great heights to achieve his goal.
The mix of comedy, laughter, and at times, sheer frustration will pull you into James’ battle through bureaucracy and fear whilst he attempts something which should be quite simple. With Nemo the assistance dog, together with James, both glancing at the camera every now and then with knowing looks, you will be consumed by James’ reality, experiencing all of the fun, drama, and intimacy of his mission.
High-drama is maintained throughout as James tracks his progress with the number of Malaria-related deaths on his calendar as they continue to rise. The death tolls are based on one child dying every thirty seconds in Africa of the disease during James’ quest.
Luckily, James finds a Tandem Skydive Master who agrees to help with securing the permission to jump. We soon realise the extent of the ridiculousness of James’ situation. After having just a ten-minute conversation with the Tandem Master, James gets the all-clear as being fit to jump. At this point, over one million seven-hundred thousand children have died of Malaria since James started his quest.
Once the Tandem Master contacts James’ doctor, the permission for James to jump is granted, and sponsorships come flooding in. But wait! The insanity doesn’t stop there – the weather now churns up a problem with gloomy skies hanging over jump day. Frowning foreheads and racing hearts abound as tension mounts and our skydiving heroes wait to see if the weather will give way and enable them to jump.
James and Michelle hang on, and on, until a break in the cloud means they can finally take to the skies to fulfil their longstanding dream. The total number of malaria-related deaths in the three years it has taken for James to reach this point is over three million. An array of colour starts bursting through the grey skies, finally allowing James and Michelle (with their instructors!) to take flight. After a nail-biting journey in the rickety plane, the moment arrives – they jump! They fly through the clouds of vapour like a thundering harrier jump jet hurtling towards the ground against the backdrop of a thundery-looking sky. James finally leaves the bureaucratic hell behind him as he gently floats down to the ground before making a perfect landing. Soon after, we see James delivering a very generous cheque to each of the charities.
By the end of the film, you’ll be consumed by a sudden awareness of self-empowerment, with the desire to go out there and knock down fear for the greater-good.
Like A Bat Out Of Hell, James Rose’ debut film, is an action-packed documentary that definitely won’t leave you up in the clouds!