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KRZYK - Losing Control

The story is centered on Lena, who is 38 years old and lives in Poland. One night, while driving to Łódź on a motorway, she witnesses an accident. She sees how a woman trapped in a car burns to death. The screams of Nina, the victim, haunt Lena from then on, and she starts to suffer more and more from insomnia. Lena tries to dins our who the woman was. This quest whisks the protagonist away on a physical as well as an emotional journey into her subconscious. The nights on the motorway turn into nightmares, and Lena has to find a way out of them.

The director Ewa Wikiel called me in spring 2021 and asked if I would be interested in working on her directorial debut, the drama thriller 'KRZYK - LOSING CONTROL'. At that point, the financing had already been finalized. Funded by the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and the local TV station rbb with the LEUCHTSTOFF program. A fund that supports young filmmakers with their debut film. The cash budget was around €150,000, a very limited budget for a feature film. The film was produced by the DFFB and co-produced by Ibrahim-Utku Erdogan (BIG KEDI PICTURES) and Ewa Wikiel.

Ewa introduced me to the story and I was immediately enthusiastic. A movie that wants to be told as subjectively as possible, with many elements of magical realism. We talked about movie references and influences on the story. After the conversation, we agreed to make this movie together. That was the beginning of a very intense, creative and strong collaboration.

1. Phase: Script breakdown and defining a visual compass

When I went through the script for the first time, the most important thing was to document all the ideas based on intuition.This process is very important, especially later on when things get more and more complex, it's good to remember the first thoughts that are mainly based on intuition. After the first reading, Ewa and I sat down and talked about how we could develop a visual line or concept that would make the movie unique. The story of the movie is quite complex because of the very subjective perspective, which sometimes makes it difficult to understand the reality of the characters. At the same time, the theme of the movie is very dense. That was the reason for me to develop a film language that contrast that a bit. A language that has a lot of tension and is - lets say 'enjoyable'.

We decided to use a different camera language for each constellation of characters in order to reinforce the individual emotions of our protagonist Lena. The relationship between Lena and Jakob begins to break down over the course of the movie. We decided to shoot every scene with the two of them with a handheld camera. This gives it a very realistic, raw and almost documentary feel.

As soon as Lena enters Viktor's (the widower) life, we switch to a calmer and more elegant camera style. Most of the scenes with the two of them are shot in long sequences with a gimbal. The gimbal delivers movements where you can usually feel a person behind it. The reason for this is that we wanted to feel the presence of Viktor's dead wife Nina. In some scenes we also used a zoom lens to create a vivid attraction between the two.

Vera, the receptionist in the lab where Lena works, is a woman who has the ability to see beyond Lena's character, she sees and feels a trauma buried deep in Lena's consciousness. In most of these scenes, we opted for the use of dolly in combination with a zoom lens to create a hypnotizing atmosphere.

In this movie I saw the opportunity to try something I've never done before. Mixing spherical lenses and anamorphic lenses. As the movie progresses, Lena becomes more and more obsessed with Nina and eventually transforms into her. In certain scenes in which Lena and Viktor approach each other, the perspective changes and is shown from the point of view of the deceased Nina. We wanted to use this change of perspective as a cinematic device to tell the story of the occupation of Lena's soul by a deceased person. The closer Lena is to Nina's surroundings, the more often Nina will accompany her. In the course of the story, we will switch from spherical lenses to anamorphic lenses in order to visually express Lena's transformation. The anamorphic format and its bokeh is perfect for that because it visually sucks you in. The camera becomes more independent, leaves Lena and begins to hover, developing a life of its own. Unusual perspectives and movements are realized through the special anamorphic lenses and gimbal movements with tilted camera angles. Nina's intention becomes both tangible and visible.

As film references and inspiration, Ewa and I watched and analyzed films by Krzysztof Kieślowski 'The Double Life of Veronique', 'Three Colors: Blue', David Lynch's 'Mulholland Drive' & 'Lost Highway', Roman Polanski's 'The Tenant', Nicolas Roeg's 'Don't look now' and last but not least the fantastic film 'Marketa Lazarova' by František Vláčil.

