By Dimithri Wijesinghe
A High School Junkies production, “The Knight Out” is a fresh new take on filmmaking and the meshed concepts of music video/action flick written and directed by Akash Sunethkumara. The short film-style production premiered on the High School Junkies YouTube channel on 3 July and has since been blowing up.
The unique visuals, novel concept, and the type of quality filmmaking we’ve now come to associate with Akash and his team are ever present throughout the production. Cinematographer Kasun Rathnasiri elevates the look and feel of the project and the score is certainly memorable, courtesy of iClown (iClown – www.instagram.com/iclownmusic/
We spoke to Akash about the making of The Knight Out and how they conceptualised an original idea and brought it to life. About the idea itself, Akash shared that as it was somewhat unfamiliar, the best he could do is compare their inspiration to something like Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and maybe a Michael Jackson music video.
He said the reason they chose to pursue this “action musical” was that they thought it would be best to return to their roots. With the group having gotten their big break with their first project – the 2016 action thriller short film “Eidetic” – and now, after having done a couple of horror flicks that have gone onto receive great acclaim, they’re back tackling something they do best with a fresh new twist.
Akash shared that they start each year off with a keyword and that this year, it was “foundation”, and that is what they have been working on. They have been putting together a fantastic team bringing their own flair, invaluable skills, and expertise to create something incredibly collaborative; laying the foundation for bigger and better things.
The Knight Out is an incredibly dynamic and vibrant visual treat, and while there are many things to marvel over, one thing that really stands out is the stunning set piece they created themselves – the chess set with chess pieces that are “Lankan-ised”. You can spot tuskers, which have replaced the knights, and a monk in place of the bishop; Akash added that they tried having Sigiriya as a stand in for the castle, but that didn’t quite work out.
Having gone down a rabbit hole when researching, he said he discovered the origins of chess to be rooted in India with it originally being called “Chathuranga”, an Easter egg you could look out for in your surely multiple viewings of the film.
It is these small intricacies that are staples in their filmmaking that makes the work by Akash and his team an elevated experience; the love of the craft and dedication seeps out through every crevice, and it’s something beautiful to witness that we as Lankans can be proud of.
The Knight Out was a fully self-funded project by the group. However, they do have big plans for the future. Taking into consideration their impressive track record, it’s no surprise their next step would be to finally attempt a feature-length project, and Akash shared that it is definitely in the works. In the meantime, you can expect another short film that is currently in pre-production, which they started on as soon as they wrapped up The Knight Out and also a music video for වංක රටා ft. Ravi Jay which was the ending title song for The Knight Out.