Dean, Duncan, and DJ Beatroot are teenage pals from Glasgow who embark on the character-building camping trip — based on a real-life program — known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, where foraging, teamwork and orienteering are the order of the day. Eager to cut loose and smoke weed in the Scottish Highlands, the trio finds themselves paired with strait-laced Ian, a fellow camper determined to play by the rules. After veering off-path into remote farmland that’s worlds away from their urban comfort zone, the boys find themselves hunted down by a shadowy force hell-bent on extinguishing their futures. From writer-director Ninian Doff — making his feature debut after a slew of award-winning music videos and short films for artists including Run the Jewels, The Chemical Brothers, Miike Snow, Migos, and Mykki Blanco — comes an anarchic satire of generational politics, hip-hop-loving farmers and hallucinogenic rabbit droppings that pits the youth of tomorrow against the status quo of yesterday. Get Duked! stars Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, Georgie Glen, James Cosmo, and a breakout young cast featuring Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, and Lewis Gribben.
Get Duked will be available on Amazon Prime Video on August 28th, 2020!
Check out some highlights from the Q&A with Writer and Director Ninian Doff:
The title of the film was originally Boyz in the Wood. Why was it called that and why did you decide to change it?
When I wrote the script my goal was to mix American popular culture with the Scottish Highlands, a place that in movies is usually accompanied by violins and bagpipes. I grew up in Edinburgh, which is like something out of a Harry Potter film, with castles and medieval buildings. But as a teenager, I was walking around there listening to East Coast and West Coast rap. It felt more honest to me that a film about teenagers would be set to hip-hop rather than folk or classical music. I wanted the title to reflect that dichotomy and Boyz in the Wood was sort of a fun pun on an iconic film that implied that clash between American and Scottish cultures. But a year later, with the passing of John Singleton and the awareness of the BLM movement, using the title Boyz in the Woods didn’t feel respectful. Get Duked! was always our working title, and we felt it was better to return to that.
What is the significance of the phrase “Get Duked!”?
The boys in our film are in the Highlands as part of a real-life program called the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is kind of like Scouts. The film is actually somewhat autobiographical in that I went on one of these camping trips with my friends when I was a teenager. On their hike, they find themselves hunted by a demonic duke, and “Get Duked!” is the phrase they chant as they fight back against this aristocrat and his cronies. It’s like an invented slang term that essentially means screw the system, screws the overbearing authority, and take charge of yourself. I like that it’s a phrase people can use after watching the film.
How would you describe the main characters?
There’s no everyman character; they each come with their own unique eccentricities. Dean comes from a poorer background and he’s very clear about his expectations of life. He wants to go on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to smoke weed because he knows he’ll soon be going to work in a factory. Duncan, played by Lewis Gribben, thinks on a different level from everyone else, and because of that, he has been pigeonholed by the education system as stupid. But out of everyone in the group, Duncan is the one who is most likely to wind up a millionaire because he’s so abstract-thinking, so left-field.
Then there’s DJ Beatroot, who was a really fun character to develop. Teenage life is so much about identity and DJ has entirely faked his by moving countries and moving schools. After arriving in Scotland from England he decides to say he’s this street kid from the South London council estates who has become a hip-hop star. But what unfolds is that he’s really a posh kid from London named William Debeauvois. He’s desperately fronting while trying to work out who he is in the world. Finally, there’s Ian, the outsider in their group. I thought, who’s the worst person that could join up with these boys? Someone who wanted to do the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award correctly! Ian wants to go camping and do everything by the book. He’s very wholesome and thorough, placed alongside three kids who don’t even know how to read a map and just want to get high.
The prologue to your movie is a mock advertisement for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, encapsulating the visual aesthetic of some of your earlier works. Why did you choose to open the film that way?
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a completely real thing, a quarter of a million teenagers in Britain and Australia go on it every year. But many people, particularly in America, have never heard of it. The audience needs to be told this, but I wanted to present it in a fun and playful way, so I came up with this retro VHS aesthetic. If you look closely though, there are also little jokes and Easter eggs that reveal through hints and foreshadowing what’s going to happen in the movie. The passage has a sort of kitsch 1940s feel to it, filled with these wonderful, wholesome children embarking on their camping trip. Then there’s a hard cut into a present-day classroom, where we meet the actual boys who go on the journey.