A! Magazine for the Arts

Zak Kristofek on the set of "Wildlife" in Oklahoma

Zak Kristofek on the set of "Wildlife" in Oklahoma

Zak Kristofek produces with Bad Idea Films

June 29, 2020

Zak Kristofek is a producer who learned the nuts and bolts of film production with hands-on experience as a line producer, production manager and assistant director. He leads the production and development departments for Bad Idea Films, overseeing all in-house and third-party production from inception to picture delivery. He brings an extensive knowledge of putting together both small and large-scale productions having supervised on such films as “Wildlife” starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal plus “Book Club” starring Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda. Next up, he is executive producing “A Lot of Nothing” with Bad Idea alongside Anonymous Content and David Oyelowo. He took time out of his schedule to talk with us.

A! Magazine: How did growing up in the Tri-Cities affect your artistic efforts?

Zak Kristofek: As long as I can remember movies were always what most interested me. I probably owe that to my parents. They weathered who knows how many hours-long trips to Blockbuster, watched movie after movie while hanging at my godparents’ house, or took me down to the bagel shop on Saturday mornings to chat about the latest movies with the employees. Movies were always at the forefront.

A!: Does what you learned here still affect your life?

Kristofek: Absolutely. One of my favorite things about Southwest Virginia is the gung-ho mentality. That genuine “pull yourself up by your bootstraps attitude.” I like to reference a quote by Milton Berle that I think sums that up – “When opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” I heard that at some point in high school and it’s just stuck with me ever since.

A!: How were you involved in the arts when you were growing up here?

Kristofek: I did the occasional stage crew for the high school drama department, but being the stubborn human I am, I always fought the efforts of my drama teacher, Kristen Palmer, to get involved more.

A!: How did you get started?

Kristofek” After college I left for Australia to live with some family over there for six months. Once my travel visa expired, I was extremely fortunate to have a former college professor offer me a job on a film he was producing, and it just kind of took off from there. I parlayed jobs into jobs while moving my way across the country—South Carolina, New Mexico, and then Los Angeles.

A!: Who influenced your artistic efforts?

Kristofek: Comedies and action films were always what most piqued my interest. John Belushi, Steve Martin, anything Tom Cruise. It’s all about entertainment for me. The fun stuff... All that being said, I’ve never considered myself an artist. I’d say I’m a filmmaker. The artists are more talented than I.

A!: When and why did you leave?

Kristofek: After graduating Virginia High School, I attended Virginia Tech with the intent of majoring in corporate communications because I didn’t ever think making a career in film was actually attainable. I was a little aimless my first year there, but once I took an Intro to Cinema class with Dr. Stephen Prince, I called up my parents and told them that I was going to give movies a go. Best decision I’ve ever made.

A!: What are you working on now and what do you have planned for the future?

Kristofek: With COVID-19, we had to shut down a movie we were producing here in Los Angeles in the middle of production. We’re currently figuring out a plan as to when to resume that. As for the future, we’re in chats with a few companies around town regarding which one of our projects will get off the ground next. And we’re always looking for that next piece of material to sink our teeth into.

A!: What is your role at Bad Idea Films?

Kristofek: I run production here at the company. In tandem with my business partner, we develop scripts with writers, and then compile plans on how to physically produce the films in order to get them to the greenlight stage. Budgets, schedules, calendars, all that. Thereallyglamorous stuff.

A!: How have streaming sites changed your approach to film or has it had an effect?

Kristofek: They’ve changed everything. The need for content has never been higher. It’s changed the approach because you don’t have to think in the ways of, “okay, how do we shape this project and position it to try and get released in 1000 or 2000 screens.” There are all these new homes for these projects. In a way that’s fantastic, but it’s also raised the bar. They’re fighting for eyeballs, so the content we try to sell or get greenlit has to be a certain level of quality or it will remain just another script on the shelf.

A!: What or who inspires you?

Kristofek: Story is first. Even if it’s familiar. If something presented in an interesting way, with colorful characters, I’ll pay attention nine times out of 10.

A!: Tell us about your career highlights and challenges, please.

Kristofek: Sundance 2018 was a real highlight. I production managed a feature titled “Wildlife,” Paul Dano’s directorial debut. Having that film, which was such a special script made by such special people, premiere at the Eccles in Park City was a moment that I’ll never forget. Those moments make all the challenges worth it.

A!: What else are you doing other than working on your art?

Kristofek: I try to play as much golf as I can so I don’t have to pay for a therapist. It’s working so far.

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