A film likely to do wonders for the sales of dishwashers, Kai Krause’s Just Married is a cautionary tale of how a perfectly normal day can turn into a life or death fight for survival at a moments notice. More accustom to filling the role of cinematographer on set, DN asked Kai to reflect on his experience of taking up the directorial reigns for the first time on this kitchen sink horror short.

I developed the idea a long time ago when the disposal in our house broke, but never did much with it. I am a cinematographer and writing/directing had never been seriously on my mind. My roommate at the time (Chris Condon) was a writer and we decided to put together a rough draft over a beer one night. That draft sat in my drawer for about two years. A few months ago, I found myself in a bit of a dry spell regarding commercial gigs and I decided to just go for it and use that free time to make something of my own.

I am good friends with the EPs at Virgin Soil (Malcolm Duncan) and Kite Rock Pictures (Fabien Colas). The guys decided to help me out and put together the shoot on a shoestring budget. The timeframe from me finding the script in my drawer and us getting the first shot was just over two weeks.

The shoot itself was intense. LA was in a crazy heatwave and my kitchen reached about 115 degrees by 11 am. I boarded the entire project like I am used to on commercials and it became apparent that in order to do this right, I’d need about 80 – 90 shots. It sounds crazy, but if you really look at the film, we hardly ever repeat a single angle. Given our tiny budget that meant around 40 shots a day, which is just stupid. I am used to the commercial workflow where my directors get nervous when we aim for more than 15.

Luckily, my entire set was full of friends I knew from my work as a cinematographer and they worked harder than any crew I’ve ever seen before. I am still astonished by how many people decided to donate their time and resources to make this happen, from the free Digital Sputnik lights to a friend’s paintings used in shot.

We shot on my Alexa Mini package with Cooke S4i lenses generously provided by my brilliant operator Chris Kistan. I wanted this to have a modern look and that meant saturation and high contrast. The set was lit almost entirely with Digital Sputnik units to give us complete color control on top of a vast output of light.

It became apparent that in order to do this right, I’d need about 80 – 90 shots.

The production design was lead by AFI fellow Roxy Hua, who made me repaint my kitchen before transforming it into the cozy and yet sophisticated place it is on film now. One of the trickier set-ups was the ‘underwater’ coverage. Roxy built a prop-sink out of an aquarium that allowed us to get the camera underneath the action and film Marie’s (Dakota Bailey) face through the water.

Post-Production was lead by my boyfriend (Omer Ben Shachar), who happens to be a fantastic editor. As a cinematographer, I am usually not involved in that process of filmmaking, so I relied heavily on his insights and ideas to mold this project into the right form. I am originally from Germany and took Just Married to Hamburg for post-sound. The guys at German Wahnsinn put the last polishing touches on everything last week.

I never thought I’d enjoy directing as well as shooting so much. I hope that the opportunity for another one comes around the corner soon!

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