2. Phase: Cameratests

Since we already had a specific camera language defined, we started testing different lenses, filters and camera settings at ARRI Rental Berlin, where we received fantastic support. 1st AC Arseny Preobrazhenskiy, who I have worked with on several projects, was on board and we did the test together. Since I mostly shot with the ARRI Alexa Mini, I already trust the quality and love the image quality of this fantastic technology. So the decision for a camera had already been made. I really like the digital noise of the ARRI Alexa sensor when underexposed. On a project before 'KRZYK', I tested different exposures of the sensor with different ISO settings. I found that I got a very warm and vibrant look. With 'KRZYK' I wanted to go even further. It's quite a heavy subject and I wanted to give it a very organic look. The digital noise was a good place to start. During the camera test I went from 800 ISO to 3200 ISO and underexposed the sensor from 0.5 to 2 stops. In the post-processing of the camera test, we desaturated the digital noise a little and combined it with film grain. The combination was stunning and I decided to shoot the whole film at 1600 ISO and underexpose it by 0.5 to one stop depending on the image.

The biggest task now was to find the right combination of lenses and filters. As we move from spherical lenses to anamorphic lenses in the course of the story, I didn't want the look of the lenses to be so extremely different. The goal was to keep it subtle. The whole visualization should come from the story and the characters - and not be too obvious in terms of style. Gabriele Huber (ARRI Rental Berlin) suggested a set of KOWA anamorphic lenses that were rehoused by P&S Technik. The lenses are from the 70s, very low contrast at open aperture and generally very warm. I had never photographed with these lenses before and was therefore very curious. The choice of lenses was 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm. I already knew that the 50mm lens would be the one we would use the most. When I looked at the 32mm lens, I was quite surprised at the severe distortion of the image. There are some moments in the script when we should go more extreme with the blocking and the cinematography and the 32mm would be the lens for that. I was already very excited about the lenses when I rented them. Now it was time to downgrade the spherical lenses. My choice was a set of ARRI Ultra primes and the ARRI Fujinon Alura Zooms. To bring the look of the anamorphic and the spherical lenses a little closer together, we tested various filters, also in combination. We started with Tiffen Gold Diffusion, Tiffen Glimmer Glass, Tiffen Hollywood Black Magic and last but not least Tiffen Ultra Contrast. We tested each filter from 1/8 to 2. In the end, I decided on a combination of 1/2 Ultra Contrast and a 1/4, 1/2 or full Hollywood Black Magic for the above camera settings to get close to the look of Kowa's anamorphic lenses.

During the test shoot we also tested different costumes. Especially after Lena's transformation, she usually wears a red coat. We tested different coats with different shades of red. In the end, we decided on a fairly saturated and pop red, even though we didn't want to have highly saturated colors in the picture. The filters and lenses greatly reduced and softened the colors.

3. Phase: Locations, shot list and production design sessions

For some scenes, Ewa and I started the shot list before we had the locations, based on our visual compass. We already had concrete ideas and were able to define these moments with a precise description. For other scenes, we wanted to create the shots and blocking based on the location. With our two production designers, Eleanora Iadkouskaya and Stephanie Traut, we regularly had very creative sessions about the design of each location to get an exact idea of what we were looking for.

Before I went to Łódź for the first time, I had already looked at the city using Google Street View. A very old villa, which seemed to be empty and a bit run-down, caught my attention and I had a strong feeling that the place was suitable for the character Vikor, the widower of Nina, the deceased wife. I suggested this to Ewa and our production designers Eleanora Iadkouskaya and Stephanie Traut. On our first trip to Łódź, we wanted to visit VIKTORS AND NINAS VILLA. As it was difficult to find the owner, we looked at the villa from the outside and could only look through the windows. What we saw there immediately blew us away. Even though it would be a lot of work to fix up the house, we all agreed that it would be worth it.

During the location scouting, Ewa and I already had a first rough draft of the shot list. For every location we saw, we knew what we were looking for. For the GAS STATION location, we hadn't shot everything yet. The location had fantastic architecture and immediately inspired us. There were so many details that contributed to the mood of the scene. I usually have an idea of how I want to light the scene when I'm scouting the location. When I see the location for the first time, I try to go with my intuition. I immediately make sketches on my iPad, a first draft of a lighting plan.

