24 Hours With Adam Csoka Keller
This is a snapshot into the life of filmmaker and director Adam Csoka Keller. Literally.
Why are you a filmmaker?
The starting point for each of my films is an absolute obsession about a concept or an idea. Unless the concept has crept under my skin and it’s all I think about, I know it’s not for me. The obsession becomes a natural part of my everyday life with the experiences that come my way. The process of filmmaking has now become a natural way of expressing my over-active imagination and I cannot imagine my life without it.
What makes a good fashion film?
I think of fashion-film very much as a medium that breaks the rules of traditional filmmaking. A good fashion film is the one that takes risks, brings the past to the future, and the future to the present. It’s all now, and also never. I am planning to work on a fashion film with a Berlin based 3D studio later in the year, not necessarily to achieve visual perfection, but rather explore and celebrate technical errors while pursuing digital surrealism. I place a great deal of importance to the ‘’mistakes’’ that often occur in the process of experimentation that drive the fashion film into a new direction.
Who or what drives your creativity?
Obsession, curiosity and motivation.
What's the most exciting thing about film making today?
The fashion world is definitely one of the larger motors in the fast-paced machine we are living in. It constantly morphs and adapts itself to employing experimental techniques not only in the design and production but responds to the technological advancements of the creative industries.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always knew it was going to be something that involves a lot of traveling and storytelling. I remember the moments of closing myself in the attic of my grandparents’ house every summer with my best friend. We would use that attic as our canvas or set and all the dusty artefacts from the Soviet era as our props to build the story. I never chose a career in moving image somehow I ended up here through many years of experimentation with different roles on set. Somehow I still find it surreal how it lead me all the way here!
How has your background influenced who you are today?
I would say being born on the edge of the fall of communism with experiencing a fresh wave of references from the West with an upbringing in a country struggling to find it’s new identity definitely left an impact on me and the way I connect my references together. I still look back to my childhood memories for inspiration and try to travel to the Eastern part of Europe as much as I can to latch on to new textures, colour palettes or just observe everyday situations. In fact I am currently on location scouting trip around the Eastern part of Ukraine. Other than that, balancing between London and Berlin whilst finishing my education at Central Saint Martins and the exposure to some of the incredible references I draw from until this day, definitely had an impact on me and allowed me to become the person I am today.
How would you describe your films?
It’s difficult to describe the overarching aesthetic or a theme that connects all the films as I feel with every project I evolve and the films evolve with me. If I’d have to describe them to you in this instance – elegantly creepy with a hint of hopeless romance with a colour palette rooted in a post cold-war upbringing.
Who do you consider to be the true creatives in the world?
The people that are not afraid to take risks.
Why is creativity important now more than ever?
Because it allows us to understand the world and practice kindness not only to ourselves but to our surroundings in the process of creating.
Your favourite place in the world and why?
My grandparents’ house. Every time I am confronted with a difficult situation on set, I channel that inner child still playing in the attic. That immediately gives me perspective and makes working with a huge team looking at you for decisions that much easier.
How do you waste time, when your schedule is clear?
I disappear completely from time to time and allow enough space for myself and my cleansing rituals.
What’s your greatest ambition?
Creating honest work without any restrictions.
Who do you most admire and why?
The people that sacrifice their lives for making this planet into a better place while we all take part in this fast-paced projection. The people that are not afraid to speak up with a strong message and devote their every day existence into making a change in this world. I have recently worked a short film DIVA with a cast consisting of primarily LGBTQIA+ actors and musicians and process of gathering research through the intimate moments we shared on and off set have left an incredibly strong impact on me. I have to say if each and every one of the unique characters in this film would be in charge of ruling this world, I promise you we would be living in a better place.
What would you like to do that you currently can’t?
Limitless possibilities and resources to create the work that I know I am not yet ready to produce.
\What would you most like to change about the world?
I’d like for the majority of the population to be more conscious of their every day actions.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
Less analyzing and questioning in my personal life, it tends to restrict me from taking a decision sometimes. Luckily on set I am able to listen to my intuition and respond to the sometimes difficult situations that tend to appear. I’d like to be able to translate that into my personal life.
If you could ask anyone a question (living or dead), who would you ask, and what would you ask?
Jung & Dali in conversation on the relationship between dreams and myths. I would probably ask them how to work with the echoes and fragments visible in my dreams and try to use Jung’s a deep understanding between dream and myth. The dream is the birthplace of many of the ideas in your dreams you have the capacity of seeing things that are normally not present. I’d probably ask them on advice how to build a stronger connection between dreams, myths and the subconscious and translate their advice into storytelling.
Who is someone (living or dead) that you would like to meet? And why?
Difficult question…. I guess my answer would vary depending on the project I am working on. I’d probably want to meet Gregor Samsa - The man in Kafka’s Metamorphosis transforming into "a large verminous insect " which is in fact writer himself. Dream logic and contradictions abound in Kafka’s work filled with humor and matter-of-fact handling of the absurd and the terrifying and I would like to understand the way he develops characters in his novels in order to become a better storyteller.
Who’s the coolest person you know and why?
I can’t name one. I am very much in love with all the incredible people I have around me with whom we have grown so much in life and in our creative practice. My work is almost never a one man’s show and that’s why I need to give them much love to receive all the love and support back.
The best advice you've ever been given?
Be kind, honest, humble and stay grounded.
First thing you do when you wake up?
Turn on soothing music while doing yoga.
Last thing you do before bed?
Palo Santo and meditation.
At the moment it’s Ivan Seal always and forever.
Björk - Hidden Place - the live orchestrated version at the Royal Opera House in London. Everything about this show is a masterpiece!
What are you reading right now?
Human, All Too Human - Friedrich Nietzsche
Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Most possibly on my way to or from the airport. If not there… somewhere around Kreuzberg, Berlin.
Dark storm green.
What would your last meal be?
Nuts, cheese and incredibly arranged bowls of beautiful and unusual fruits with a lots and lots of red wine and an aria sung by Maria Callas in the background of course.
Describe yourself in three words…
Melancholic, curious, nomad.
How would your friends describe you in three words?
Friendly giant, multitasking-octopus, Virgo!
London’s hidden gem…
Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington.
Berlin’s hidden gem…
The alley of plane trees shedding their bark nearby the Soviet monument in Treptower park.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
On set with my favourite team working on a project without any creative limitations.