Have you ever woken up one day, and wondered where all the sun, warmth and possible of your childhood have gone? While you’re sipping your morning coffee, full of melancholy and perhaps dejection, you are pondering about our society, seemingly driven by nihilism, isolation and a growing pleasure in destruction. And you’re wondering: how did it happen? How did you lose the innocence, the dreams and the magic you could swear were true when you were a child? You’re asking yourself how all adults could have lost sight of the beauty and positive strength inside of them, and now either turning their back on nature, or, even worst, trying to destroy it, in order to fuel their everlasting anger against their own void. You’re sad, and you’re bitter too. But, there is still a dab of hope in you, and you’re able to feel the transformative potential of art, especially when teamed with an ode to nature. What you need is a good story, the kind of fiction, which would revive the emotions, which were natural when you were younger, when you were living in harmony with our world. This tale is perhaps Kin Fables.
Kin Fables has started with a trilogy of short films, Kin, Salvage and Requiem, and is now going on with a feature film. With his new video, Kin Fables: The Stolen Child, director Seb McKinnon wants to tell a simple yet essential story. Music is replacing words, giving their full space to emotions, in their utmost expression, captured inside epic and intense landscapes. Just a look at these films and you will be adamant that absolute beauty exists and they will remind you to admire nature again. But let’s start our journey with the original trilogy.
Set in wild nature, full of elemental beauties, Kin is taking us back to innocence. In the short, it takes the form of a young boy and a young girl, separated by what looks like two different magical worlds. In one of these, strange masked creatures display a bewitching ritual, between paganism and dream.
The second one, Salvage introduces us to a pilot, falling in the forest and meeting an older version of the young heroine of Kin, but also a group of old wise men, in a breathtaking storm. Contrasting with the first two movies, Requiem is set in a cold and impersonal city, where the young hero of Kin has grown up. If the urban landscape can be beautiful, it is dark and full of frustration, and the young man is looking like an inmate inside a prison of glass, concrete and disillusioned relationships. When the masked creatures, old men and the pilot of the previous films are starting to appear in the streets, the hero leaves the city in order to find the settings of his childhood’s dream again and to be reunited with his kindred soul, the heroine.
The amazing reception of the trilogy is proving that human beings are craving for inspiring fictions and art such as Kin Fables. With many well-deserved awards and an ever-growing number of followers and fans, the short films have triggered an artistic impulse, with the creation of massive fan art.
Created by brothers Seb and Ben McKinnon, of Five Knights Production, the success of the project convinced the team of Kin Fables to extend their fantasy universe with exciting upcoming projects such as a graphic novel, a feature film, as well as a new album for their gorgeous music project CLANN. Beautiful Bizarre Magazine and Seb McKinnon have decided to team to make you discover The Stolen Child in exclusivity: enjoy!
With Kin Fables: The Stolen Child, the team is giving us a glimpse to a bigger project. The short is also the music video for the track “The Stolen Child” from CLANN’s album, Seelie. We’re meeting a young faerie child, portrayed by a bewitching young actress, dancing with the Spirit, angel of Change, Death and Time. We also witness the encounter of the Knight and the Faerie Queen, who comes to him in the night and tells him things he once knew, but has forgotten. Needless to say, this is an amazing appetizer of the final feature film…
For the occasion, Seb McKinnon has accepted to take us on a tour inside the Kin Fables wonderland and its future, with a captivating interview.
How was the idea and story of the Kin Fables born? Can you tell specific influences and sources of inspiration that have shaped the project and its esthetics?
It all began when I purchased a copy of Logic and started experimenting with music production. Around the same time, my brother Ben and I decided to take a month-long backpacking trough Europe, starting with Scotland. I had one of my songs with me on the trip, and I remember listening to it and getting visions. Characters started populating my mind; masked spirits, fairy children, knights, horses… The more I listened to the song, the more the scenes became clear, and the more I felt the need to somehow make all this real. Film was the way to do it. I spoke of these ideas with Ben and we agreed to throw ourselves completely into bringing these visuals to life, to tell whatever story was presenting itself to us, to make decisions with pure feeling alone and trust our gut instincts.
There were many sources of inspiration, which formed aesthetics of the project, some perhaps more on a subconscious level. There are parallels with Celtic and Scandinavian myths and legends, and even our own Canadian Aboriginal folklore. The design of the spirit masks/costumes were heavily influenced by Inuit designs and the art of animation filmmaker Myazaki. And I was really into the films of Tarkovsky and Bergman while coming up with the ideas and how we were going to tell this story.
The idea of getting lost is a sort of underlying theme in the trilogy and more evident in the title of the feature film. What is the meaning of this lost state? Is it a personal feeling or something we could all relate to?