VERAS HIDDEN ROOM is a very special place. It is based in the lab, where Lena is working. It is the room where Vera is doing her very special ceremonies. With production designers Eleonora and Stephie, we went to a techno party in an old textile factory in Lodz on a day off. Somehow I found myself in the backstage area and was totally overwhelmed. I called Eleonora and Stephie and showed them the room. We all agreed that we could have a location for Vera (Wiktoria Gorodeckaja), took a few blurry photos and sent them to Ewa. She agreed immediately. It wasn't easy to get this location, but it was definitely worth it. Our production designers did a wonderful job creating a very special place out of it.

4. Phase: SHOOTING

Life and death

An important point for the visual design was to show life and death simultaneously in many images. Nina (Natalia Mateo) died in an accident and burned to death. Fire is our symbol for death. There are quite a couple of scenes where fire is shown. In the opening sequence when Lena (Gina Henkel) is passing the accident there is a moment when she calls for help. We wanted to intensify that moment and bring the accident very close to her. Our choice was to use a split field diopter.

In another scene later in the film, Lena is reading Ninas diary. Just before she set fire to some flowers in her grief. We used the same technique.

Additional Scenes & Moments

We had a great support from Lodz based service production Double Dare, run by Borys Piasny and Borys Kubiak. The helped us to get the crew. As gaffer, Kuba Bartnicki joined the team and as Dolly Grip I could work with - the one and only Gerad Krawczyk. For the Berlin part Malte Siepen took over as gaffer and Daniele Boselli as Dolly Grip. Our schedule was quite tough with lots of different locations and lots of night shoots. After one week of shooting an incredible coherence and motivation within the crew was built and it was clear with that team we can make strong film.

Our preparation was very good and Ewa and me were just breathing and feeling the film. That opened some room for new ideas and we left the shot list from time to time when we discovered something new. One example was a nightmare scene on the graveyard. There was one continuous crane shot, a quite tricky choreography. We planned that as our major scene. But with all these broken cars there we decided to add one scene with our protagonist trapped in a smoke filled car and tries escape. With that scene the nightmare was complete.

Another such moment was when we took our first tour of the hospital. In the middle of the foyer is a large sculpture by Kazimierz Karpiński, showing a woman holding a child in her arms. It couldn't be better for our movie. In some scenes of the movie, we subtly see the sculpture as part of the hospital. But the sculpture offered us more than that. I suggested to Ewa to create a metaphorical moment with the sculpture. We had already shot a dance scene with Lena after her transformation in Viktor's villa. I used a spotlight that follows her around the room. To connect this scene to the sculpture, I built a similar setup in the lobby of the hospital. With the wonderful support of Robe Lighting with two Megapointe moving heads, we were able to create very atmospheric lighting.

One scene that is definitely worth mentioning is Viktor and Lena's dance sequence. We only had a limited amount of time to shoot with the actor Paweł Deląg, who plays the role of Viktor. After shooting with him for the first two days, Ewa showed me a dance show he was in and mentioned that he was a very good dancer. She confronted Pawel the next day with the idea of shooting a dance scene in Viktor's villa. Pawel was enthusiastic about the idea from the very first moment and we turned it into a scene. It's a subjective scene that begins with him dancing alone, then Lena suddenly appears dressed as Nina and the choreography continues until we leave the villa with Lena. He is basically dancing with his dead wife embodied by Lena. The rehearsal for the dance was quite short, more of a movement rehearsal. I also suggested not doing a rehearsal with the camera to keep the tension high for the shoot. In KRZYK I worked with the gimbal operator Stanisław Nietrzebka. In this scene, I felt like I was operating it myself. It was all about music and improvisation, and I love rhythm, music and intuitive moments. So we started the take and it was an absolute trip. I had goosebumps several times and I knew it was a very powerful scene while shooting. After 3 1/2 minutes the take was over and the crew watching on the monitors next door applauded.

