US film director Andrew Peat talks Scotch pre-QnA visit
by Margaret Chrystall
AMERICAN film director Andrew Peat has included familiar faces from the Highland whisky world in his documentary Scotch: The Golden Dram, which he will introduce at Wednesday’s preview screening at Eden Court in Inverness.
Andrew flew over for the European Premiere at Glasgow Film Festival at the weekend. And as well as the screening of the film in Inverness on Wednesday, Andrew will be there for a QnA. The film then goes to a week of screenings from Friday until Thursday, March 21in Inverness and also screens at Moray Playhouse, Elgin, from Friday too.
For Andrew – who has a grandfather from Glasgow - his first taste of Scottish whisky came as an exchange fellow studying history at St Andrew’s.
He said: “I’d heard about Scotch whisky but I had never had any so I walked intolocal liquor seller in St Andrew’s and told him ‘I’m here from America and have never had any, what would you suggest?’. So he gave me a half bottle of Glenmorangie 10-year-old.”
When Andrew later moved on to study documentary film-making at the University of Southern California, he returned to his love of whisky.
“One of the classes I took was to learn how to pitch our films to industry leaders and one of the ones I prepared was for this documentary about whisky. After I developed the pitch for the film I asked my classmate Arjun Kamath from India - who has a wonderful and unique eye as a cinematographer - if he would be interested in coming to Scotland and making this documentary and he said ‘Sure!’.”
The research and pre-production work took about six months, with a month of filming and interviews in Scotland before returning to Andrew’s base in southern China, where he combines film-making with teaching in a university TV and film and school.
Andrew said: “We had about 67 hours of footage which we had to cut down to about 85 minutes, so only two per cent of the film got into the final cut.
“Ninety-eight per cent ended up on the cutting room floor.
“The editing process went on for about 17 months and then we showed it to our film school friends to get their feedback.
“So the final version the audiences looking at now is cut 24!”
Andrew explained his aim in making the documentary.
“But the heart of the film is the people. You really see the pride and the passion and the joy they all had about their work.
“We have already taken the film to a lot of festivals in the United States and Canada and it has already opened in Australia and New Zealand and the audiences have really enjoyed the film.”
After the picture editing was done, sound editing and design followed with, finally, a week for the final sound mix at Skywalker ranch, George Lucas’s sound house in Northern California for what Andrew calls “a very high-quality professional sound mix”.
You could say that the attention to detail and quest for quality matches the story of Scottish whisky.
Andrew said: “I mean Scotch whisky takes time and with film too you have to be willing to take the time and the care and put the effort in!”
When making his film, among those Andrew talked to and features in the film are master blender Richard Paterson, The Dalmore; both Graham Eunson, current distillery manager at Tomatin Distillery, and retired manager Douglas Campbell; glassmaker, designer and company director Brodie Nairn of Glasstorm; Lyndsey Gray, bar manager of The Quaich Whisky Bar at the Craigellachie Hotel; Darren Morrison, foreman cooper at the Speyside Cooperage; and Kenneth Mackenzie, barley farmer with the Black Isle Growers.
The preview screening is at Eden Court on Wednesday, March 6 at 6.15pm followed by a QnA with director Andrew Peat. The film then returns to run from Friday, March 8 to Thursday, March 21. Check for screening times: www.eden-court.co.uk. Scotch: The Golden Dram will also be screening from Friday, March 8 at the Moray Playhouse, Elgin. For screening times, go to: www.caledoniancinemas.co.uk