Young Greek director defies the constraints in first fantasy drama
By Alexander Clapp
He may not have had access to the kind of funding that the makers of “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” film series did, but that didn’t stop director Thanos Kermitsis from taking the plunge into an expensive genre to produce Greece’s first-ever full-length fantasy drama.
“Indomitable” (Adamastos), written and directed by the 28-year-old Kermitsis and released last month, is the first installment of the Dragonphoenix Chronicles, a science-fiction series set in the World of Elebros.
The film follows the quest of a once-famous warrior as he tries to escape captivity and reunite with his family.
Kermitsis graduated in 2010 from New York College in Athens with a degree in film and TV studies. “Indomitable” is his first full-length feature film and was crowdfunded.
What are your artistic influences? Do you see yourself as working in the tradition of a certain famous director/author/artist?
I would say that most of my influences derive from literature, comic books, films and everyday experiences. I wouldn’t exactly admit to following in the footsteps of a certain director in terms of narrative style, but there are many film directors that I admire. Certainly I’m influenced by American directors, but I’m also trying to find my own unique way of telling a story.
Who is the ideal viewer for “Indomitable”?
Well, the film will certainly appeal to fantasy viewers, but in all the screenings of the film thus far I’ve seen men and women aged from 8 to 80. That’s something that took me by surprise: People that were fans of other fantasy films loved it, but also viewers that had no previous attachment to the genre.
Despite being a fantasy film – an adventure movie complete with swords and sorcery – I believe that “Indomitable” has a strong message that can appeal to just about everyone. This is the power of the so-called “human spirit” and the “will” that we all must possess in order to overcome the various “monsters” and “obstacles” that stand between us and our goals.
What was the most challenging aspect of filming “Indomitable”?
I’d probably say that it was the actual decision to make a film of that genre in Greece – especially during this economic crisis. But, as that decision was made fairly impulsively, I’d say that the most challenging part of making this film was trying to find creative ways around our budget, which was just 10,000 euros. In other words, not to allow our budget to prevent us from making the film, but instead to shoot for an end product that would appear more “expensive” than it truly was.
How do you see the current state of the arts in Greece? Has the crisis limited or expanded their appeal?
Throughout history – and particularly in times of crisis – the arts have always found their way. New things, new artists have a way of constantly emerging. I really don’t believe that the crisis has lessened the appeal of the arts. But it does set new constraints on an artist’s ability to create – whether it is a film, a novel or a play. You just have to find creative new ways to approach your budget and the circumstances of your times.
Why did you choose fantasy? And why do you think Greek directors have typically stayed away from the genre?
Greece has no real tradition of fantasy films, it’s true. I think that’s generally because Greek directors and audiences tend to believe that these films require a whole lot of money to make. They’d rather not go down that road. And they’re right. These films do require a substantial budget. But it all boils down to the story you want to tell. I don’t personally see myself doing a film about life during the crisis or other themes of that nature.
Any plans for future projects?
At the moment I’m considering doing something similar to “Indomitable,” albeit on a smaller scale. The script will be written by my good friend and fellow director Haris Gioulatos. It will be set in Greece during World War II. Plans are also in the works to make a postapocalyptic film set in the future. And why not? If all goes according to plan, I’ll probably return to the World of Elebros for the sequel of “Indomitable.” Time will tell.