I think at some point in our lives we all become lost; it’s a completely relatable feeling. I’m particularly interested in that lost state one might feel at the junction between childhood and adulthood. The loss of innocence so to speak. The transition occurs without us truly being aware of it most of the time; life just happens. We grow up. And it’s only something we can look at with retrospective wisdom. On a personal level, I had this fear of losing my true self as a child, and not being able to find my way back. I believe there is magic in the world, and the source of that magic comes from holding on to what is true, being true to oneself. Anyone can harness that magic, and use it like a power. For some reason, many of us lose sight of this in adulthood. The concepts of Truth, or the Sacred are met with ridicule or indifference by many, if not most of society; they are drowned with the noise and static and illusions of the non-essential.
Would you say that nature is one of the main characters of the project? What is the part played by this particular character, especially in connection with the human ones?
It is. In connection to the characters, nature is the way back to who they once were, the recollection of something they thought they had forgotten. In a way, the masked Spirits are agents of nature, of the flow of life itself. They nudge the story along, pulling the strings behind the scenes so the characters may go through their transformative journeys.
What are the natural locations featured in the films? How did you select them?
The scenes in KIN were shot in Montebello, Quebec. Our family has a cottage there; it’s where I spent my childhood summers. The locations have special significance to me for this reason. SALVAGE was shot on the West Coast of Newfoundland, which I was drawn to for its resemblance to Nordic countries/Scotland in terms of look and feel. It’s a very beautiful island, which exudes a strong air of mystery and desolation. REQUIEM was shot in Montreal, where our company Five Knights Productions is based.
In the third film, Requiem, the city and our contemporary way of living are pictured with a shade of frustration and even angst, but not without beauty: what do you want to show with the contrast and similarities between the urban and natural worlds? Do you think that those two worlds are compatible?
For me they are two different worlds, and I’m still questioning myself whether they are compatible or not, because in a way, the birth of a city means the death of nature. I think this is an incredibly subjective question; I can only speak for myself when I say I suffocate in a city environment. My being needs the quiet and solitude nature offers, and I can say with certainty I’ve only felt peace and profound happiness in nature. But in the films, it was important for me to not portray the city itself in a negative light. That’s not what the message is. At the end of Requiem, the boy perhaps chooses to return to the city, once having reconnected with his past, it’s up for the viewer to decide…
Magic is the main element of the project, with two types of characters able to convey it, old men and children… would you say that your project is a reminder that adults need magic too, and that they can find their innocence back by reminding ancient cultures?
This has something to do with the concept of the Sacred mentioned earlier. Not from a religious point of view, but from a more spiritual outlook. Ancient cultures recognized the Sacred, at least much more than humanity does today I think. Love is sacred. Purity and Innocence are sacred. Morals/values should be sacred things. Because they are beautiful and fragile. Human actions can break them so easily. They can be lost. We have to be careful with them, and take care of them. Children can remind us of the magic these things hold, and the wisdom of age give us to the tools to protect them.
The project has many different artistic facets: the movies, but also the graphic novel, the art book and the music; can you tell us more about these aspects and how they interact with each others?
It’s all about world-building. KIN Fables is a cinematic universe in development. The graphic novel (still a work in progress), is the starting point for the feature film we’re currently developing. The art book collects all the paintings, sketches, behind the scenes photos illustrating the creative process of the project. The music is definitely a strong driving force behind everything; it’s the heartbeat of KIN Fables. The music we make under the name CLANN conjures images in my imagination, and inspires me to create more films, and the actual filmmaking inspires the music creation in turn. All artistic facets feed each other constantly, giving life to the world we’re building over time.
We’re still debating between 2 titles “ The Sad Prince” or “ The Stolen Child”. Our fans are also split down the middle on this decision. At the moment we have a final script, and we’re seeking financing for the feature, which is an incredible challenge. It’s not an easy film to sell to studios/investors/distribution companies since I’m striving to create something new, something different than what’s been done before… In a way it is similar to the trilogy in terms of look and feel, and the themes are echoed in the events of the feature, but “ The Stolen Child/Sad Prince” will take place only in the world portrayed in the first short film KIN. The main difference will be of course the addition of dialogue in the feature, and the introduction of new exiting characters that will interact with those present in the Trilogy.
What are your future plans, both for the Kin Fables universe and other projects?
The feature film is the one goal our team is reaching towards. It’s something we’ve been fighting for a long time. After that, who knows?
According to you, if there would be only one thing, one message, to find in Kin Fables, what would it be?
May I answer this with a poem?
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself loose me.