Among the sea of directors and writers turning to Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to make their films, we found Akil DuPont. Akil brought his new film, “Silhouettes”, to Kickstarter with the intent of raising $8,500 to cover production costs. He came away from his campaign having raised $10,005. What struck us most about Akil’s campaign was the success of his last major project, “Underground”. The film was both beautiful and terrifying as a glimpse of the history of slavery in the United States. Its success gives us high hopes for “Silhouettes” in the future. We had the opportunity to talk to Akil about his new film and its influences.
Q: Where did the idea for this film come from? What is your background in film-making?
Akil: I've always thought Silhouetted photography as an art form produced amazing and stunning images, images that can be either incredibly romantic or really mysterious - which are themes that we play with in the film. But, I had several ideas jotted down when I was thinking about the next project that I wanted to do, including this one. One night while I was dreaming, I saw "Silhouettes" play out in my head. So, I said "OK, God. We'll go forward with that one!"
My creative background involves spending quite a bit of time in the photography/modeling arena. After 11 years doing that, I decided to expand my creative spectrum and was accepted into FSU's Film School. My thesis film, "Underground" - a slave story told through song, was well received. It won 2 Student Emmys, 17 awards, played in 25 countries and was invited by the US Department of the Interior to screen at President Abraham Lincoln's home in Illinois.
Since then, I have been working in several areas of production, mainly helping my filmmaking friends get their projects off the ground. I Production Designed for an independent feature called "Then There Was You" - in post production, was a Cinematographer for a national promo video for FAMU - in post production and I've been developing several other projects as well as serving as a mentor.
Q: How would you categorize your movie with regard to genre?
Akil: "Silhouettes" falls into the romantic genre, but being told through silhouettes, partial silhouettes and real world images makes it unique. I think its form will make it stand out from other films in the genre.
Q: Who do you expect your audience will be? Who are you trying to reach out to?
Akil: I'm a strong believer that great art exceeds its genre. So, I'm always trying to reach lovers of great cinema. Those who are partial to love and awesome cinematography will flock to this film as well. Even though the story has no elements of race politics in it, I've always imagined it with a black cast. So we will be reaching out to that audience too.
Q: What is the draw for your audience? What makes your film unique?
Akil: It has been 2 years since I made "Underground" and that was a successful film. Some filmmakers churn out film after film, but I decided to wait until I had an idea, or world, that I thought was strong enough to tell a story that would be intriguing. I think this main character, who is a visually-impaired painter that sees the world through silhouettes, is something that engages the imagination of people and the possibilities that premise offers.
Q: Did you draw influences for this film from other films? Which ones? Are there any specific directors you draw inspiration from?
Akil: I'm always studying the works of Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, Taylor Hackford and others that create unique worlds or tell stories from unique perspectives. I watched films with strong romantic themes (Titanic, Notebook), ones with strong cinematography (The Fountain, The works of Zack Snyder - 300, Dawn of the Dead) and any film that used silhouettes in their story telling (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The Matrix would also on occasion)
Q: Are there any specific locations you want to film at or have filmed at? What makes these locations special to you and the project?
Akil: I'm always looking at locations that visually and authentically support the tone, visual style and world of the story. So whatever matches my story is where I would love to film! A few of my filmmaking friends have tried to get me to visit them in Hawaii to check out their locations. So, I'll have to make that trip one day as well!
If you are interested in donating to Akil’s film, “Silhouettes”, you can make a donation through the PayPal link on their website: http://www.DuPontProductions.com
Also, if you are interested in seeing "Underground" it is available to watch here: https://vimeo.com/25639698