I don't know about you, but I like to see filmmakers swing for the fences. The Sundance 2024 Midnight entry, Krazy House, definitely does that.
The movie is a ridiculous take on '90s sitcoms, co-helmed by writers/directors Steffen Haars and Flip Van der Kuil, a Dutch comedy duo also known for the TV show New Kids. It follows a "Cristian" family, with Nick Frost as the often-confused, sometimes seemingly possessed, patriarch, and Alicia Silverstone as the harried matriarch.
It's hard to discuss where the film goes, but let's say it involves Communist home invaders, drugs, gratuitous violence, and lots of bubble gum.
NFS caught up with Haars just before the film's Sundance premiere at the Egyptian. He was kind enough to give the site a shout-out as a fan, too! Enjoy his advice below.
'Krazy House' | Teaser Trailerwww.youtube.com
Editor's note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
No Film School: We'd love to know how you got started. What's your background?
Steffen Haars: The funny thing is is that I went to film school, so yes, film school, but I wanted to be a cinematographer. But while doing that I wanted to shoot certain things that there were no projects for directors at that time that came up with those things. So I started writing myself, together with Flip. We started making sketches and then fun stuff, and gradually, we were sort of turning into writer-directors. It was all learned by doing it, I guess.
That was a big thing when we started, making sketches, short things but just going for it, and then you make 10, maybe eight shorts, two are nice, then you sort of build from that. But that was a really nice way to learn where you're not so boxed in.
NFS: What where the challenges on Krazy House and how did you overcome them?
Haars: There was a moment where we decided that it had to be America, and we already made five films in Holland, Dutch spoken. But because this concept is an American (or '90s) sitcom, I feel like it has to be the real deal, so it has to be something there.
Then there was a big challenge with, how the fuck do we get us to make it in there. And that took us, of course, a very long time. We were sending it out to people and waiting for responses because [our films] were all Dutch films, so it's hard to get in there. That was a big challenge, but then there was this magical moment when we got introduced to Nick Frost, and this was because of another movie that he wrote, and that was a very nice conversation.
I don't know, things happened with planning, and then we were like, you need to be on our movie, and then he read it. We had a really nice click comedy-wise, and he was like, "Fuck yeah, let's do this." Then we were in, I guess.
Nick Frost, Alicia Silverstone, Gaite Jensen, and Walt Klink appear in 'Krazy House' by Steffen Haars and Flip van der Juil, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute
NFS: Since you were writing sort of outside what your wheelhouse was, what kind of research did you have to do on this?
Haars: How the research on this film, I think it's just my whole youth watching reruns of old American sitcoms and soaking it in and getting inspired in a way. I mean, the whole concept is seeing this sort of safe world of that sitcom family and all these silly small problems just turn that around and just give them the biggest problem of their life, and just fucks things up.
That was sort of the thing got us interested about this one, that was the kick-off, then we started writing the script and it escalated pretty quickly.
NFS: What advice would you give to a beginning filmmaker?
Haars: I've got some thinking, which one I'm going to give.
I think the most important is just keep on doing it, do it yourself, I mean it's possible. Don't let technology stop you. You should just create.
You're going to fall, then you're going to get up again, then try one more, and it's going to work. I mean, if it's from yourself, I think that's pretty important if it's personal or something that you really love or whatever, it's close to your heart, whatever it is, then it will find its way.
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