Lars Kemnitz’ BUNNY, fresh from playing the fantastic Filmstock 12 in Luton, has recently arrived online. It’s a wickedly bemusing short which is bound to conjure up as many questions as it is a multitude of interpretations. The plot, if one was to apply a conventional cinematic narrative to this clever puzzle of a film, follows a man and a woman in a hotel room as they encounter a creepy mask, and the escapades that unfold. Kemnitz’ wonderfully cryptic work was created as an entry for the Straight 8 Competition in London, a challenge which implores filmmakers to shoot an entire film on one roll of Super 8 film stock without editing. Twelve Cabins caught up with Kemnitz to chat the pros and cons of limitations and his future plans to continue BUNNY’s story.
BUNNY was created as a submission for the Straight 8 Competition in London, what initially made you want to enter?
The idea to enter the Straight 8 competition developed when I heard about it three years ago. I have always wanted to venture into filmmaking, but never had the courage to do it. I have been doing photography for many years shooting almost exclusively on film stock, so for me it felt natural to shoot my first short film that way. Straight 8 did make it easier for me to come up with an idea thanks to the strict rules and limitations; only being able to shoot a whole film with a maximum length of three minutes and twenty seconds on one cartridge of Super 8. It was a good starting point and proved to be a unique experience.
How did you come up with the idea for BUNNY?
I wrote the first draft of the story in Autumn 2017 because I initially wanted to enter Straight 8 in 2018. Somehow, it did not happen and I decided to revise the story in Autumn 2018 when I came across a picture in a fashion magazine showing a model wearing a creepy bunny mask. I immediately knew that I wanted to include this mask element in the story, and suddenly everything made sense to me. We eventually shot the film in January 2019.
What are the challenges and benefits of shooting on Super 8? Would you do it again?
Super 8 is certainly the most lo-fi film medium there is, but at the same time it has a distinctive aesthetic which I really appreciate. The imperfectness of it makes it so fascinating, I think. It reminds us of the past because it once was the medium of amateur filmmakers and used for private purposes. Today, it’s a medium which attracts mainly people who are interested in this aesthetic and do not want to fake it. People who want to make art or incorporate a sense of nostalgia in their films.
I like working with Super 8 because it is easy, the camera is small and I can shoot everywhere at any time. I love how the footage looks and feels. Of course, you cannot control everything. The working process is different from a digital one, you cannot check the footage right away. Simply put, you have to trust yourself – and your camera. Until now, I only did films without dialog, so there was no need to record and sync sound which can be a challenge, too. I made four short films in 2019, all shot on Super 8 – among them one for the 2020 edition of Straight 8. I cannot wait to see it for the first time, and yes, I will continue to shoot on Super 8.
I read the character of BUNNY as a manifestation created by the man, or a creation manifested by the pill he takes, and the woman is a projected fantasy. Dare I ask you for your interpretation of the story?
I have always remained cautious with an interpretation of BUNNY because a definitive answer does not exist. The film should be a mystery and fuel your imagination. The idea of a ‘projected fantasy’ is only one of many valid interpretations.
What are you working on now?
I have just started shooting a new chapter of BUNNY. The project was initiated by the actress who plays the female lead in BUNNY and is a good friend of mine. I deliberately call it a second chapter because I do not want the film to be a sequel. There are certain returning elements and characters, but the film is meant to stand on its own. It will contain more horror elements and be again very mysterious. For the shooting of this second chapter I decided to use black-and-white film only. Beyond that, I want to experiment with vertical video for Instagram and continue to do more artistic photography projects.
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