We had the good fortune of connecting with Kadri Koop and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kadri, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
A lot of the times people think that success in the film world is a result of pure talent whereas in my experience it is an intricate balance between ‘talent,’ ‘work ethic,’ and ‘luck.’
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a cinematographer who works in the intersection of documentary and fiction. I enjoy sharing my time between the two different worlds as I’m a firm believer in the sense of ‘reality’ that raises in this subliminal space where non-fiction becomes fiction. I’m particularly excited to shoot fiction with the methods of documentary: non-professional actors, without permits at non-scouted locations, shooting on the go, shaping existing light instead of adding fixtures etc. I got into this line of work by starting out as a director/DP in documentaries. Growing up in Estonia and choosing to move to China in my early 20s to make documentaries, I use to record the lives of Beijing street vendors and other regulars in my neighborhood. This way of working taught me that everyone has what is takes to be a fascinating character on screen. I’ve gotten to where I am today by working as a one-woman band: directing, producing, shooting, recording sound and editing all of my earlier documentary work. It’s the best training one can ask for as the ability to understand at least the basics of each department will allow for greater control of the medium even when just focusing on one area. For instance, now that I work mostly as a DP, sometimes also sharing myself between producing and directing, I’m able to make more efficient decisions on the set as I know how much time and resources other department heads need. It’s been a long way to get here though and it hasn’t always been easy. Looking back at the 5-7 years that I spent soul searching and learning about filmmaking, taking advantage of ANY opportunity that came my way, I also have to acknowledge the times when I had no work nor a particularly exciting skill set. Working as a PA in a production company in China in my early 20s was one of those moments. My break came when I was accepted to Stanford on a scholarship to study documentary filmmaking. Not only did the opportunity allow me to advance in my craft, but it also brought me to the States where I have been every since. Waiting for that crucial opportunity took me working odd jobs across continets. It’s a blessing to be where I am today and having a little more freedom in choosing projects. Looking back at everything, I feel like the most I’ve learned has been by failing. I cannot stress enough how important it is to create opportunities for oneself to fail. There’s an incredible freedom in knowing that you can attempt to reach your utmost creative heights by allowing yourself to not land on the anticipated outcome. When I think of ‘failure,’ in it’s truest sense, I think it’s really about not trying and not having courage to just go for it. So, in my use of the term the meaning has been reverted to the opposite – success.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting I would take them to Joshua Tree for at least half of their stay in LA, and the rest I would spend by relaxing in one of the Korean Spas, going to the drive-in movie theatre, and hiking in the nearby trails. I would also make time to hit up as many local eateries that I’ve come to love. Particularly a vegan restaurant called Plant+Food+Wine.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents definitely deserve all the credit for me being able to earn money by doing what I love, which I consider as living the dream. If I was to give a shout out to a resource it would be the Tarkovsky book “Sculpting in Time.” It serves as my spiritual bible. I revisit this book every time I need guidance. It’s kinda like people turn to the Bible at times. For me it’s this book.
Kenji Bennett & A.J. Starzak