If Satan came to earth, how would he rebrand his devilish image? That's the subject of this tongue-in-cheek mockumentary, made on a purposely low budget.
Whether you're religious or just intrigued by the idea of one man personifying all evil, Satan has fascinated humanity and been a central figure in art and literature for centuries. Even today, he's all over modern streaming entertainment, from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to Lucifer (both currently available on Netflix).
So you might think it's impossible to find a new take on this figure, also known as The Devil, Beelzebub or The Prince of Darkness. But photographer and director Robert Lang's first feature film does just that.
Mind Body & Soul is a horror-comedy mockumentary in which Satan, played by Conr Kinman, tries to adapt again to a modern society that he may not fit into. With tongue firmly in cheek, it uses humour, wit, 'factual' history, and flashback imagery to retell the story of how the Devil came to be.
In the movie, Satan invites a camera crew to his home in modern-day West Hollywood to reintroduce himself to society and set the record straight. Unfortunately, they are just about to discover that Satan has just been kicked out of Hell. The documentary then changes direction as Satan goes on a path of reinvention, rebranding, and figuring out who he really is and who he wants to be.
Award-winning Australian actress and comedian Melissa Bergland – known for Winners & Losers, Into the Dark and Relative Happiness – stars as Mimi Wilde, who's hired to market and rebrand to the world the new and improved Satan.
Along the way, the film highlights current subjects like social media and spirituality while including sub-characters like demons and witches to add to the mythology of the past and update them for the 21st century without prejudice.
"The project started as myself and Conr Kinman were bored during the pandemic in 2020," recalls director Robert Lang. "So, for fun, we made a short film of Satan being interviewed for the first time in his apartment in Los Angeles. It eventually became a full-feature film, and production wrapped in November 2021.
"We wanted to imagine what Satan had to say now and how he would tell his story today after being in the shadows for all these years," he adds. "I researched Satanism for months so that it was an accurate portrayal of the subject and so that I had an educated understanding of the religion.
"I liked the idea of possibly educating people and not turning it into a knee-slapping comedy. I wanted to avoid making fun of any religion, but instead, focus on who Satan was through history and possibly who he possibly wants to be now... obviously by my own interpretation!"
It's a landmark project for the director, whose short films have been screened globally at film festivals and who's also worked as a fashion week photographer for The Daily Mail and had solo photo exhibitions in London, The Netherlands and Russia.
Interestingly the film, which runs for one hour and 20 minutes, was made on a micro-budget of under $15,000 and the crew was kept small so that the feel of a documentary would feel authentic. Specifically, the full production involved only a DP (director of photography), a sound operator and a gaffer (chief electrician) on set throughout the seven-day shoot.
Director of Photography Bryce Platz has a background in documentary filmmaking, having worked on several Netflix documentaries, including The Pez Outlaw, Bad Vegan, Operation Varsity Blues and The Legend of Cocaine Island, as well as the HBO documentary Alabama Snake.
Sound was scored and designed by Jack D. Elliot, an industry veteran who's worked with artists including Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Kelly Rowland, and Dolly Parton, as well as creating original scores for networks like ABC, Lifetime and Bravo. The gaffer was Justin Roxbrough, and the sound boom operator was Dennis Grzesik.
Mind Body & Soul will be released later this year.