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The Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 18–28 2024.

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Sundance Interview with REALM OF SATAN Director: Scott Cummings

 

By Emmanuel Itier

I remember meeting Peter H. Gilmore, the high priest of the Church of Satan when I was doing a documentary about the notion of “God”. I had to admit I was quite puzzled by this intriguing gentleman and his approach of satanism which goes against the notion of scarifying children on the alter or killing a virgin. Furthermore, I learned that their approach was more about rebelling against the politically correct approach of life in general. Remember that Satan was a “rebel” who confronted God as an Angel and then was banned from Heaven. Even so I’m still wondering about the notion of God and Evil, God and Satan, I must admit that Peter and his flock have a legitimate point and a genuine approach about leading the life they choose to lead. Comes Sundance 2024 with a documentary about the Church of Satan: ‘The Realm of Satan’ (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12309944/ ) directed by maestro Scott Cummings who took such a mesmerizing David Lynch approach to film a very intriguing and captivating Documentary. I reached out to my friend Peter H. Gilmore to congratulate him about this collaboration and here are the thoughts coming from Director Scott Cumming.

Q: So, what brought you to this project? How did it come together?

 

Scott: Actually, I did, previously, a movie about a local subculture in my hometown. It was very similar with this project. It was a collaboration with a group of people who had an extreme reputation. After I finished that I wanted to find someone who had a cultural cache and who was so unique. I wanted to find someone and a group of people who were provocative. And somewhat I found The Church of Satan. They have been floating in my consciousness for many years. On a selfish level it’s fun to go down these rabbit holes and learn about different things. Being older and having a kid, I needed an excuse to pursue my esoteric interest. And so, I reach out to Peter Gilmore, who I know you know. And I was surprised he wrote back to me. I told him it would be an unconventional film. As you know, Peter is quite a cinephile. I told him it will not be the usual film you’re approached about and that this will be quite an art film. I think it’s a film people won’t expect because it’s so different. It matches the intention of The Church of Satan who wants to be provocative, pushing things forward, challenging certain norms. Peter came on board, and this was the start of our relationship to put together this movie. We became good friends in the process.  

 

Q: Tell me about the various challenges putting this film together?

 

Scott: The film has a lot of people so there was a challenge at building a clear and moving forward narration that made sense. Also, it takes place in a lot of different places, so logistic was complex to capture every segment I needed. The schedule was intense. Getting people behind the film, to support it financially was also a challenge. But some people didn’t get what we were trying to achieve even so I was so clear at explaining our vision.

 

Q: What is the movie truly about for you? What’s the takeaway?

 

Scott: Because The Church of Satan is a mysterious organization and a provocative organization. And the word satanism is so evocative. It’s more about getting people’s imagination going. The whole idea of the film is to be evocative, to evoke something even if the audience doesn’t know what it is. It’s about making a non-fiction film that is not about imagination at the end but about evocation. It’s to give the audience an experience like a mystery. There is a lot of information on the internet about satanism and there are lots of books about it. But with this film it’s about the experience of seeing what you can’t necessarily access and processing that. I compare it to the first big satanic event I went to with several hundred people there. It was in a hotel ballroom and there was a naked woman on an altar. And I was wondering what the experience for the waiters was catering the food and going back and forth in this place. What is their experience? And I’m sure these waiters still talk about this strange experience they went through, that day. For the audience I want them to be surprised and experience the same thing that the waiters experienced at this event. It’s about the second film people are making in their head after watching our movie.

 

Q: How did this film transformed you after making it? What changed in you?

 

Scott: I took a lot from satanism. I applied some things from satanism in my life. I look at things differently. I wasn’t part of any alternative culture like this one, before. I took a lot from the philosophy of satanism. I now feel very connect to Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia. They are very good friends.

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Ambiance from Park City Sundance film Festival January 20 - 30, 2022.

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