Returning to the pages of Twelve Cabins for the second chapter of his cryptic film series, Lars Kemnitz is here to present Come Here, My Dear! The follow-up to his equally mysterious Bunny, Kemnitz’ latest instalment sees another romantic rendezvous become embroiled in a malaise of uncertainty. It’s an alluringly puzzling short film which we, for one, hope to see him follow up for a third time. For now though, enjoy Come Here, My Dear! and read our conversation with Kemnitz on the inspiration behind his film below.
What elements from Bunny did you want to expand upon in Come Here, My Dear!?
For a long time I was convinced that Bunny was a one-off and did not call for a sequel. But then the film’s actress, Heidrun, a dear friend and long-time collaborator, came up with the idea to do a second part. We brainstormed to find an approach to continue the story. I wanted to create a second chapter instead of a sequel, because I was not interested in having a seamless transition between the films. I wanted to have certain returning key elements like the characters, the briefcase and the mask, but mixed up in a different way.
Someone who does not know Bunny should be able to watch and enjoy this as well. Watching both films should make another difference in your perception of them because you start asking yourself how chapter two corresponds with chapter one, and if chapter two takes place before or after chapter one, and what to think of the relationship between the characters. Lots of questions arise and that is, of course, what I intended. The least I wanted with chapter two was to explain the things that happened and that are happening. What was obvious for me was that I wanted to keep the mystery while pushing the horror elements a little. This is why Come Here, My Dear! feels more like a horror film.
The stark black and white film, along with the actors performances, give it a sensibility similar to films from the Silent Era, is that part of the creative decision behind those choices?
Yes, it is true, the aesthetic of the film and the performances as a result of the lack of dialogue really establish this reference with the Silent Era. But, to be honest, when making the decision to shoot on black and white Super 8 film stock, I was more influenced by recent releases such as Mark Jenkin’s Bait or Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, because I was fascinated by how they make use of black and white film stock giving their films a timeless yet modern appeal. Without colour you are focusing more on forms and texture and performances. It helps to create a distance between our world and the film’s world. What is happening on screen is not reality and black and white emphasises that.
I really love short films that work without dialogue. You have to rely on visuals, music and sound to tell the story. For me, it is the essence of filmmaking. Especially in the horror genre, as it is most often about creating atmosphere and suspense. When I got to the edit, I wanted to include a ghostly female voice the man hears as a voiceover. I tried it, but it did not work. It was too much. It was distracting from Jan’s great performance, so I decided to do without it.
Bunny was set in a hotel room, which felt like an integral part of its story, and similarly here the forest creates a strong atmosphere. What inspired that choice of location?
Something that was clear right from the beginning was that the second chapter should not play in a hotel room. I wanted a different location to set this apart. The first draft of the script outlined a story set in a mansion. Later, when I reworked the script, the mansion became a beach. I had the idea of the woman appearing far in the distance on a huge beach and the man trying to reach her without success. She reminded me a little bit of an ancient siren. As Covid-19 arose and travelling became restricted, we had to cancel our plans to make a trip to the beach. Instead, I changed the location to the forest because I live near a big forest in Hamburg and it was the best solution that would still allow us to shoot the outdoor scenes in March as planned. Now it is hard to imagine the film taking place anywhere but in the forest. I am sure it would have been a different film if we shot it somewhere else.
The score is really evocative and disconcerting. What were you looking to evoke with it?
As with all my films so far, I created the score on my own. Years back I did a lot more of production work and self-released some electronic music. But I would never dare to call myself a good producer. I cannot read music, too. I always have a vision of how the music for a film should sound. I know when I get to the point where it sounds like that. It’s fun to experiment and try things out. For this film, I wanted to keep the music and the sound as minimalistic as possible. It was the same as with the voiceover. Too much music would have ruined the atmosphere. So, I stripped my composition back to the essentials.
All the sounds I used; the wind, the footsteps and the crows, were sourced from sound libraries. I went to the location after the shoot to record some sounds, but they didn’t work well. I wanted very pure sounds so I could control everything, even the moment a crow screams. The music and the sound complement each other and are key to build the atmosphere. I wanted to evoke a feeling of uncertainty, as if something could happen anytime. An elusive threat that runs like a red thread through the film.
Will we see the mask return for a third, and potentially final, chapter?
I suppose my cast would be open to do a third chapter, and if we have an idea that is pleasing us and could work for a third chapter, maybe we will do it. Maybe next year. It would be nice to turn this into a trilogy.
Finally, how has your work shifted as a result of the pandemic?
Shooting the outdoor scenes for Come Here, My Dear! in March was the last time I shot something with people on location. Instead, I did a photography project via Skype and some documentary photography capturing my neighbourhood. I worked on an animation film with 16mm film material. I enjoyed creating something with my hands, painting on and scratching the material. It was new for me and had a meditative quality. I am currently waiting for the scans to finish this piece. The title will be Life and I am very excited to see what the result will be like. But, however, I missed meeting people physically to create something together. Now, as restrictions have been eased, I am looking forward to doing creative projects with people in real places again.
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