Night lighting

When Ewa invited me to Lodz for the first time, I was surprised about the city lights at night.While most of the cities nowadays are having LED lights, Lodz is glowing in sodium light. Low pressure sodium lights are having quite a narrow color spectrum. It spikes at around 589nm, so the color rendering is very limited and capturing it results in loss of details. Most of the film plays at night and like mentioned above, we wanted to contrast the quite serious topic of the story. For me the sodium nights were a perfect playground for that. The idea was to keep the very warmth of these lights and creating a wider spectrum. We reproduced the streetlights that are shining into the apartment with Lee Urban Sodium on HMIs as key and filled it with HMI on Full CTO mixed with 1/2 straw. In Victors villa we wanted to have it even a bit warmer. Instead of HMIs we used Tungsten lights (2x Dino on scissorlift) on very low percentage through the big dirty vitrage. During the day the mood in Viktors villa should have a similar feel, so we increased the intensity and added a bit of Straw to them.


Color Correction:

(summary of an interview with colorist Lutz Forster at the end of the color correction)

After the first meeting with the colorist Lutz Forster, where we mainly talked about film inspirations regarding the look, he immediately offered to provide his personal toolbox, especially one of his Film Print Emulation LUTs, which in his opinion could serve as a good basis for KRZYK. In short, the LUT consists of:

  • Halation 

  • Filmstock Print 35mm 400T Davinci as a basis, grain slightly modified

  • Emulations LUT ARRI Log C in simulated 250D positive in Cineon LOG 

  • 2383 Print pushed to D60 white point, slightly more green

  • lowering the black point

  • Roll off in Saturation

After splitting the movie into scenes to create variations within the movie, we went to the clip layers. 

We worked with a fixed Node Tree, from back to front. You start with the scene look, then with the angle, then exposure, offset, white balance, color space transform, highlight recovery, noise reduction. Additional post nodes as a backup for DP,Director changes behind the entire node tree.

Since we shot at a higher ISO number, digital noise was forced into the basic material, we were able to create a very vivid image in combination with additional filmgrain in the highlights. The material was very good, there were almost only basic corrections, few power windows. We worked very little with keys. The choice of lenses in combination with the filters, the forced digital noise of the sensor and the color correction (which is based on film print emulations) simulates a very organic image, or elements of an analog image. In the end, however, something very unique emerges, almost painterly. 

Topic sodium (what is natural, what is artificial?):

The subjective perception of color always depends on where you live. In Berlin you could see this very clearly in the past, in the eastern part of the city there was predominantly warm light, in the west it tended to be cooler. In Germany in general, sodium is almost extinct nowadays, in Lodz it is still very present, but also changing. Basically, we have changed very little in terms of temperature because the footage was lit very similar to the temperature of the real Sodiums. We have only made slight luma masking, for example we have increased the refraction of light through curtains to create more depth in the image. Skin tone separation:

We used chromatic adaptation to make the white point slightly cooler (from 5600 to 6500) to separate the skin tone from the rest. Otherwise we left everything as it was lit. 

The Finale:

The last chapter of the film looks like a very intense drug trip. The worlds blur in a reverse cut with close-ups of Lena surrounded by gold. The perception of stimuli is heightened and we tried out a lot here to intensify this. Using different levels of saturation, contrasts and silver tones, a lot of things were too ambitious and obvious. Everything was already there in the material and so we stuck with the look of the film. We then came up with the idea of restricting the field of view a little and changed the aspect ratio slightly. From 1:2.39 to 1:2.55.

As we were already working with very saturated colors on set and due to the higher sensitivity of the camera, we couldn't use the LUT in the final as before, as density colors were created in the image. We decided to build a new Film Emulation node tree from scratch. We then used the Printer Lights to achieve the desired shade of red (Blood Red LEE Filters).

The collaboration with Lutz was a highly enjoyable and intense time for me. Color correction is always such a fragile process and it falls and stands with having good communication and sharing the same taste. With Lutz it was a match and hope there will follow some more great films!


