Originally published by (Re)Search my Trash, 16 October 2015
One movie is kept in total darkness for the most part, the other is overflowing with pictures inspired by dreams, silent cinema and (distorted) Biblical stories alike … well, I just had to talk to Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais, directors of Black Sun and The Kingdom of Shadows.
MICHAEL: Your two upcoming films Black Sun and The Kingdom of Shadows – in a few words, what are they going to be about?
DANIEL & CLARA: These two films are totally unique, not your usual cinematic experience. They will dance across the screen like dreams, fragments of stories and characters will emerge but there is no plot in the conventional sense, each viewer will have a personal experience and interpretation of the films.
Black Sun is about a woman who has always lived in a role of service to the men in her life. One day she has had enough, she leaves home and starts walking. As she walks the sun sets and she wanders in the dark, and as she wanders all the suppressed thoughts and feelings bubble to the surface and consume her.
The Kingdom Of Shadows blends fragments of dreams with the biblical myths of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel. It’s about a search for paradise and it’s an attempt to heal the wounds of our ancestors which are carried down from one generation to the next.
MICHAEL: Let’s start with Black Sun: You’re planning to have most of the film take place in pitch black darkness – why, and how limiting or challenging do you expect that to be for you as filmmakers?
DANIEL & CLARA: Black Sun is the first in a series of films in which we are planning to explore humankind’s relationship to darkness. Most modern humans don’t have the same relationship to darkness that our ancestors did, the electric light has eliminated the shadows and with it we have been cut off from this great source of inspiration and power. When plunged into darkness our hearing becomes more acute, our other senses are activated, and our inner visions come to life too. We want to experiment with this as a cinema experience. The cinema is a place where people come together to experience collective visions in a dark room, we find this interesting, like how our ancestors would gather at night around a fire and tell stories.
MICHAEL: Black Sun will rely heavily on its sound design – so what do you have in store for us on that front, and how do you actually “direct” sound design?
DANIEL & CLARA: Sound design has been incredibly important for every film we have made. Most modern films sound the same, there is a sort of standard that all films operate in at the moment. We don’t find this very interesting, what excites us is using sound in a much more expressionist way, like music, to create feelings and unconscious connections rather than to hand-feed information to the audience. We direct sound design in the same way you direct the other elements of a film. When we write scripts, we often have notes and descriptions of what is happening with the various elements of sound (foley, atmosphere, music, etc.) and how they might interact with the image, but it all comes together through the process, through experimentation and seeing what happens along the way.
MICHAEL: You say The Kingdom of Shadows is inspired by dreams and early silent cinema – care to explain?
DANIEL & CLARA: We have been writing down our dreams daily for the past couple of years, out of this several films have grown, in fact all the films we have planned for the next few years have at least some sequences based on dreams. For us dreams are like gifts, they speak from a place beyond the intellect and rational mind, there is a truth in them that resonates with power. We write them down, plant them like seeds in our notebooks and eventually they grow into films.
Silent cinema existed primarily beyond language, it was a visual medium that existed in a realm one step beyond reality. We shot our film Savage Witches silently, adding all the voice and sound design in post-production, we’ve only worked like this a couple of times so far but we have found it a really liberating process. It enables a different way of working with performers, focusing on the movement of bodies in a space rather than words. We are not interested in recreating reality, we are excited by cinema as an artifice that can bring to life the invisible world inside us!
MICHAEL: The Kingdom of Shadows reworks the biblical myths of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel – so what will your re-interpretation be like, and how close do plan to you remain to your source material?
DANIEL & CLARA: There will be thin threads tying us to the source, not that there is technically a single source we can know of as the Bible exists in several forms and has been rewritten from other sources many times. We have been strongly inspired by the gnostic writings as well so it’s certainly not going to be an orthodox retelling. For us the interest lies in the idea that the actions of our ancestors are carried down from generation to generation and that when these actions cause a psychological block they need to be healed in some way. The film is also about the idea of Paradise, which we see not as a place to get to but as a state of being or a level of consciousness that can be experienced through creativity, making art and spiritual practices.
MICHAEL: You would like to see Black Sun and The Kingdom of Shadows be shown as companion pieces – so in what way do they complement one another?
DANIEL & CLARA: Well, they are separate films and could be shown separately but we feel they would create a fuller experience when played together. Black Sun is about a descent, it’s about a crisis and an unravelling, whereas The Kingdom Of Shadows is about healing and a journey towards unity. Black Sun strips away the images while The Kingdom Of Shadows is rich with them. Maybe after the darkness the images of The Kingdom Of Shadows will be like revelations.
MICHAEL: As far as I know, you’re currently still in the process of raising funds for Black Sun and The Kingdom of Shadows – so do talk about your campaign for a bit?
DANIEL & CLARA: Yes, we still have a small amount we need to raise. We are nearly there but we need help to make these films happen, we need people who love strange and visionary cinema to help us spread the word and if they can, to sponsor the films.
We have launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo and have lots of great perks for sponsors, from DVDs of our previous films to posters and soundtracks. The most unique perk is that we will make films of people’s dreams. These will be short personal interpretations of descriptions that people send us of their dreams. We are very excited about this actually, we have been working with our dreams for a while and have developed a certain language and approach derived from them, but it’d be interesting to see how we respond to other people’s dreams, a material that is such an uncensored personal expression.
Also we really wanted to give every sponsor something special to express our deep gratitude for believing in us and supporting our films, so we are making very unusual personalised cine-poem thank you videos for every single person who sponsors.
MICHAEL: Once the budget’s in place, what’s the schedule? And any idea when and where the films might be released onto the general public yet?
DANIEL & CLARA: The plan is to shoot throughout the autumn and then we’ll be spending the first half of 2016 working on the edit, sound and music with a festival release beginning late 2016. Some sponsors will be getting early online premieres and DVDs of the films, this is a great perk for those who can’t wait to see them!
MICHAEL: Any future projects beyond Black Sun and The Kingdom of Shadows?
DANIEL & CLARA: We have lots planned, there are some more films in the series about darkness. There is also our ongoing home movie project, the first film of this, which is Splendor Solis, just premiered this September at the Cambridge Film Festival, so we’ll be working on the follow on films from that. We always have more than one project in the works, things that go from smaller, more experimental works to bigger, much more scripted films. There are so many possibilities in cinema and we have so many ideas between us, we always keep busy!