Jason, Cutty Sark, a film, a fort and a spirit of adventure

Another great guest blog from the handsome and talented Jason ‘Turbo’ Thomson:

There I was good reader. I had finally finished my first article for EWB and was rather proud of myself. Not only had I managed to review the 10 whiskies on offer but I had avoided the temptation to build a fort out of the boxes that I had just used to move into a lovely new flat (I did build it later though. I then lived in it until my girlfriend destroyed it while I was at work as it had taken over both our own and the neighbours flat). Sadly fort-less but happy with what I had managed to cobble together for the two gents here in charge I opened an email, attached the file and clicked it away. With nothing else to occupy my time I started plans on a new secret fort.

Everyone was happy! The article was acceptable and I was rewarded for my efforts. A trip to a film premiere, no less! Meeting Chris outside the Rutland Hotel I must say that we were both looking rather dapper. Those that know us will be aware that, for Chris, dapper is nothing out of the ordinary. My usual dress sense is that of a hobo-lumberjack so dapper was new and exciting for me. That being said- so was the whole evening. I adore films as much or maybe even more than I adore whisky. To read about the evening’s activities pop back and read Chris’ take on things.


(Looking dapper-ish)

Now if you remember Chris’ article all the way back in June you’ll remember that the film and shin-dig before were presented by the good people at Cutty Sark. Hence the whisky interest of this post. Cutty Sark have joined up with the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) which is the company behind the Edinburgh International Film festival (EIFF). Not only have they agreed to “significant investment” in the EIFF but have launched a competition that, I’ve got to say, got my thoughts going.
Over the next year (yes a whole year!) Cutty Sark have launched a short film competition with the EIFF. The winner will not only get to watch their film at the EIFF 2012 but will be given £5,000 to “develop part of their on-going global visual communications for the brand.” What is needed is to make a short film that is between 60- 90 seconds long that captures “the spirit of adventure”. You can read more about the competition here.

So what exactly does the “spirit of adventure” mean to you? Cutty Sark as a brand has a rich swashbuckling tradition still represented by the iconic tall ship on the bottle’s label. Building its reputation during prohibition in America as a high quality bootlegged spirit it became one of the biggest whisky brands in the world. It has brought us such terms as “The real McCoy” (after the man who smuggled it across the pond, Captain Bill McCoy, who never tampered with the cargo he carried maintaining its quality). It has also featured in many main stream films over the years (Goodfellas sprang to mind when this was put to me but it comes up a lot more than just that). Adventure is seeping out of it!


(If this doesn’t say adventure, I don’t know what does. This ad was done by far more talented people than me. Uber cool)

When I first heard what they wanted for this short film I think my mind was pushed towards the obvious connections to the brand. I imagined a long shot of a battered pirate ship cutting through the foam of a crystal clear blue sea. A slow zoom in to reveal an even more battered Captain with one eye and one leg steering the ship with a determined will. His crew look up at him with a clear respect that has been earned and not given…

It’s here that annoying part of my brain kicked in to stop me with a few minor points:

  • I did not have £1,000,000 or a spare pirate ship to make this film with.
  • The damn thing was only to be 90 seconds long! Not an epic the size of Lord of the rings
  • That while I was thinking this I had managed to ignore the important brand rep that had kindly started a conversation with me and now because of the blank look on my face clearly thought that I was some sort of simpleton.

So I continued on with the evening and let my thoughts settle into that part of the brain that’s a bit like a slow cooker. Since then I have been thinking a lot about what sort of things you could capture on film to fit with the spirit of adventure. I honestly believe it can encompass anything. For some people an adventure entails planning a trek around the Arctic Circle. For others it might mean that first trip to the shop down the road after a hip replacement. There are so many little things that can be seen as adventures that happen to us every single day that are within the budget and scale of a 90 second short film. That’s the way I’m thinking of it just now anyway. I have a basis of an idea but with working around films sets I know that any idea that you may have will have to be flexible. Film making is a hugely collaborative product and cannot be done alone.

After some nudging from those close to me I am going to attempt to enter this competition. Right now its early days but I do have an idea. Whether that works or not we’ll have to see. I will need help here and I’d like to see this as an Edinburgh Whisky Blog project. I’d love it if some of you would like to get involved and help this along. We’ll need everything from cameras, locations, cast, crew and whole lot more. But don’t let that stop you from going ahead and trying this yourself with your own idea! What do you see when someone throws a blank piece of paper at you and says “Now capture the spirit of Adventure!”? I think Cutty Sark have really pulled one out the bag here for the company and for up and coming film makers. They get to promote an already famous brand while whole new batch of young talent try out their skills. It’s win-win really.

I’ll try and keep regular updates on the blog of how the film is progressing (I’m going to guess that’ll be slowly). In the mean time I’ll leave you with the visions of tall ships and desert islands. I need to go now. I have a Fort to defend…


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