Richard Jobson presents to us, through Tartan Films, a poignant, dramatic, and ultimately sad tale of love, abuse, apathy, and hope in his new film “16 Years of Alcohol”. Now available for the first time in the United States, “16 Years” is an extremely well-made drama based on a book written by the filmmaker years earlier. Semi-autobiographical, the story centers on Frankie Mac, a Scottish hood who is so used to violence and anger as a way of life that when he meets the beautiful Mary, it’s almost unattainable for him to have a normal relationship with her, and the possibilities of romance, solace, and peace become unattainable.
When describing the plot of his film, Jobson says, “It’s a story about my brother and I when we were growing up…and it’s a story about hope, and how hope becomes love. I love stories about the guy who runs to make the gold medal but loses right at the end. I love those types of film. My next two films have similar themes…”
Richard Jobson is not only a film critic and film journalist in the U.K., but he’s also the ex-lead singer of a punk band called The Skids. In his earlier incarnation Jobson was quite wild, violent, and aggressive towards the world, but as the years have passed he’s learned to express himself through film rather than hostility. As a film critic, he might have a different perspective on what makes a good independent film.
“I think that’s a very difficult question to answer without sounding pompous or arrogant…I think after 20 some odd years as a journalist I’ve learned a lot about filmmaking”
With technology being what it is today, it’s easy for anyone with a few dollars to rent a camera, film their friends sitting on the couch, and call it a film.
“Like music, nowadays anybody has the technology to make a film. But just because you can put out an album doesn’t mean you can write a good song”.
Jobson has done exactly the opposite while still maintaining the integrity of his independence in cinema. In fact, he had many offers from others to turn his story (it was originally a book he wrote in 1986) into a film, but he turned them all down. It wasn’t until he was given the option to direct it himself that he actually went ahead and made the movie, preserving with it his original vision. This sounds nuts to anyone sitting in Hollywood with a script they can’t sell, but to Jobson, the film was going to be good, or it wasn’t going to be at all.
“ I wanted it to have a lyrical and poetic quality. I think the U.K and the U.S. are scared of poetry in film, sometimes.”
Because he is Scottish, most people immediately equate “16 Years of Alcohol” with “Trainspotting”. It is set in Scotland, in Edinburgh, and revolves around the lives of young and seriously depraved human beings who ultimately search for harmony in their hectic world. The star of the film, Kevin McKidd, is a Scottish actor who starred in the indie horror werewolf masterpiece “Dog Soldiers” and in the film “Trainspotting” itself. It’s easy to see, with so few films coming out of Scotland, especially independent films, that “16 years of Alcohol” would be compared with Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting” (Boyle also directed the U.K. indie horror masterpiece “28 Days Later”).
“Danny Boyle is a great filmmaker. I have much respect for him. However, I wouldn’t say I’ve been influenced in any way by him.”
His film, is however, heavily influenced by other filmmakers, like Stanley Kubrick. The imagery, pace, and storytelling in “16 years” is reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange” in many ways. The music, the young thugs acting out in violent ways, and the inner turmoil all seem to stem from the same place that Kubrick found his inspiration; frustration, anger, and a loss of faith.
With the success of “16 Years of Alcohol”, Jobson has gone on to direct two more films. Though his film credits include three previous movies where he acted as producer, “The Purifiers” and “A Woman in Winter” are his directorial follow-ups. These two stories, absolutely nothing like “16 Years of Alcohol”, and absolutely nothing like each other, are examples of Jobson’s view of filmmaking in general.
“Most filmmakers make the same film over and over again. I am so excited about doing something different.”
“A Woman in Winter” will feature both English and French, making it an odd addition to the foreign film genre. It’s also a drama, and a love story. “The Purifiers” is a completely different idea in filmmaking from what Jobson delivers in “16 years”. It’s a martial arts/action film (Jobson also sites Hong Kong action flicks as a serious influence, and in fact, his favorite type of film) about city dwellers that have to fight to protect their ability to practice martial arts in a crime-free city. Ideally, next for Jobson is a hit man flick.
“A hit man movie set in London… You’ve know, there’s never been a good hit man movie set in London? Can you believe it?”