The serpent from the Book of Genesis is depicted as a symbol for overcoming adversity in sports. Frantic images tell the story of a resilient basketball player who has to decide where the buck stops

Walter Stoehr has got us used to some dynamic and innovative documentary experiences. !aouo !a!a wa and Guardians of the Ghost highlight compelling stories through refreshing cinematic styles. While the experimental style in Connectivity Lost breaks our comfort zone to drive the story. ‘My Kingdom Come’ falls in its own category, but you can see the aspirations and learnings from the previous films.

Walter tells us how the film came to be

Approximately two years ago I listened to an old recording of a speech philosopher Alan Watts was giving. I was struck by the way he used the story of creation to bring his point across. He argued that we are always passing the buck. Of all characters in the story only the serpent stood its ground and did not give in to blaming someone else for its deeds in the face of impending punishment. That resonated with me and the connection to sports was made immediately. I vaguely remembered that in John Milton’s opus Paradise Lost Satan, who later – as the serpent – plays a role in Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, is the protagonist of the story.

Due to the way Milton tells this story you kind of empathise with him. Of course his deeds are far from admirable but he fights to improve his situation in the face of great adversity. It’s a fascinating story and I wanted to translate that into a short film about overpowering circumstances the protagonist has to cope with. I wanted it to take place in the bleakest of environments and have Boris, the protagonist, rise, overcome his fears, leave the past behind and bring his own personal paradise into being. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” – as written in Paradise Lost.

‘My Kingdom Come’ takes place in an unforgiving world. Walter and DoP Khalid Mohtaseb banked on architecture to create the hostile environment which became a pillar of the storyline. In order to do this he had to write the script while simultaneously designing the world. Walter wanted Boris to inhabit the utmost uninviting place you can imagine.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to feature the key ingredients of the story of Genesis

Bleak concrete walls, no plants or greenery at all. No sunshine, no birds, no sky, no way out. A prison where the only escape would be pursuing his passion: playing basketball. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to feature the key ingredients of the story of Genesis and have those elements translated into the world of the film. The snakes were used as an extrinsic device to get Boris to (re)act. He is the only one who „sees“ the animals. And every time they appear he does something that brings him closer to his goal: To play basketball and stand up to the players who bullied him before.

Through the voice over and his transformation in the end we understand that Boris is presented as the equivalent to the serpent in Genesis. The snakes that appeared were always part of him. He is the one who consciously or unconsciously pushed himself to achieving his goal. I knew the color red would play a role as I wanted to incorporate the forbidden fruit in this world too. Red apples and Boris’ red Basketball were the way to go.

Khalid brought his unique style to this project and was an integral part of bringing this idea to life

Location scouting startet early on. We knew that we had to complement some shots with matte paintings in order to marry the locations together, so we had to plan for that. At this point preproduction started. Approximately three month before the three-day shoot. Production company Simon&Paul out of Hamburg got involved and I was working closely with the production designer Ann-Kristin Buettner and my DOP Khalid Mohtaseb to bring my vision to life. I was extremely fortunate to have Khalid on board. Early on we discussed our visual approach. We wanted the images to be simplistic and decided on finding beauty in minimalism. The color palette would be a reduced one but featuring the strong red, I mentioned before, Khalid brought his unique style to this project and was an integral part of bringing this idea to life.

Casting the film was a difficult task. I had to find the right personalities for the film, always trying to keep in mind their equivalents from Genesis. The female lead for example had to embody both the perplexed girlfriend who is left alone in the bathtub because her boyfriend is drawn to the basketball court and a wrathful God who lost control over one of his angels who plots his comeback from hell. 🙂

We were on a tight budget and had only three shooting days

The challenges on this film were manifold. We were on a tight budget and had only three shooting days on locations that were very far apart. We had live animals on set and naturally their well-being and the performers’ safety come first. Time constraints, logistic difficulties and challenging locations made it an absolute necessity to come prepared. In the end we pushed through and were able to get all the shots we needed using a multitude of cameras such as the Sony Venice and Arri Alexas.

Joseph Bicknell of Company 3 fused it all together brilliantly in the grade. Final touches were made at the Berlin sound studios of Ginger x MassiveMusic. They provided music and sound design that draws inspiration from many different cultures. Having had the chance to gather that kind of creative talent and guide their work towards the final outcome has been a privilege I deeply cherish