Directorial duo Kit & Arran, whose darkly comedic satire “King Baby” premieres at International Film Festival Rotterdam, are lining up two further film projects, “How Dare You” and “Jericho,” the directors, whose full names are Kit Redstone and Arran Shearing, tell Variety.
Selected for the Bright Future section and initially developed as a play, “King Baby” sees a King and a Servant (Graham Dickson and Neil Chinneck) living alone in the ruins of a castle. When their daily routine is disturbed by a Queen, they start succumbing to their worst instincts. Even though she is a wooden mannequin.
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The film was produced by Franck Priot, Ye Shu, the directors and Marc Petey for Ghosts City and Chimples Pictures.
“We felt there was something deliciously promising about this stripped-down world,” says Kit. But despite its comedic set-up, “King Baby” quickly turns more disturbing, exploring “different nuances of patriarchal brutality.”
“At first, we wanted to disarm our audience. Make them feel this was an eccentric, absurdist British comedy and play off this troupe of loveable buffoons. Later, you realize you are somehow complicit in allowing them to behave badly,” he notes.
“In the King, we see something familiar: this all-powerful brute who always gets what he wants. The Servant is an offer of hope that something beautiful could happen. But when we look at world politics, we see ‘fascist monsters’ on the right and then people on the left who present a more palatable alternative, but at heart are exactly the same.”
“Tonally, the film doesn’t seem to change. The jokes are the same, the men are the same. It’s the realization of the implications of their behavior that changes and makes it so dark,” adds Arran.
Soon, there is no escape from the game they are playing.
“We are looking at two different presentations of masculinity that lead to the same result when participating in the same structure. What’s bleak is that the one person we can relate to, the Queen, has no ability to escape.”
Combining painful topics with playfulness comes naturally to the filmmakers, inspired by the likes of Yorgos Lanthimos or Lars von Trier.
“It’s the signature of our identity as filmmakers. Everything from this film to other projects we are working on has the same kind of balance between dark, mischievous, sometimes slightly surreal humor that borders on something serious,” says Kit, while Arran observes: “Humor brings out the sadness of why we are socially indifferent to things that are important. That being said, we are always following a clearly aligned moral compass and worldview. We can defer back to our sense of humanity for why we are telling a joke.”
Kit & Arran are already preparing their next features. Satirical horror “How Dare You,” about a queer group of friends who become possessed by an ultra-Conservative family – which starts shooting in August – and “Jericho”: revisionist western about a trans cowboy and his daughter on a perilous journey to rescue his young son.
“Genre is really exciting to us. It comes with a certain framework and you can celebrate it or you can reject it. We can tinker with it to tell our story in the best way,” says Kit.
“There are things we accept in a western or horror, things the society has moved past. There are areas we forget to question and to us, it seems like an opportunity. We want to acknowledge these expectations and then subvert them,” adds Arran.
The directors, who have been collaborating for five years now, are in no hurry to part ways.
“It looks like we will be working together for many more years. It’s like a platonic marriage,” laughs Kit.
“We have different but complementary skill sets. Arran mentioned, and I agree, that we fill these ‘deficits’ in each other and then surprise each other by having a great idea in the realm we’re not the strongest in. What we have together is gold.”
“We are so comfortable with each other that the writing becomes more personal and it’s the same with directing,” agrees Arran.
“It just works.”
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