Lena Gina Henkel

Anton Anton Weil

Vera Wiktoria Gorodeckaja

Viktor Paweł Deląg

Antek Noah Szendel

Nina Natalia Mateo

Mirosław Marek Pyś

Professor Krol Max von Zimmer

Professor Jagoda Katharina Bellena

Marta Patrycja Rewera


Director Ewa Wikieł

Director of Photography Konstantin Minnich

Producer Ibrahim-Utku Erdogan

Screenplay Ewa Wikieł,Halina Rasinski

Production Design Eleanora Iadkouskaya, Stephanie Traut

Costume Design Agata Dziurgot

Editor Natalia Jacheć

Color Correction Lutz Forster

Composition Hannah von Hübbenet

Sounddesign Vajda Dávid Bodnár

Soundmix Lorenz Fischer

Production Manager Bocar Thiam

First Assistant Director Julia Metzmacher

Second Assistant Director Michalina Medyńska

Development Supervisor Ellis Freeman

Script Consultation Julia Willman, Cornelia Hermann

Head of Studies Bodo Knaheide

Executive Producer Andreas Louis

Executive Producer Assistant Julia Geppert, Claudia Vogt

Production Accountant Ines Raak

Associate Producer Marcel P. Mate, Romana Janik

Service Production Poland Double Dare, Borys Piasny & Borys Kubiak

Production Assistant Michal Kowalski, Thea Hermann, Birim Zirek

Production Assistant (Berlin Unit) Alina Podschun, Clarissa Ohlendorf

Unit Manager (Berlin Unit) Johanna Mecke, Mirjam Erdem, Sinan Özarslan

Set PA Roman Sętkowski, Michał Rożański

Covid Manager Kajetan Buss

Catering Mateusz Mazanowski

Gimbal Operator Stanisław Nietrzebka

First Assistant Camera Arseny Preobrazhenskiy

Second Assistant Camera Małgorzata Rabczuk

Data Wrangler Roman Savchenko

First Assistant Camera (Berlin Unit) Alexander Stute, Christoph Hövel

Second Assistant Camera (Berlin Unit) Leah Clara

BTS Videographer Mikołaj Lewiński

Gaffer Kuba Bartnicki

Gaffer (Berlin Unit) Malte Siepen

Bestboy Alexei Manson

Electrician Janek Jurczak, Filip Haribo Wesołowski, Oskar Jan Krol

Dolly Grip Gerard Krawczyk

Dolly Grip (Berlin) Daniele Boselli

Crane Grip Artur Wildemann

Grip Assistant Łukasz Walczak, Pawel Jarzabek, Artur Krawczyk   

Grip Assistant (Berlin) Alexander Brack

Filmcar MCC Berlin (Moviecam Car)

Costume Assistant Malina A. Fiszer

Make Up Artist Joanna Siwy

Assistant Production Design Alicja Danielak, Stanislaw Babicz, Filip Haribo Wesołowski

Art Trainee Julia Anna Konopka, Zed Vienot

Construction & Transportation Support Piotr Goskowski, Piotr Skowronski, Roman Setkowski

Choreography Ewa Wikiel

Stunt Anna Gańczarek-Rał

Editing Supervisor Hannah Schwegel

Post-Production Coordination Vivien Rosenberg

Digital Image Engineer Ingo Schumacher

Editing Assistants Jakub Bastkowski, Mateusz Powszedniak, Jan Briks

Sound Recordist Mateusz Głowacki, Kamil Jagiełło

Boom operator Anna Dłużniewska, Igor Majewski

Sound Editor András Pongor

Foley Artist Ignacy Żak

ADR Recordist Moritz Drath, Shadi Farid, Ignacy Żak, Mateusz Głowacki

Music Supervisor Alex Labes

Design Opening Titles Boromir Bogumil

Design KRZYK Logo Eirene Walther, Gabriel Walther

Design Credits Konstantin Minnich

VFX Retouch Jan Joost Verhoef

Script Translation Supervisor Jack Langley

Equipment Rentals ARRI Rental Berlin (Stefan Düll, Ute Baron, Hannes Winski, Gabriele Huber)

German Film and Television Academy Berlin (Stephanie Frings, Peter Felder)

Brutus Film 

Little Beast




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