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A documentary exploring the untold story of whisky and how it intertwines with Scottish culture.
A documentary exploring the untold story of whisky and how it intertwines with Scottish culture.
233 backers pledged £43,576 to help bring this project to life.

About

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The Amber Light is a documentary exploring the past and present of whisky in Scotland and the wildly creative spheres of art, music, literature and food that whirl around it. It is a collaboration between The Gannet, an online magazine exploring people’s lives through food and drink, London-based video agency blueprint.tv, and the world-renowned spirits writer Dave Broom.

After interviewing him earlier in the year, we realised there’s a much greater – and weirder – story to tell about whisky and the culture around it (music and storytelling will be key components here).

Check out our teaser!

What Is It About? 

In this road movie through the lesser-known parts of Scottish whisky culture, we follow world-renowned spirits writer Dave Broom on his quest to reconnect with, and gain a deeper understanding of, his national drink. Dave, who grew up in Glasgow, has been writing about spirits for decades, but whisky is his particular passion and a subject on which he has many strong opinions. This film will trace his journey back to the roots of whisky and show that there’s always more to learn about this singular spirit. 

He will speak to key innovators and thinkers in the whisky world – farmers, distillers, bar owners, historians – exploring the unsung role of women in distilling and blending over the centuries; the influence of alchemists, medicine men and botanists; the evolution of spirits from medicine to social lubricants. We’ll look at teetotalism and temperance, smugglers, Dante’s inferno, and the use of unexpected ingredients in whisky’s development, such as saffron.

The film is also fascinated by the wider culture of whisky, and along the way we’ll encounter artists, writers, chefs, poets and musicians who owe a debt – and perhaps a curse – to whisky’s elemental power.

Over the years, whisky has been swallowed up by the ‘heritage racket’. It’s preserved behind glass rather than alive. It speaks of a false past rather than an awkward but dynamic present and future. In The Amber Light, we will unpick the accepted whisky mythology and reclaim the more interesting – and weirder – stories underneath. The film will be funny, offbeat and full of surprises. 

The story of whisky has been told many times but this film takes a different view, showing how it has been shaped by geology and climate, by tales told on the side of the road, in the corners of pubs. Whisky is a product of folk tale and myth, of music and alchemy. Of chance rather than design. This is the twisting, shifting and multi-layered tale we’re telling in The Amber Light.

Illustration by Chris Bianchi
Illustration by Chris Bianchi

Where Will The Film Take Us? 

The Amber Light is a gloriously offbeat road trip through the wilds of Scottish whisky – though we’ll also travel by water, rail, air and any other mode of transport that suggests itself along the way.

Our journey will take us from Glasgow to Islay, the smoky heart of Scotch. From there, we’ll head north to Craigellachie, where we’ll tell whisky’s story through its bars and its ever-changing landscape. Travelling down through Dundee, we’ll arrive at Fife, with its rich musical community, and its forward-thinking distillers. Then it’s on to Edinburgh, and the dark heart of the Scottish soul.

The film will also take us through time, from the monks of Lindores to the steelworkers in Glasgow, the shorelines and mountains giving way to factories and inner-city pubs.

We'll investigate how whisky interweaves through Scottish culture in literature, music, food; how it's not only a social lubricant, but also a social glue. So, accompanying Dave on different parts of this journey will be a broad range of personalities from the worlds of music, literature, poetry, food and whisky. We're building up a fantastic list of contributors, which we'll announce as the campaign develops.

Who's making this film?

This documentary is a collaboration between renowned spirits writer Dave Broom and online food & drinks magazine The Gannet, with contributions from a wider circle of like-minded filmmakers, writers, musicians and artists – all united by a shared love of whisky.

'The Gannet is a charming observer of food and drink. A joy.’ Fergus Henderson, St. John

‘Knowledge, integrity, and passion: these are the three words that best describe Dave Broom.’ John Hansell, Publisher and Editor, Whisky Advocate Magazine

Dave Broom: Writer
Dave is a Glaswegian who has been writing about spirits for a over a quarter of a century and is recognised around the world as one of the pre-eminent authorities on whisky. He’s written over a dozen books, was the 2013 IWSC Communicator of the Year, is a Master of the Quaich and a Kentucky Colonel. His latest book, 'The Way of Whisky: A Journey Around Japanese Whisky' was published by Mitchell Beazley and won the prestigious André Simon John Avery award.   

Adam Park: Director 
Adam is a co-founder of both The Gannet and London video agency Blueprint. He is a filmmaker with over 15 years experience as a director and producer, alongside the editorial food & drink content of The Gannet. He has over 50 broadcast & online production credits including documentaries (short & long-form), commercials and branded content.

