The road to becoming an artist, specifically a filmmaker, is that all-important first step. That first step in James D. Watkins’ short film, The Genius & The Darkness, is the germination of an idea presented in drawings and music. The film conceives of a cataclysmic clash that may have occurred between the “Genius” Nikola Telsa and his “Dark” counterpart, Aleister Crowley.
Dreaming of a confrontation between the two, filmmaker Watkins first guides us through a history of the two figures contrasting their histories and accomplishments. He then paints a picture through archival images and drawings by Watkins and sets the stage with classical music. Though the two most likely never met, they were alive at the same time in England.
“…a cataclysmic clash that may have occurred between the ‘Genius’ Nikola Telsa and this ‘Dark’ counterpart, Aleister Crowley.”
The Genius & The Darkness is very low budget in its execution. The sound and Watkins’ voiceover don’t precisely match, but the film captures the filmmaker’s fascination with Tesla and Crowley. The overall short feels like a proof of concept of a much bigger story and is often reminiscent of Walt Disney’s Night on Bald Mountain segment from Fantasia.
In a brief conversation I had with Watkins, he remarked on the idea “that these men actually existed in different time periods sparked my imagination to pit them against each other because Britain considered Aleister Crowley, a dark genius who could assist them with unknown magical powers and of course, Nikola Tesla, only wanted to bring his light unto the world. I conjured an imaginary conceptual idea of a time when these two men faced each other with the world’s fate in the balance.” The Genius & The Darkness reflects that idea well.
For more information about The Genius & The Darkness, visit the Phoenix Productions official website.
"…like a proof of concept of a much bigger story..."