Based on a true story, Changing Tides is a film about end-of-life alcoholism and finding hope in unexpected places.
The female character, Bea, is a young, cocky domestic carer who has better things to do with her time.
Aiden is bloated and yellowing, looking older than his age because he’s been lost at the end of a bottle for many years.
First they fight. Control is power.
But when the realities of alcoholism force Bea to be the caregiver Adien is forced to accept. This shifts their roles and instead of spoiling for war, they gradually bond over chips and sarcasm and fall into parent and child friendship.
Aiden vows to change, but it’s not that easy when you’ve been living drink to drink for so long. Stopping altogether in an uncontrolled environment can only make things worse. And it does.
First the psychosis. Then the fatal discovery when Bea arrives the next day.
Aiden is finally free from his self-imposed prison. Bea is on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Leaving his house for the last time, she realises there is hope.
He’s at peace. And she’s glad she knew him.
Why did I write Changing Tides?
I wrote Changing Tides because it’s a part of my life I’ve kept quiet for so many years, through shame and embarrassment.
Recently, I had an overwhelming impulse to address it. To finally try and understand it and not be afraid to tell people that’s what I lived through.
My dad was an alcoholic.
When I was 11, he had a heart attack. It turns out it was his third, the other two being undetected.
The hospital did further checks and told him he needed a triple bypass, which he had. The next part is factually a bit sketchy because Dad told us his version of the story, and as with all alcoholics, we can never be sure if that’s the actual truth. Whatever happened, he went from working as a taxi operator and potato delivery man to not working at all.
In a way, I think he was happy not to work. Being verbally abused in taxi ranks and lugging hauls of potatoes to chippies around Blackpool aren’t exactly lifelong ambitions. But removing work and having nothing else leaves a hole. You lose your sense of purpose.
As the years passed, Dad fell deeper and deeper into drink.
It killed him at the young age of 58.
He changed from a doting, loving father to a man I didn’t know. And now, after all this time, I wanted to know why.
Trying to understand
I don’t hate my dad. But I didn’t understand him. I didn’t understand why he would always choose alcohol over me. How he could be loving and hilarious one minute and incredibly mean the next? How he could go from a hard-working gentleman to someone who looked homeless with a roof over his head? Why he wasted his talented and brilliant life? And was it all my fault?
He died 16 years ago, so I can’t ask him these questions. He wouldn’t have been sober enough to answer them anyway. I needed to find another way.
When my emotions are high, I write poetry. It’s funny but I find verse a great way to attempt to make sense of things. When I feel overwhelmed the words fall out of me and onto the page. Then I somehow muster up the courage to perform it at open mic nights and that’s normally that, but this one stayed with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I decided to write a script.
Writing a script means you delve deeper into character analysis; why do they act the way they do and what do they desire and fear? I removed myself from the story and made the female character in her early 20s, so I could look at it objectively and better understand his choices, and ultimately mine. Did my actions provoke it? Or was there something else driving him to act this way? It was the therapy I didn’t know I needed.
It wasn't my fault
I could finally see my dad as a human—an imperfect human, just like me. Instead of wearing childlike glasses and still thinking parents should be some kind of superhero, I could see him as a flawed, troubled man with demons he couldn’t control.
I could also see it wasn’t my fault. It never had been. As a child, I took it personally because I didn’t know better. I wanted his love and attention and when I didn’t get that I thought I’d caused it. Now, as an adult with my own flaws and demons, I understand. He loved me in his own troubled way.
You are not alone
Finding out there are an estimated 2.6 million children in the UK living with an alcoholic parent was shocking. As a child of an alcoholic, you feel so alone, yet there are a staggering number of children in the same position. Just imagine how many there are around the world. If they don’t talk about it and find a way to remove the stigma and shame, those children grow into adults like me, with millions of questions and unresolved trauma.
My film is for those adults, young and old. And it’s for the alcoholics too. There’s no finger-pointing or blame in my story, just troubled souls trying to understand themselves and the world they live in.
If I can make just one of those adults feel seen by watching this film, I’ll be happy.
Changing Tides will have a limited cinema release before an exclusive run at film festivals for approximately one year. After that, it will be made available on streaming platforms.
Saturday 21 September - 19.30 screening (doors at 19.00) at The Regent Cinema, Blackpool – the *premiere* screening of Changing Tides
Sunday 8 October – 12.00 at Cultplex, Manchester
Thursday 19 October, 20.00 at ArtHouse Cinema, London
General release tickets go on sale on 1st September. Full details can be found here: https://www.thisishouseoftales.com/screenings
Talk to someone
If you are in the UK and have been affected by a parent’s drinking take a look at the amazing Nacoa website, which is full of resources, research and stories. There's even a free confidential helpline if you want to speak to someone.
If you are not in the UK search the internet for your local support groups.
You are not alone.