"Czech humor is specific, a bit similar to English humor, just less clever," says 31-year-old Czech director Jakub Kohak. "However, it is quite malicious." Malicious like a dreary fast-forward funeral, which Kohak created for a driver safety PSA, or a bartender competition that is overrun by wild mobs looking to get their hands on a glass of Golden Pheasant beer.
Kohak studied at the Film and TV School at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), just like Stink's Ivan Zacharias, to whose work Kohak's reel bears a family resemblance in both scale and cinematic detail. Both use editor Filip Malasek, and Kohak has occasionally worked with Zacharias DP Jan Velicky. However, "as a boy, Ivan wanted, and worked hard, to become a film director," Kohak says. "In my case, it was a coincidence. But a beautiful coincidence."
Kohak shot several short films while a student at FAMU and was picked up for representation by Prague's Stillking Films in 2001. Rokkit, founded by Dan Dickenson, formerly of Partizan, and Stink EP Daniel Bergman, signed him for U.S. and U.K. representation in 2004. "Everything happened so fast that I started thinking, 'Someone must be joking. It can't be that easy.' But it was," he says.
As for his visual style, Kohak says he likes it when a commercial "doesn't look artificial, chemical; I like to have a human touch in there. A commercial should get your attention and wrap around you like the cigarette smoke does after you walk in a smoky bar. " His most recent job, for the Tereza Maxova Foundation-an organization dedicated to helping abandoned children-is a melancholy film in which we see the proverbial "message in a bottle," but this time it is an S.O.S. tucked into a baby's bottle. "The basic thing is to choose scripts that you like, that open a new dimension for you," he says. "Mostly, the scripts I get need to be modified a lot. When I get a good script with a lot of potential, I write a treatment specifying my idea of the film, shooting methods, suggested changes, etc. The ideal is when I get a good basic idea that I can further develop. It's like having a good quality skeleton that you can clothe with flesh."