Kristian Ozer Kettner is a highly-skilled filmmaker from Denmark. He is also one of our top-selling filmmakers, and by browsing his Artgrid page, it's easy to understand why. With flawless techniques and attention to detail, Kettner is producing some of the highest-quality stock footage around, and we feel lucky to work with him.
We wanted to get to know Kristian better, so we asked him some questions about what inspires him, his creative process and plans for the future.
1. Artgrid: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Kristian Ozer Kettner: I got into filmmaking pretty late in life. I took a multimedia design course right out of high school, but it included only 2 days of filming, and I wasn't that into filmmaking at the time. Instead, I was biking around and cleaning windows for a living. It was a good business but not mentally challenging.
Looking for a new challenge, I was interested in getting back into filmmaking, but I had no experience and no gear. So I saved some money, and on one of my trips to the US, I bought the Sony EX1. I was probably the first one in Denmark to have that camera, but I had no education, so I just went out to shoot video and failed a lot.
I shot so much bad footage that I needed to fix it somehow. That's when I got into post-production. I made so many mistakes while shooting that I became a fix-it-in-post expert. Not only for myself. People came to me with bad footage, and I fixed it for them.
When my first daughter was born, I became more conscious of render times because they kept me from being with my family. And that's when I got into editing workflows, trying to shave off as much render time as possible so I could go home to be with my wife and daughter. So that's how I got to be a very technical filmmaker who focuses on efficiency. I can geek out on workflows.
2. AG: What inspires you as a filmmaker?
KOK: I'm more of a technical filmmaker, but I'm inspired by the learning aspect of the work. My motto is, 'Choose the path where you never stop learning.' The days I get to dig into a new topic and study it are the most exciting. Another thing that gets me going is problem-solving. I always look to make the most out of the situation and try to figure out how to make the footage look better.
Recently, I was shooting footage of bubbles with a macro lens, and dust kept showing up in the video. So I cleaned the entire office, but I still had dust. Then I bought an aquarium water cleaner, and it solved the dust issue. So it's a mix of technical stuff and creative problem-solving that inspires me in my work.
3. AG: Do you have a secret ritual before starting a shooting day?
KOK: I have no ritual; I just go out and shoot.
4. AG: What is your creative process when preparing for a stock footage shooting day?
KOK: I don't have one creative process, but the first thing I do is look at what the competition is doing, and I think, how can I do it better? Or how can I do it differently? The second thing I think about is if I'm going to enjoy myself. When you shoot stock footage, you are your own boss. There's no client to give you orders or deadlines, so having fun while creating awesome footage is a priority for me. It can be hard work, but it also needs to be enjoyable.
Some productions are more planned out and very technical, like shooting macro footage, but having efficiency always in the back of my mind, I always try to make the most of the situation and the surroundings.
For example, I was prepping for a big LEGO commercial shoot, and 12 hours before the shoot, Denmark went into COVID lockdown. So I was stuck at home with a big Alexa Mini camera and a canceled shoot. What to do? The kids were sent home from school, and my wife had a day off, so to make the most out of the situation, I filmed 4 Artgrid stories of my family. It was COVID-related stuff like washing hands, using hand sanitizer, putting masks on, so It sold well.
And my wife is a doctor, so I shot her examining the kids. Overall, it was a very fun and efficient day.
Another example is when we went on a holiday to Italy. My wife and kids flew down, but I rented a car and drove all the way from Denmark. On the way, I managed to shoot 3-4 stories of the landscape. One of the clips is of a river in Austria, and it sold really well on Artgrid. So taking 2.5 days to drive to Italy was a good investment because it was essentially traveling for free!
5. AG: Which of your Artgrid stories are you most proud of?
KOK: Probably the Big Family Holiday in Tuscany because it's hard to gather so many people and create something authentic. The only issue with this shoot was getting all the model releases in order. It took forever!
But the best part was that all the earnings from this story will go towards a private chef for our extended family's next holiday!
6. AG: Which usage of your footage is your favorite?
KOK: Probably Atomos using my macro soap footage for their Shinobi 7" monitor launch. I watched the launch live on YouTube, and suddenly I say it, and I was like, 'Hey, that's my footage!" It was very fun to see my footage in a video of a big player in the filmmaking industry.
7. AG: What was the craziest experience you had on a shooting day?
KOK: I wouldn't say it's a crazy story, but it's super exciting. Recently, I've signed an agreement to become a stock footage supplier to Warner Bros. They contact me every week or 2 with their requirement, whether it's an establishing shot or a background plate. So I talk to their VFX supervisors to understand what they need and work to deliver the footage. It's fun and exciting working with VFX supervisors on big TV shows.
8. AG: What gear do you have on your wish list?
KOK: The next piece of gear I'm buying is an LTO tape drive. Right now, I have a 150 TB server, and I'm also using spinning hard drives. But, spinning drives have a relatively short life span, and one of my biggest fears is losing footage.
Video sizes are huge for cinema cameras; a half-hour of shooting on an Ursa Mini can easily result in 1 TB of data. So since We'll be producing about 200 TB of content this year, the server will not be big enough. So I need a more viable solution for storing video. Although the recorder costs around $9,000, LTO tapes cost a third of hard drives and the data you keep there can last 30 years!
This will be a big part of my workflow in 2022.
9. AG: If you could choose a DOP or Director to work with, who would it be and why?
KOK: Actually, there is no one I idolize in the film industry or dream of working with. I have many collaborators who I enjoy working with very much, like Morten Lovechild, Bjarke Hvorslev Jensen, and I work with them regularly. I actually talk to Morten every day! The most important thing for me is to work with good people. If you're a good guy, I'd love to work with you. If you're a jerk or a pushover, I don't want to work with you.
9. What is your dream project?
KOK: I'd love to “travel for free” with my family through Asia and create stock content with them along the way. It’s a dream, but it’s realistic as well.
But Being able to be home with my family and work stress-free was always a dream of mine, and Artlist helped make it a reality.
10. AG: What would be your next filmmaking adventure?
KOK: As I said, I love being at home with my family, so my next adventure will probably be shooting slow-motion footage at home.