Ray Harryhausen unleashed much more than the Kraken in the visual effects industry. He unleashed wonder and inspiration. Ancient legends like Titans or the mythical foes of Jason and Sinbad miraculously burst onto screens breathing new life into the Hollywood Epic and making audiences believe anything was possible with movie magic.
One filmmaker inspired by that magic is Shahin Sean Solimon. Shahin stars in a new spiritual sequel to Harryhausen’s films Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage. Shahin and his company Giant Flik Films take the helm on the ambitious production utilizing a complex combination of digital effects and techniques Harryhausen pioneered. This has made the production process both a labor of love and painstakingly long. Besides forswearing modern vfx what makes Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage unique is its diverse cast that is much more culturally consistent with a tale of Sheherazade than the racebending used in casting calls of other proposed big budget takes on Sinbad’s story.
Shahin was kind enough to step away from the editing room to talk about the legacy of the late Ray Harryhausen as well as his own film, which he hopes to relase this summer.
Can you explain the fascination with the techniques of Ray Harryhausen and why you chose to incorporate them into this film.
Yes, growing up I was a huge fan of the creatures and fantasy world that Ray created. I think it may have launched many individual’s imagination. We decided to use stop-motion technology because, quite frankly we are getting a tad tired of CGI animation and we thought it would be a good way to re-introduce it to the youngsters.
Does this film serve as a spiritual successor to the Sinbad films we all grew up on? Or is this an independent tale linked to the legend?
Yes, It kind of serves as a spiritual successor and throw back to the ’50s and ’60s monster movies but with it’s own flavor. It also touches on the stories of the Arabian Nights but we threw in our own interpretation.
Hollywood has an unwholesome tradition of taking stories like Sinbad or The Prince of Persia and casting white actors for the lead role. Why do you think this is? And do you feel cultural context is important when presenting a tale like Sinbad?
Basically Hollywood uses a formula. i.e: Genre:”X”+Actor”xx”+Supporting Cast “xyx”=$$$
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The authenticity of a picture can become vague to the audience when you keep using these formulas which is why you don’t see many Star Wars type births anymore. When the production is left in the hands of the filmmaker then most of the time you get something interesting, including casts that match the picture. Its a more authentic work of art where new talent is discovered naturally rather than to serve a bottom line.