After a 2019 premiere at South by Southwest, “Get Duked!” (formerly “Boyz in the Wood”) landed on Amazon Prime on Friday. The wild, genre-defying film follows a group of boys who find themselves on the run from a terrifying huntsman called The Duke alongside the strange inhabitants of the wilderness. The boys are in a camping competition where the goal is to escape the huntsman and win the “Duke of Edinburg Award.” The Daily Texan attended a virtual roundtable with the director of the film and music video producer Ninian Doff to discuss his first venture into feature filmmaking.
Daily Texan: How did your experience working on music videos influence your work on this feature film?
Ninian Doff: I love music videos. Eight or nine years ago, music videos started to have a second renaissance. Loads of really creative ideas started appearing. It became a really great place to experiment in storytelling. I made music videos but I rarely put the band in it, not in a traditional sense at least. I was able to play with three-act structures and different genres. That led to people taking a leap of faith to let me make a feature. When it came to making the film, instead of being ashamed of the music videos and saying ‘Now I’m a serious filmmaker,’ I wanted to write a love letter to the music videos and where they got me. Just continue, in a quite literal sense for people who watched it, my music video career into the film.
DT: Can you discuss any inspirations for the horror elements in the film like the eerie skin masks worn by the hunters?
ND: We actually made an entire old man sculpture of the original Duke (of Edinburg) and we cast him in resin so we could make multiple masks of his face. My whole backstory was that that was the first (killer) Duke, and everyone’s wearing a cast of his death mask. You don’t even realize it’s the same guys’ face. In terms of inspiration, it dances all over the place. There’s a scottish film from the 70’s called “The Wicker Man.” I saw it at a young age and it really creeped me out in a way I never could shake off, which is the best experience. And then I did have a mood board of the most insane looking horror tropes and masks and stuff. I just found this image (from the film “Curtains”) online of a woman chasing someone across the ice with a horrible old lady mask wielding a knife. I kept staring at this image.
Greta Chiocchetti (Art U News): How do you think audiences will receive the message (since the) times we are living in now are probably more fraught than when you were writing it?
ND: When I wrote this, a couple of years ago now, it was a response to Brexit in the UK and a certain president in America that’s currently around. This feeling of frustration and anger. There was a feeling of, ‘Will this date really fast?’ The depressing answer is that my film just kept becoming more and more relevant. 2020 has been a horrible, strange, confusing year. The beauty of (the film) coming out on Amazon is that it is literally global. To think (that in) every corner of the world, people (will be) able to watch this and both get lost in (it) and (have it) reflect a bit of the anger we are feeling in certain areas — it’s good timing in a bad time.