The Cinematography Podcast Episode 184: Kays Al-Atrakchi

At long last, we welcome longtime friend and multi-hyphenate filmmaker, Kays Al-Atrakchi to the Cinepod!

Kays feels there are film composers who love music and composers who simply love movies. He himself absolutely loves all things film. Born in Florence, Italy, Kays started to get interested in music as a kid and picked up a soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Inferno in a local record store because he liked how the cover looked. It didn’t sound like anything he’d ever heard before, and he decided to listen to more movie soundtracks. Then he bought the soundtrack for John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, and found he could replicate the soundtrack on his keyboard at home. His only connection to Dario Argento and John Carpenter was through the music, since he wasn’t able to see their movies.

As a teen, Kays’ family moved from Italy to Orlando, Florida. He continued to pursue his love of film, music, and composition, and attended Berklee College of Music to learn film scoring. He began scoring student films in Orlando, where he met future friends and collaborators Ben Rock, Dan Myrick, Ben Hershleder, and many others before relocating to Los Angeles. He has composed the soundtracks for several of Ben’s movies, including Alien Raiders. For Kays, composing is more about interpreting someone’s vision and trying to elevate it, and to create through music an emotional connection with the audience.

Kays felt unfulfilled as a filmmaker, so between film scoring jobs, he decided to make his own short, Appntmnt, followed by another short, In Lucidity. For In Lucidity, Kays simply didn’t have the budget to hire someone to create all the visual effects he wanted, so he taught himself how to do all the special effects and color grading by watching YouTube videos. Filmmaking technology has progressed so much, he feels confident that with enough time and self-education, a filmmaker can learn any aspect of moviemaking. Kays loves the collaborative nature of film, but as an independent filmmaker, he finds he has to do the bulk of the work on his projects alone out of necessity rather than a desire to work solo. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned and has created Right Brained Tutorials, a YouTube channel for other filmmakers to learn visual effects.

Kays’ latest short horror directing project, Everbliss Inn, will be streaming in November. Kays wrote, directed, composed the music, color graded, and created the VFX for the film.

You can hear original theme music by Kays throughout The Cinematography Podcast.

Find Kays Al-Atrakchi:



Instagram: @kaysfilmmaker

YouTube tutorial channel, Right Brained Tutorials

Close Focus: The social media upset by racist fans over characters played by Black people in recent fantasy and fiction projects like HBO’s House of the Dragon, Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series, and Disney’s upcoming live action movie version of The Little Mermaid.

On the positive side, check out the reactions young Black girls had to seeing the new trailer for The Little Mermaid. This clearly shows that representation matters.

Ben’s short end: The legacy of Woody Allen’s film career as he gets ready to retire. He has since announced he won’t be retiring.

Illya’s short end: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, an incredible anime series on Netflix.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz


Podcast Credits:

Producer: Alana Kode

All web and social media content written by Alana Kode

Host and editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman

Instagram: @illyafriedman @hotrodcameras

Host: Ben Rock

Twitter: @neptunesalad

Instagram: @bejamin_rock

Editor: Ben Katz

Composer: Kays Al-Atrakchi

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