It’s been over a year since I posted about Kithara – at the time, I intended it to be my debut film. A silent black & white two-reeler, I imagined it as a stepping stone into larger, more complicated projects (it wouldn’t require location sound or sophisticated colour grading, for instance).
The project stalled after a couple of meetings with the actors/brains trust I corralled to be involved. I got hung up on trying to incorporate all the (valid and insightful) suggestions they provided on character motivation, story structure, film theory and more. Naturally, I wanted Kithara to be perfect, but trying to retrofit all these ideas onto the story proved impossible for me. The clay refused its mold.
In the end, it got pushed to one side. Like Raymond Chandler said, “the more you reason, the less you create”.
It took me a stupidly long time to realise the movie didn’t need to be perfect. Some of my favourite movies are riddled with baffling logic and lapses in judgement. What movie, however canonical, is truly perfect? There is too much chance involved in achieving even near-perfection (as anyone that knows the history of Casablanca can tell you). Conversely, aren’t flawed films often the most intriguing?
Kithara will be an imperfect film, and I am happy about that. That simple conclusion is freeing.
My driving creative philosophy is best put in the The Cult of Done manifesto, “done is the engine of more”. Getting Kithara done will lead me to the next thing. The experience gained is as important as the end result. I’ve reworked and improved the script, I’m storyboarding at present, and looking to shoot by the end of the year.
Ironically, what started as a ‘stepping stone’ is now relatively ambitious – recently I’ve been reaching out to actors, make-up artists and costume designers. The end result will be lush, beautiful and dreamlike – a perfumed handkerchief in a field of shit – to borrow a phrase from The Extremist.
Part of my attraction to shooting a silent black & white movie is my love for films of the 20s (particularly those of Buster Keaton, who I’ll write about another time). I’m no scholar, but like anyone exploring a new medium, I find it helps to start at the beginning. I’m fascinated with the process, the nuts and bolts, by which early films became such an idiosyncratic artform – while I am not interested in strict pastiche, I want to use Kithara to explore some of the constraints (static camera shots, blue-sensitive film stock, variances in speed on account of being hand-cranked) and innovations (make-up) of the time. Filmmaking as film school.