In the 1960s the Cold War was at its height.
Cuba was an outpost of the Soviet Union, just 60 miles off the coast of Florida.
In fact, in 1962, World War Three nearly started there when America spotted soviet missiles ready to be launched.
The US blockaded Cuba and threatened to sink any ships trying to get through.
So in the 1960s, relations were at an all-time low.
Cuba became a good place to escape to, for asylum seekers, criminals, etc.
It was not uncommon to hijack a plane and demand to be flown to Cuba.
Between 1960 – 67, 19 American planes were hijacked and flown to Cuba.
In 1968 alone, 24 planes were hijacked.
So it wasn’t a total surprise when Eastern Airlines flight 10, from Boston to Miami, was hijacked.
It was February 3rd 1969 when two men took out large knives and held them to the stewardesses’ throats.
The captain came on the loudspeaker and asked everyone to stay calm.
He said they had been hijacked and were headed for Cuba.
But before anyone could panic they heard laughter from the front passenger section.
The passengers in the middle and rear wanted to know what there was to laugh about.
Then word got back.
Someone had spotted Alan Funt in one of the front seats, this was all a prank.
Alan Funt was the front man for Candid Camera.
The show that was massive hit at the time.
Millions and millions of people tuned in every week, it was unmissable TV.
Alan Funt would scare someone half to death, then reveal it was a hoax as he pointed to the hidden camera and said “Smile – you’re on Candid Camera”.
But this time he’d been spotted before he could pull the stunt.
Alan Funt protested of course – this wasn’t a stunt, he kept repeating.
But of course no one believed him.
All anyone wanted to know was where he had hidden the camera, so they could wave to their relatives.
Everyone was laughing because he’d been caught out.
They were still laughing a few hours later when the plane landed in Cuba.
And they found it wasn’t a stunt at all.
Alan Funt, his wife and two children, happened to be in the plane on their way to a holiday in Miami.
They’d been hijacked just like everyone else.
All 93 passengers and crew had to wait on the tarmac in Cuba for 11 hours, until the Boeing 727 was ready to return to the USA.
By that time no one was laughing.
What I love about this story is that people will interpret what they see on television as more real than actual reality.
They are clearly in an aeroplane being hijacked: they’re on a high-risk route, they’ve seen two men with knives, the captain has told them they’re being hijacked.
But one sight of a famous TV personality overrides everything.
Because they live most of their lives through TV, so that’s their reality.
And that my friends is our place of work, that’s our audience.
Not Cannes, or The Sundance Film Festival, or the Oscars, or the Tate Modern.
We do not produce work solely for the intellectual and cultural elite.
But that is who most of us think our work is aimed at.
And that’s why most of what we do is invisible to ordinary people.
Because we don’t want to know what the real audience actually cares about.