A mysterious knight in shining armour blasts a ram-horn, calling the short fantasy film KIN into action. A young boy with distinct yellow galoshes runs in slow motion out of a ghastly mansion, while a knight chases him through an enchanted forest. A child-princess, pale as the moon, approaches a stream, a diamond necklace is revealed lying stagnant in the flowing waters. The knight and the boy in the yellow galoshes collapse simultaneously. The boy regains his footing and is welcomed by a tribe of dancing spirits that resemble the puppet-villain ‘Jigsaw’ from the Saw film series, only curious and inviting-looking and not so creepy. Pause.
While most successful films begin with words on paper, the McKinnon Brother’s KIN, which took home the award for Best Cinematography at the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival and the Cyprus International Film Festival, began with a few tracks on Logic Pro composed by Seb McKinnon, a graphic designer with no background in music.
After graduating from Dawson College in illustration, Seb was designing illustrations for the card game Magic: The Gathering and was hired by Ubisoft as a game designer. Turning all his medieval fantasies into elaborately designed reality, Seb was living an illustrator’s dream, until he discovered Logic Pro and the art of song-making; that’s when everything changed.
“As a concept artist, I design knights or any creature that has something to do with fantasy. I remember while I was at Ubisoft, about two years ago, I really wanted to do something on my own. That’s when the ideas for KIN really came to me,” said Seb.
Akroan Horse, Debt to the Deathless, Drown in Filth, Vaporkin, were just a few of the countless creatures and mythical warriors he gave life to. Fueling the hordes of Magic card collectors with riveting visuals no longer thrilled Seb the same way because the world he was creating was beyond the realm known to fantasy-lovers. His new concept, KIN, was born through the mélange of beats and with the partnership of his filmmaking brother, Benjamin McKinnon.
“Most fantasy short films or feature films that you see have soundtracks concentrated on the orchestral, the choirs, the epic drum beats, but we wanted to bring a modern element to KIN, so that’s why we introduced the trance beat,” said Benjamin, who still cannot believe the process of how this all begun.
“While I started making the music, Ben and I began constructing a storyboard and that’s how this story started to tumble,” said Seb.
As more and more faces were created for KIN, Seb went back to the drawing board and began drawing a graphic novel about the story, which inspired some of the shots of the film. But it is really through the music where the story began.
“I went by the musical name of Clann for this project. We stumbled upon vocalist Charlotte Oleena by chance and that made the KIN EP into what it was,” he said.
In the realm of KIN, it is not just the mythology of the characters and world, but the music that sets the tone.
The McKinnon brothers are gaining attention in the Montreal cultural milieu for this project, which is unlike any film ever created before in the genre of fantasy. It’s a musical, visual journey into fable, narrated through its visually mystifying and intensely emotional narrative guided by trance-like electronic music.
Divided into three short films, Salvage, Her & The River, and Requiem, the McKinnon brothers have completely self-funded this project and are now raising money on kickstarter to see this multimedia project to its completion.
“You watch Braveheart and there are certain moments in the film where all the sounds disappear and you are left with the soundtracks that are almost on the verge of being a music video,” said Seb.
“Goosebumps moments, connecting with those moments when you are watching a film and you feel the chills, that’s what we strive to create,” said Benjamin, finishing Seb’s thought.