Filmmaking activists have kickstarted their campaign for a national debt write-off – by blowing up a van filled with £1.2 million-worth of payday loan debt in the world’s financial centre.
Dan Edelstyn and his colleagues featured in The Big Issue last year for their audacious The Bank Job plot to buy up distressed payday loan debt that was being sold on the secondary market.
The group even took over a former bank and renamed it the Hoe Street Bank in Walthamstow before printing banknote-like bonds and selling them off as artwork to in-effect pay off the debts.
But they completed their explosive finale on May 19 by blowing up the Ford Transit cash in transit van filled with the debt on Thameside waste ground with the City of London and Canary Wharf providing the backdrop, The revolutionary project is now set to be turned into a film.
“People loved it,” Dan told The Big Issue. “It was really beautiful as an installation with bits of the van all over the place. We had lots of positive comments – even the police enjoyed themselves!
“What we want to do is to use the film and the art as a tool to bring about a national debt write-off that is much bigger in scale so we see ourselves as part of that movement. That’s the bigger picture that we want to move towards.
“Other people doing banks and writing off money is a way of keeping up that pressure while we get the bigger project off the ground because that will have a real impact on people’s lives.”
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The explosion was billed Big Bang 2 in a nod to Margaret Thatcher’s sudden deregulation of the financial markets in 1986 – an act which Dan insists is still having an impact in the modern-day debt crisis.
The debris from the van will now be melted down and turned into commemorative coins for backers while the British Film Institute has come on board to back the film which Dan insists will be out this autumn.
And the charity’s input was key in ending a stand-off between police and Canary Wharf chiefs who were allegedly putting up roadblocks for the project, according to Dan.
“At first there was no objection at all – the policeman even told us that if it was Mission Impossible then there would be no problems at all,” he said. “Because it was political and had an agenda they started getting frightened of us. That’s what was scaring them, people writing about it, they didn’t want the negative attention.”