Kris Krainock

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Europe Film Festival U.K. spoke exclusively with Kris Krainock to discuss Bizzarro e Fantastico

Hey, first of all, congratulations,  you are one of the winners of the Europe Film Festival U.K. What do you feel?

Well, firstly, thank you! Everyone involved in Bizzarro e Fantastico is very humbled and appreciative that we were chosen as “Best Short Film.” I mainly feel touched that people are connecting to the film in what I hope is a meaningful way.

What gave you the inspiration to write and direct this story?

There are a few different layers of inspiration that resulted in Bizzarro e Fantastico coming into existence. The first, and most practical, is that I was going to be in Rome, Italy – trying to secure funding for a feature film project titled MADAME X. I had been to Rome previously and it was always a goal of mine to make a film there. Being rather frustrated with the long process of chasing movie financing, I decided it was time to just make something. And being a life-long admirer of the mid-century European cinema of Fellini, Pasolini, and Bergman, I instinctively understood that Bizzarro was my chance to make a film that would function as, among other things, a love letter to that era of cinema. Finally, I knew I wanted my film to be ‘about’ a personal belief; the need to create our own meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe… but that’s not a movie. Then I remembered a very strange and funny dream I once had, where The Grim Reaper itself appeared to me while sitting on my toilet. This amusing juxtaposition evolved into the narrative framework for Bizzarro: ‘Death’ becoming ill after eating the soul of a Frenchman – their souls being as rich as their cuisine. Well, when that idea came to me, I thought, now that’s a movie.  

What were the challenges in shooting this movie?

Every film comes with its own unique challenges; this film came with its own unique, unique challenges… I decided early on that if I was going to make a film in Italy, I was going to make a proper Italian film. In Italian. The problem is, I don’t speak the language. I also didn’t have a budget, access to equipment in Italy, or a production staff. In the end, I was my only crew member; writing, directing, producing, designing shots, operating camera, lighting, and recording sound entirely on my own. The equipment used fit inside a carry-on suitcase. The actors, in both Italy and France, had to learn the lines exactly as they were written, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to edit the film later. Finding the performers and locations before I arrived in Europe, getting the script authentically translated, and figuring out the logistics of shooting in two countries, in two languages, within five days, all on top of trying to tell a thoughtful and original story – well, it’s safe to say that Bizzarro comes as close to an authentic miracle as I’m willing to believe in. 

Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back or tell a particular story or not do something else? Why or why not?

This is a difficult question because you’re forced to speak in generalities. I think the only responsibility the filmmaker at large has is to make a good movie. Whether it’s smart or dumb, experimental or mainstream, art or entertainment – does it work or doesn’t it? But for me, personally, as a filmmaker, I do feel I must use my position of influence to put thoughtful, meaningful, challenging, and provocative questions into the world. Filmmakers don’t change things in the concrete, but they do steer the conversation in the abstract, and this is a responsibility to the culture that I don’t take lightly. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?

Only take advice from highly vetted and trustworthy people who understand the intricacies of your specific path within the industry – and even more restrictive; only accept their advice for the most immediate and practical of situations. All other advice is meaningless at best, harmful at worst. This is because you’re either receiving it from people who consciously or unconsciously want you to fail, or you’re getting it from people who love you and want to protect you. Unfortunately, only mediocrity is safe. So, do you research, learn everything there is to learn, formulate a plan and then execute that plan with a tunnel-vision that rivals the mammal best known as the subterranean mole. 

Are you working on a new project at the moment or are you planning to? Is there anybody you’d like to thank?

I am actually working on a handful of projects as Bizzarro continues its festival journey. Our next big, independent undertaking is a feature-film titled BIPOLAROID – a psychological thriller wrapped in a period noir mystery. We’re in production as we speak. In Paris, I’m working with Producer/Actress Julie Zeno – of Bizzarro’s opening scene – and director Aurore Kahan on an original play, L’IMPOSTEUR, that I’ve written. And now that COVID is finding its place within our daily lives, and the industry is back in full swing, we’re hoping that Bizzarro, Bipolaroid and L’imposteur contribute to the successful execution of MADAME X – a project near and dear to my heart. In 2018, I received the incredibly rare and life-changing honor of being invited to the home of Stanley Kubrick to meet with his widow, Christiane Kubrick. While there, she granted me the use of her original works of art to be featured prominently in the set design of Madame X – the very same art featured in several of her husband’s masterpieces.

With regards to whom I’d like to thank; Bryan Paulson, Bizzarro’s Editor & Colorist. Without him, Bizzarro would just be vacation footage stored on dusty memory cards. Our friendship, which has cemented over the post-production period of Bizzarro, may be the element of this experience for which I’m most grateful. He is now my principal collaborator and the DP of Bipolaroid. I’d also like to thank my long-time best friend, frequent writing/producing partner, and the executive producer of Bizzarro, Dylan Gallagher. Making it in this industry is like wading through a thickly dense jungle. It’s nice when someone beside you is also throwing a machete. I’d like to thank all the actors in the film, but especially Cosimo Tomaiuolo, who made the actual filming of the movie possible. His enthusiasm, professionalism, talent, and his downright hospitality made production the joyous experience it was. Special thanks to the legendary Hollywood camera operator, Lou Barlia, who has become a close confidant and who served on Bizzarro as a technical consultant. And finally, I would like to thank my friend, iconic gaffer Jim Plannette, who has been a constant source of inspiration and education. His tireless support in virtually every aspect of my career since we met, has, in many ways, reaffirmed things about my aspirations in this industry that were before just ignorantly held personal beliefs. He is also attached to Madame X as Gaffer and I can’t thank him enough. Oh, and of course, I would like to thank everyone at Europe Film Festival U.K. You guys are awesome!