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Conversation With: Sam Kristofski A phone call with (one of) our favorite Kiwi filmmakers

Interview: Cam Neate

God damn is there some talent down under Australia making films. From our very own Blake Myers to the big dogs like Take Waititi, there’s some serious creative timing in these films. We recently had the chance to pick the brain of yet another talented kiwi Sam Krisofski.

What Youth: When I look back all your videos and having been fortunate enough to stare at a couple of them, I’m always like, “Fuck these things turn out so good.” Have you even planned any of this? Or do you turn up at a shoot and you’re like so what are we doing? 

Sam Kristofski: Nah, never. If you plan, 9/10 of the time you’re not going to get what you planned. It’s like making a salad. If you’ve got the right ingredients then you’re going to have a good salad.

I had the same analogy. It was about a pizza. If you’ve got enough cheese, the pizza is always going to be good. Have you ever had a pizza that you’re like, “Oh that’s disgusting.”? 

No never.

I’m going to come back to the rules because I feel like there’s a lot of rules in filmmaking but you probably just are opposite. 

Yeah, if you’ve got budget then you have to do the rules and you have to do the planning.

So that’s for commercials and shit? 

Yeah.

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Let’s come back that. What things have gone wrong and what have you learned or what mistakes have you made?

I think when you get serious people are used to being paid or do it for money like straight away or they won’t want to work. So that’s always the worst. You get a lot of people who — because you’re working with beautiful models —  get a lot of dudes that come on set and say like, “Wanna hook up?” I’ve had heaps of that and then that creates that kind of weird chemistry and then you’re like, “Come man, what are you up to?” That’s happened quite a few times. Our DP’s are always the worst. That’s why I always stick with one DP because DPs are the worst.

So on that whole rules thing, camera’s assist, director, just all those dudes who hold tape and stuff…

Yeah, you don’t need those either. I’d rather do it myself.

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Let’s touch on your aesthetics and style and how that started.  What inspires the aesthetics of your pictures?

I came from making films. I was just doing what I wanted to do. I was just making things just how I’d make them, I guess. I made them with the idea that I wanted to do. I was really inspired by Chris Cunningham, like real technical tricks. Then I went away form that and started doing weird kind of story stuff. Then I did this music video for the band Oppossom called “Bad Meanies”

Blue Meanies?

Yeah she is Cody’s partner so she really liked it and so she met up with me. She was like, “Man, I love that stuff! Kinda seemed a little bit inspired by Godard.”  I had no idea who Godard was. So she gave me a bunch of old Godard films to watch and she told me to watch all of them. She said, “I want to do a music video and I want it to be real Godard esque?” So I watched all the films and rang up my friend, and he knew exactly who to hire because I just never watched films or anything. Then I watched it and I was like, “Woah! This is the best thing!” I loved everything about it. I became so obsessed with it because it was exactly how I wanted to make a movie. I had never shot on film before either. So I just got heaps of 16” millimeter film from Fuji. I researched the film that Godard used and so then I just tried to grade it similar to that and I shot it in one day. I was really nervous because I knew how expense it was to develop and so I was real scared that it was going to not look good. I got the results back and I could use everything, there was nothing I couldn’t use. I only had about a half an hour of footage and edited the music video in like thirty minutes. I got it in a single cut in like thirty minutes!

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Really? Was it because you were so hyped on the footage?

I was real hyped. It was so easy because you have footage to play with. Within three days it was finalized and done. I was sold on it after that. It’s like you edit while you’re filming. Everything I did after that was different because I was changing.

So you’re thinking more about your shots and more in that work flow?

Yeah. I just shot whatever and pick stuff out of it. Now, I just shoot it carefully. I shoot the mess instead of creating a mess and try to pick the good stuff out of that. And then I couldn’t go back after shooting that. I just had to keep shooting film. I couldn’t stop shooting film. Now I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough where I can start doing digital a bit.

What’s next? What’s happening after the album comes out? 

I’m doing a short film series at the moment. There a few potential people getting involved. We’ve done one episode. It’s kind of like the Famous Five and it’s got all sorts of different people that look for UFOs in the desert with scanners and stuff. They take photos of them and then they take them back to the UFO expert. He identifies the UFO and let’s them know if it’s real or not. It’s this little short film series so I’m doing that.

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Is it for something?

It’s for- I can’t really talk about it because I don’t know…

It’s being funded by someone?

Yeah, it’ll come out soon. Then, I’m doing my first digital performance music video this weekend. I never wanted to do it but then they offered it to me and I need to start doing that stuff a little bit to prove to people I can do it because I think they forgot I can do it. I’ve got a couple commercial things as well and finishing the feature and then I’ve got a few companies over in LA. I’ve got two short film scripts that I want to do this year. I think that’s it. My main goal is to make commercials and music videos. I don’t want to do them in a particular style, I want to do them like my own films. This past five years I’ve been trying to find what it is I like doing. I feel like I got it after just last year, I feel like I know what I want to do now. I know what type of films I want to write.

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