Bottoms up Brits and cheers to alcohol education – interview with Arthur Cauty, director of Royal Hangover documentary.
Football? No…Then maybe cricket? Not at all. Then what is Brit’s favorite sport these days? No doubt the booze race… Great Britain, the homeland of William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and the Beatles is in trouble. About the scale of the drinking problem in UK and film making challenges of associating with intoxicated people, we talked to Arthur Cauty – director of feature documentary A Royal Hangover.
FMB. You’ve made a documentary about drinking problem in UK. How is UK different from other countries in terms of over-drinking?
A.C. I think drinking can cause problems everywhere, let me make that clear – this is definitely not a problem specific to the UK. But I do think that alcohol is perhaps more embedded in British culture than in many other countries. For us Brits, it’s a crutch, an excuse, a social lubricant, a medicine, an enabler. It’s an integral part of our economy, and a huge part of our heritage.
FMB. Why was it important for you to make this documentary? Is this a personal film for you?
A.C. This film really was a personal journey for me, as someone who doesn’t drink, or even really understand the appeal of alcohol, to attempt to get to the bottom of it all. The question of why we all go out every night of the week and drink ourselves to oblivion is something that really fascinates and baffles me.
It’s also an attempt to shed some light on what is essentially a public health crisis which nobody seems to be taking seriously. The general attitude seems to be that, alcohol is legal, therefore it’s not even really a proper drug, and so we can drink as much of it as we like. It’s certainly not seen in the same light as heroin, or even drugs like cannabis, which are arguably less dangerous than alcohol. There’s a serious lack of support for people suffering from alcohol dependency, with more of a focus on illegal drugs. This really needs to change, and hopefully A Royal Hangover will take us one step closer to that goal.
FMB. A Royal Hangover contains interviews with specialists from different fields, who have encountered the problem of alcohol abuse. What was their reaction to the film concept?
A.C. We managed to secure an impressive cast, from A-list celebrities such as Russell Brand to the controversial Professor David Nutt, who was infamously sacked from his position of Chief Drugs Advisor to the UK Government. We have historians, scientists, doctors and health specialists, charities, law enforcement and addicts.
We wanted to create a film which would stand apart from the sensationalist reporting around alcohol in the media, and the typical “Booze Britain” programmes you see on the TV which do little but glamourize this shameful part of our culture. Because of this fresh approach to the topic, and the fact that there?s really no other film out there tackling the issue in this way, everyone was really keen to get involved.
FMB. Does A Royal Hangover gives the solution to the drinking problem or is it more like an observation of the problem itself?
A.C. A Royal Hangover is more than an observation, it’s a complete dissection of a nation consumed by alcohol. We look at everything from science to politics, religion to education, history to advertising and marketing, and how they all influence our culture when it comes to drinking.
Alcohol is never going to go away, and the aim of the film was never to do that. But we do suggest ways we could improve things through things like advertising and marketing restrictions, government policies, and generally just greater awareness of alcohol and the problems it can cause people and society, with the aim of helping individuals transition towards a healthier attitude towards drinking.
FMB. What is Britain’s favorite drink these days?
A.C. I have absolutely no idea. There’s the old saying “beer and Britannia”. But from the people I have spoken to and filmed with, I would say that for the vast majority of British people, it is not the taste, or the actual drink itself, it’s the alcohol they are interested in. We drink to get drunk, so what you drink isn’t important, it’s the drug inside it we are after.
FMB. What was the biggest challenge from cinematographic point of view?
A.C. Capturing decent footage, filming on poorly lit streets outside nightclubs in the early hours of the morning, while trying to remain fairly inconspicuous is always going to be difficult. Especially when you’re focusing on the intoxicated and inebriated. You tend to get hugged and kissed a lot, by random people you’ve never met. They will run up to you and grab your camera or stroke your microphone, or scream in your face and be sick on your shoe. On occasion they will threaten you, or even physically attack you. So you’ve got that going on, whilst bouncers and club owners try to intimidate you, or scare you away from their premises, they assume you’re trying to single them out, and they don’t want to be associated with anything negative that could harm their trade, which is understandable, but their trade harms thousands of people every year, and that’s something that needs to be seen. You’ve got people fighting around you, and kebabs exploding on the floor in front if you like meaty grenades. You have to kind of expect these things though, with the nature of this film. Every night was a challenge. And we were lucky not to get seriously hurt on more than one occasion.
FMB. Where and when we will be able to see A Royal Hangover?
A.C. A Royal Hangover is set to premiere in Los Angeles at the Sunscreen Film Festival, 10th – 12th October 2014. Further screenings are to announced in the US, UK, Europe and elsewhere.
FMB. Thank you Arthur, good luck with Royal Hangover premiere and festival round up.
See a Royal Hangover trailer and get in touch on Twitter (@aroyalhangover) and Facebook (facebook.com/aroyalhangover) for all the latest screening and broadcast. dates.