The A-List: Sam Kristofski makes hallucinogenic films with briefcase deals

July 08, 2014
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Hijacked presents The A-List, a series that delves into the ideas, influences and idiosyncrasies of arty folk.

New Zealand born creative Sam Kristofski makes film that is dreamy, sensual and sometimes hallucinogenic. In the last few years, he's directed music videos for Kiwi and Australian bands The Babe Rainbow, Shapeshifter, Bic Runga, Opossum and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. His assured aesthetic also transfers to commercial work, and he's gotten away with making some pretty weird stuff for clients like Mentos and Uniqlo. Hijacked spoke to Sam about making videos, collaborating with friends, and his fascination with mysterious briefcases.

HJCKD: What was the first film that made you think ‘hey, I want to do that for a living’?

Sam Kristofski: I guess the first film that I made with my brother and my best friend. It was called Wayne Hogan the Bogan. I was 13. 

HJCKD: Did you study at university of TAFE, and what was the #1 thing you took away from that study?

SK: I studied at International Film School Sydney (IFSS) for two years, but I think the only thing that I achieved there was flying my plane in flight simulator across the Tasman. 

HJCKD: Film or digital?

SK: Film all the way – it’s more exciting. My ideas are better when I’m shooting film as I have a scale to work to. It looks better too. And it’s super expensive, so you can’t make something bad. Otherwise, it’s not just a waste of time, it’s a waste of money.

HJCKD: Tell us about ‘The Deal’. What is it and why do you have so many briefcase exchanges in your work?

SK: Well, my friends and I snuck into a construction site in Lindfield a few years ago. We packed a Batman and a Mexican costume into a briefcase, and our aim was to make a movie before we had to return the gear in the morning.

I dressed as Batman and Steve dressed as the Mexican. Then we didn’t know what to do, until Steve had the idea of passing me the briefcase. So we made a short film about Batman passing some Mexican dude a briefcase and it was really funny. I thought ‘this is it, this is humour in its most raw form. I can’t stop doing this action. It’s perfect’.

I just find it really, really, really funny.  If I see a deal in real life, I will probably die.

HJCKD: What would you do if you could make a music clip for any song ever written?

SK: Probably something like ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ by Connan Mockasin. I’d have heaps of dolphins riding jet skis, making bad deals and smoking.

HJCKD: You collaborate with friends a lot. What’s one memory of working with mates that you’ll always remember?

SK: There are way too many. I think this is what’s best about making music videos. I used to shoot them in one day to save money and try be real pro and all, but I think you should only do that on a commercial. I like to shoot over a week now and just get my friends to help me out. Making the video is the best part. So many funny ‘remembers’ have happened.

HJCKD: What’s your Top 6 A-Listers of the creative world?

SK: Nobody really surprising, but in the last few years it’s been Jim Jarmusch, Connan Mockasin, Jonathan Glazer, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and Tom Kuntz.


You can view Sam Kristofski's full body of work on his website or Vimeo.