AFI’s Nosferatu, Symphony of Horror: Q & A with James White

The show will be accompanied by live music.


When Halloween lovers head to the American Film Institute (AFI) Friday evening for the Nosferatu show, based on the book Dracula, they will be in for a treat.

James White will be hosting for the 90th anniversary of the film. White has been a part of the Washington, DC metro area media for more than 36 years.

White is currently a news/traffic anchor and reporter with Silver Spring-based Total Traffic Network and Metro NewsSource.

White sat down with Patch to talk about hosting for the AFI.

Tamika Smith: How many years have you been hosting Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror? 

James White: This represents my 8th year hosting this showing of the earliest film presentation based on Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", and it is a silent film, with live musical accompaniment.

Smith: How do you keep your presentation fresh for an audience that
anticipates this movie every year?

White: One thing that's important for me is to always realize that some in the audience may be seeing this film for the first time, so I always approach it in that respect, by giving a history of the movie itself, the fact that it's the first presentation of Dracula on film, somewhat, and what that led to after the showing originally in March of 1922.  That's what I think keeps repeat viewers coming back, as well as the fact that the back story comes as a complete surprise to those seeing it for the first time.  Every year I try to find out more information on the performers, and the circumstances surrounding the movie, which in itself is can be looked at as a nightmare for some involved.  That's all I can say to that, for the full story, you need to come see the show tonight.  :-)

Smith: What is the most enjoyable part of hosting Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror for you?

White: The most enjoyable part is telling the story, watching the audience reaction to the film, and most importantly, enjoying the live musical accompaniment, this year being performed by Not So Silent Cinema, a Boston-based quintet that adds a Klezmeer feel to the film.  This will be my first time hearing their score of the film, in the past the film was scored and we had live accompaniment by Silent Orchestra for about six years, and last year the live performance was done by the Alloy Orchestra.  I must say I've never been disappointed by the orchestration, it has always added to the beauty of the film.

Smith: Any surprises the audience can look forward to this year. Maybe, you dressing up as Dracula?

White: I think the surprise will be in the performance of the Not So Silent Cinema, especially for those who have come to see the movie before.  As far as my dressing the part of "Dracula", that's something I added to my repertoire about three years ago, and it has gone over well, so you can definitely expect that.  Let me add that the film scarred the bejeebers out of the 1922 audience, especially some of the special effects used at the time.  It still catches some audiences off guard to this day.

Smith: This last question is a Patch favorite. What is a quirky song on your ipod that your fans would be suprised to know you listen to?

White: I can list 2 quirky songs that are especially appropriate for tonight, one is "Dracula" by the Jimmy Castor Bunch, and the second is "Swamp Witch" by Jim Stafford.  Both are delightful to listen to, especially the comedic turn Jimmy Castor brings to the Dracula tune, and the story-telling involved in Jim Stafford's Swamp Witch.  Give them both a listen.


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