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October 12th, 2017

As a hub of diverse culture and expression, Los Angeles plays home to the intersection of many progressive art forms. These forms can take on various adaptations, each one integrating multiple methods of talent and thought to offer a new and different perspective. 

The Mill was lucky enough to collaborate on one such endeavor, working with the creators of music project Kismet on their music video, ‘Best’. With a vibrant grade provided by Colourist Derek Hansen out of our West Coast studio, Kismet pays “homage to Hitchcock’s Vertigo with a female gaze and Lynchian vibes,” according to Director Shatara Ford, turning classic cinema on its head.

We chatted with Shatara to learn more about her inspiration and the creative process behind ‘Best’.

Can you share some background on Kismet?

"Kismet is a joint music project between California based performer Amani Starnes and songwriter-producer Shruti Kumar. Their lyrics are inspired by what they are both going through as women, daughters, artists and lovers. Their sound marries throwback instrumentation with modern production to mirror a reconciliation between old and new world orders."

ShataraPhoto Courtesy of Shatara Ford

How do you interpret the narrative of the film?

"The protagonist in the film, played by Amani, is fragmented, convincing herself of a part she and her partner should play in order for them to go on as before with no regard for who either of them really are. She watches herself try to play the part. She knows it's not right but in the end, she disappears into the role and we're not really sure she's happier for it."

ShataraPhoto Courtesy of Shatara Ford

How did the Hitchcock inspiration come about?

"About a year ago, Amani shared some of her new music with me and ‘Best’ was just something that I couldn't get out of my head. The song to me is an expression of denial over a relationship that isn't working, and the internal conflict it brings as this person tries to convince herself and her partner that they just have to ‘be better’. This, paired with the sonic elements, made me think of Hitchcock's Vertigo, as the themes overlap slightly.

Kistmet

Kistmet

KismetStills from 'Best'

"Now, I'm a huge Hitchcock nerd, and Vertigo is one of my favorite movies. As the film is well known for its "male gaze," I always wondered what a female spin on it would be. Amani loved the idea and just let me go for it."

What were some key moments that stood out to you while filming?

"The best part of the whole process was going through Vertigo with my crew to get every single element as precise as possible. We built replica sets and re-staged exteriors in San Francisco and Monterey to the best of our ability, after countless hours going over the film frame by frame.

ShataraPhoto Courtesy of Shatara Ford

"Eloise Ayala [Production Designer] managed to find the original drafts from the sets, while Ludovica Isidori [Director of Photography] paid careful attention to technical specs. Both elements, combined with the VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219, courtesy of Kodak, contributed greatly to the overall look and feel of ‘Best’."

Derek also shared his thoughts on the piece saying, “I really enjoyed discussing the original inspiration with Shatara, specifically what the references meant to her and her vision for her own adaptation. It was truly a pleasure collaborating with her."

Learn more about Kismet’s work at www.kismet.ltd