Jan is a renowned distance runner whose marathon achievements have seen her win multiple world titles. She lives a quiet, stoic existence in North Yorkshire where she has trained all her life. Yet upon falling pregnant after a late retirement from competitive racing, a difficult pregnancy period has ended in miscarriage that has left the normally tough-minded Jan reeling. Late one night down a narrow country road, her close friend Alun encounters Jan doing the only thing she knows: training hard. Yet her friend’s warnings about her physical and mental wellbeing go ignored, and Jan resumes her run, disappearing in to the night. Now with no athletics to fall back on, Jan instead withdraws in to herself and denies any acknowledgement of what she’s been through. Repeated attempts by friends and her coach only lead her to weaving ever more complicated tales that she gradually struggles to break from. With a series of talks planned on her acclaimed career, Jan throws herself back in to her training, pushing her body to its limit until it finally breaks. Fatigued and emotionally drained, Jan breaks down before a packed audience, realising just how vulnerable her situation is and confronting it head on.
The Denial of Peter is perhaps one of the most interesting character studies in the Bible. Fragments of references throughout the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John paint a picture of a strong-willed individual who discovers and then looses the one anchor in his life which provides meaning and purpose. Upon Jesus’ arrest Peter is confronted three times to confirm his links with Christ which he repeatedly denies. The Weight of Clay takes this period of loss and subsequent denial as its starting point. Exploring the vulnerability and fear behind Jan’s refusal to both accept help and confront her own emotional turmoil at the point of her own anchor disappearing. The film also draws from the wider characterisation of Peter in all four Gospel books which depict a charismatic character who is not afraid to confront and question his leader, defend his beliefs, and perhaps even began, in his own words, as “a sinful man”. He is one of the most human and fragile characters in the Bible, and it is this that The Weight of Clay seeks to explore through Jan who negotiates the difficult and often little explored emotional impact of miscarriage.