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December/January 2019

by Amber Beaton

Sam Kristofski: Just Shoot Me

by Amber Beaton

Sam Kristofski: Just Shoot Me

Sam Kristofski is a film director with a portfolio traversing photography, commercials, oddball short films and lots more besides. Among his numerous Kiwi music video clients over the years have been the likes of Bic Runga, Taste NasaShapeshifter, UMO and The Ruby Suns. 2018 has been a busy one with exceptional videos for Fazerdaze (Lucky Girl), Neil and Liam Finn (Back To Life), Broods (Peach), Pond (Sixteen Days) and Nakita (Sucka) among his output. Fellow video director Amber Beaton talked with him.

Filmmaker and video director Sam Kristofski has been playing with cameras since he was nine years old.

“I’ve always loved to tell stories or make up stories and it’s fun to do that through film. I love to entertain and get a reaction out of people.”

With music videos like Broods’ new Peach, an existential and chaotic look at old talk shows, Kristofski’s style and uniqueness shines through. Notably, he often chooses to shoot on film.

“I don’t really play by any rules, I just do what I want to do and I’m trying to do that for as long as possible.”

In an era when what remains of MTV plays more reality shows about disaster relationships and whatever shore people are up to, Kristofski believes music videos are just as important for bands as ever, as they’ve found a new home online.

“I think content, in general, is really important. People want to escape reality. In a music video, you can portray these artists that fans are obsessed with in strange and fantastical ways. It helps fans fantasise these weird realities that you can put the musicians into to make them less real.”

But how do bands find the perfect director that will understand them enough to put them in the perfect fantastical video?

“Do a video for $20 and start an aesthetic, so when you finally get your funding you know what you’re doing, and you have that crew and that family of creatives around.

“When you’re in the creative world you build this family, you do everything together. And that is the most important thing for a band. That’s how I approach filmmaking. I always work with the same people, we all create this family and that’s the best thing.”

Kristofski argues that the genius artist isn’t always the right choice for bands starting out.

“There are so many geniuses out there who are impossible to work with. Better to look for a director who’s easy to work with, because then you’re going to have fun, because that’s the main thing when you’re shooting – having fun.”

Of course, we’re not all art school students and when bands head into the unknown realm of videos it can be difficult to know exactly how to find those creatives who can help them achieve visuals to match their audio. Aside from taking advantage of NZMusician.co.nz’s free online Video Directors Directory, his advice for anyone looking for that perfect director? Harnessing the power of social media of course.

“One of the best platforms for finding directors is Instagram because you can go through and get a really good idea about who the person is and what their work is like. And you can hit them up directly, meet up with them and see if you get along with them. The other best way is to watch lots of music videos done locally and find one you like and find out who the director is.”

Kristofski’s own favourites have been videos he’s had fun making.

“I think my fave would be the Alexandra Savior Mystery Girl and Tom Lark’s Go Get A Job. The reason that Tom Lark was so much fun was because it was the most cowboy-style music video ever, and we bent the rules so much. He’s a really good friend and we got cars and just smashed them up on the beach. It was the first time I shot 35mm and it was really exciting, we couldn’t look back at the footage. And the song was so cool.

“It’s more about the experience. That Alexandra Savior video was also fun. At the time she was my gf and we got an Airbnb in Joshua Tree. We filmed all through the night. The song is spooky and cool. It’s my favourite song I’ve done a clip for and it was written by her and Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys. Out real late in the night, I felt like I was in a weird David Lynch music video and like I was starring in it as well!”

kristofski.com