Henrietta Norton: Producer 
A co-founder of Hot Feet Films, Hen has directed and produced documentaries for organisations such as The Guardian and The New York Times. Her debut feature documentary ‘Born and Reared’ was released in 2016. Telling the story of 4 men living with the legacy of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the film just completed a successful global festival run.

Dan Dennison: Director of Photography
Dan is a photojournalist and award winning filmmaker. He has worked in both documentary and commercial worlds for the last 10 years, and was the DoP for Hen's 'Born and Reared'. As a DoP, Dan has also shot films for VICE, BBC, The Guardian and The New York Times. 

Christoph Bauschinger: Composer & music editor 
Christopher's work has been featured on over 50 feature films to date. He has worked with a diverse range of artists and filmmakers, including Hans Zimmer, AR Rahman, Richard Curtis and Tom Hooper. Christoph has developed a unique style, embracing all aspects of composition, performance and production. 

Schedule

We'll be filming over the course of the summer of 2018: June, July and August. 

Early cuts and screenings will take place in November, with the final cut expected no later than January 2019. 

 

Risks and challenges

As experienced filmmakers, we know what it takes to bring projects like this to completion. We also fully understand the kinds of pitfalls that can get in the way, and how to avoid them.

We believe we have mitigated risk by meticulously crafting our plan, and building an accurate scope of the work - covering everything from scouting and securing locations, interviewees, equipment rental, and so on.

Film is a hugely collaborative process - many people working together toward a singular goal. There is a lot of pride already in having assembled an incredibly talented and dedicated team, both on screen and off.

In addition to funds from Kickstarter, we plan to pursue in-kind donations and grants.

If you have any questions or comments, please get in contact - we'd love to hear from you. Thank you for your support!

Our goal is to premiere the finished film by January 2018, so we're charging full-steam ahead!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $35

    The angel's share

    A big thank you from the team! You will receive a digital download of the film when it's available, and a set of postcards featuring photographs from the film.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $70

    A wee dram

    A big thank you from the team, the film to download, your name in the credits, and a print of the film poster.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $140

    The highball

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the poster signed by Dave and key team members, and a limited-edition Amber Light-branded Glencairn glass.

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    Pledge £150 or more About $210

    The scotch and soda

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, and an 'Amber Light' t-shirt with the poster illustration.

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    Pledge £200 or more About $280

    The Lagavulin and coke

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, and the t-shirt. Also, you'll be invited to a screening in London, Edinburgh or Glasgow. If there's enough interest in your area of the UK or Ireland, we will endeavour to arrange one nearby!

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    Pledge £250 or more About $350

    The hauf & hauf

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, the screening for you and a guest, and a unique polaroid shot as part of a series by Christina Kernohan on location, signed by the team.

    www.christinakernohan.com

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    Pledge £500 or more About $700

    A nip, a toot, and a tot

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, the t-shirt, a set of 5 LUXE card images from the shoot, and an A2 giclée print of the Amber Light illustration, in your choice of colourway, signed by the illustrator Chris Bianchi and numbered. Also included is an invitation to a special gala screening in London with cast and crew!

    www.chrisbianchi.co.uk

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    Pledge £500 or more About $700

    A nip, a toot, and a tot mkII

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, the t-shirt, a set of 5 LUXE card images from the shoot, and 12x18” giclée Fine Art archival print photograph (signed limited edition of 5, from 5 options chosen by Christina) . Also included is an invitation to a special gala screening in London with cast and crew!

    www.christinakernohan.com

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,401

    The water of life

    The thank you, the download, the credit, the signed poster, the glass, the t-shirt, the gala screening plus two tickets to a special 'Amber Light' tasting event hosted by Dave Broom, with tastings and surprises galore.

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    Pledge £2,000 or more About $2,801

    Aqua vitae

    The water of life, plus, come and visit us in the edit. You'll be the first to see the broad assemblies and how the film is progressing and will be kept in regular correspondence with the producer and director.

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    Pledge £4,000 or more About $5,602

    Uisge beatha

    Aqua vitae, plus you or your organisation will be credited as an associate producer. We'll also take you out to lunch! You and a guest will have lunch with Dave and key team members at Quo Vadis in London during a key phase of the production schedule to discuss progress and sample the amber nectar.

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    Pledge £7,993 or more About $11,194

    The whole cask

    Uisge beatha, but instead of an associate producer credit, you or your organisation will be credited as executive producers on the film. We'll also arrange a special 'Amber Light' evening for you and your friends, in your home town (travel expenses are not included).

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Funding period

- (31 days)