A film-maker hopes her documentary on the life and times of a Huddersfield eccentric will be broadcast worldwide on TV.
Michelle Heighway, 33, a former Huddersfield University media student, has produced a 60-minute show about Jake Mangel Wurzel.
Jake, of Lindley Moor, has been a prominent character in the town for more than three decades.
His bizarre exploits and oddball schemes in the 1980s and 1990s meant he was always in the media spotlight.
Now retired from his duties as a “professional eccentric”, Jake lives a quiet life.
But independent film-maker and photographer Michelle hopes to bring him back to prominence with her documentary Mr Somebody.
Jake, who famously married his dog, was often seen around town in a variety of wacky vehicles some emblazoned with campaign slogans or jokes, others loaded with toilet seats or bathtubs.
Never afraid to take on the establishment, Jake would take direct action for a cause he believed in.
Michelle, who also lives in Lindley, met Jake after spotting his red car with a toilet on top.
She first met him in 2008 and the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.
“I was intrigued by his lifestyle, his sense of freedom and his enigmatic character,” said Michelle.
“I wanted to find out more about him and he agreed I could film our chats. We did a series of interviews and we really got under eachother’s skin and he trusted me to tell me his story.”
Over the course of their friendship, Jake endured tragedy when his dog died and, in 2010, when his home at Peat Ponds, Salendine Nook, went up in flames destroying much of his life’s work.
Former lorry driver Jake, who served in the RAF, was married in his younger days but divorced shortly after his wife had their child.
Jake suffered severe depression and his bizarre new life helped bring him back from the brink.
“It’s a poignant story about how he has saved himself,” said Michelle. “Jake won’t go into his past because it’s too painful and he’s left that life behind but this is a great story about breaking down the boundaries on how we judge people.”
Michelle secured funding from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) based in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, and had expert help in editing the documentary and turning the film into broadcast quality.
A short taster was screened at a NFTS Film Clinic event at the Google UK HQ in London where representatives from the BBC and Channel 4 both expressed an interest.
“I would love for the film to be taken up and broadcast worldwide,” said Michelle. “It would be great for me and great for Jake. I think of him as family now.”
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