DOP Adam Krajczynski Talks A Reckoning
Adam Krajczynski. Remember that name as I am sure you will see it again; his talents as a cinematographer cannot go unrecognized. Shooting the little-seen (but that will hopefully be changing soon) film A Reckoning on an unbelievably tiny budget, Krajczynski’s vision is right there on the screen – beautiful, eerie, stunning and haunting.
Dread Central recently had the opportunity to interview the well-spoken and charming DOP while he was working in Spain. And he had plenty to say about cinematography and the, at times, hilarious making of A Reckoning (review here).
DC: Hello, Adam, and thank you for taking time out of your schedule to speak with Dread Central about your stunning work in Andrew Barker's film A Reckoning.
How about a little information about yourself first? Where are you from? Where did you attend school?
AK: Where to start...I am of Polish ethnic origin and a Nottingham lad born and bred. I went to Trinity School and Nottingham Trent University, and I pay the bills as a Multimedia Developer.
DC: How did you become a cinematographer? Just any nuggets of information you think our readers would find interesting.
AK: At the moment I am purely a Multimedia Developer that specializes in digital motion-storytelling and communication. Hopefully after I have shot ten films and people confuse my surname with Janusz Kaminski's - I can officially call myself a cinematographer!
DC: How did you come to be involved in A Reckoning?
AK: From the outset it was obvious that the project would be a Herculean undertaking, and Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best: “The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it - as long as you believe 100 percent.”
When Andrew asked me to join him in his quest to make A Reckoning, I knew he needed someone to rely on to get things done, and I believed 100 percent that I was that guy - so I said yes, and the rest is history.
DC: Once you read the script, did you already have an idea of how the film should look?
AK: We all knew the script was always just pieces of paper with text on it. The actual story was told with a visual vocabulary the roots of which maybe came from the works of painters like Jan Matejko and Konrad Krzyzanowski along with my own ideas which I developed whilst experimenting with short-form projects in my spare time. When you have a craftsman's philosophy, and mix it with a ultra-talented crew, a progressive minded captain like Andrew Barker, and a tremendously gifted performer like Leslie Simpson - you have the means to capture lightning in a bottle!
I was very interested in developing a visual impression of all of the characters. We used our limitations to our advantage to do this because it is also about what you do not show and what you do not light. It becomes organic, something greater than the sum of its parts. When you see Leslie's vision of the character - the impression of the physicality and what he is building behind his eyes, this is what you aim to capture with the tools at your disposal.
I would often joke that Les could command the screen without even being in the room and many-a-truths are told in jest!
DC: I know that given the shooting schedule and the budget, this film was a huge collaborative effort for everyone and several people have referred to you as Barker's 'right-hand man'. Aside from shooting and editing the picture, what else did you do on-set?
AK: The great thing about the 'A Reckoning' set was the tremendous camaraderie and solidarity that permeated throughout the production. We had the deck stacked against us from the outset, but on-set you couldn't tell. We all undertook different jobs and tasks; there was no room and no time for any pretentious nonsense. Multitasking is part of the process, and working to such a tight schedule in those conditions means you're forced to work quickly, for real, and not to make a fuss. Whereas sometimes you can find yourself working alongside people that make an Olympic sport out of time wasting and mouth-breathing - we were there to get the job done!
We also encouraged everyone to try their hand at different roles. We felt it vitally important that if people were willing to give up their time, skills and effort to help make this film, that they should be involved in every aspect of the process, and not left standing around feeling like a fifth wheel. There were only a few of us, but our quality outshone our quantity, maintaining respect for the crew was a big priority for myself and for Andrew.
The uncredited roles I am particularly proud of are my cameos. I share two very intimate scenes with The Lone Man...no one knows where, not even Andrew or Leslie...
DC: Did the director give you any instructions for how he wanted the film to look, or was the film's overall look inspired by something else entirely?
AK: I was very much left to my own devices, I work best that way and it took a lot of pressure off Andrew. I was always thinking about the Modernist theory of Unism, and along the way, I memorized pretty much the entire two weeks and was splicing it all together in my mind as filming progressed. We were shooting with a type of organicity, getting exactly what we needed and moving on. This methodology allowed us to develop and evolve as we progressed helping us to get around technical set-backs and the ever prevalent 'Sod's Law'...not to mention freeing up precious time for experimentation or the filming of extra scenes.
We eschewed what would be considered typical formula on how to structure and encouraged everyone to share ideas. Each day came with fresh inspiration and excitement. It was a great way to work!
Photo Credit: Neal Morgan
DC: Your work has been compared to that of Anton Corbijn, the Dutch photographer, music video and film director, and you have said you are an admirer of Werner Herzog. Did any of their influences sneak into the making of A Reckoning?
AK: I am incredibly flattered by the Anton Corbijn association, I am actually a little speechless...
It is very odd as well, as I know next to nothing of Corbijn's work apart from the fact that he spearheaded the Joy Division/Ian Curtis film 'Control' in my hometown, and some of it just around the corner from where I live!
Werner Herzog is a polyhistor that likes to get things done, and done well. His philosophy imbued the set of 'A Reckoning' with Leslie Simpson as our Klaus Kinski - the only difference being that both myself and Andrew are very willing and very eager to work with Leslie again, as opposed to Werner who planned on exploding Kinski's house with dynamite due to the extreme personal strain of their legendary collaborations over the years.
DC: What look were you trying to achieve with the film and its setting, which was quite creepy, in its way and the emotional roller coaster Leslie Simpson's character was on?
AK: The film is presented as a nothing hell-scape, where corridors lead nowhere and the tyranny of memory haunts sleep and dreams. The trick was to try and make less of it all, to shift and control pacing subtly and not pile on layers of sentiment or run contrary to the nature of the story. I wanted to give it a sordid, 'off-the-floor' look, to allow the viewers to get to know The Lone Man and his home visually, without us stuffing expository dialogue into his mouth. It was important that the reality of the film was interpretative, relativistic; where viewers can feel that underneath the skin of that empty world, monsters lie in wait...who or what these 'monsters' are, are up to the viewers to determine.