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The Family We Chose

Directed by Justin & Kristin Schaack
Narrative Short
Unites States | 8 min | 2022

Michael’s (Tom Reed) holiday tradition is avoiding his wife’s family by retreating to the basement. This year, his wife’s brother’s wife, Sarah (Taj Ruler), passively confronts him about his Grinch-level attitude towards the family. From childbearing expectations, politics, and convincing their mother in-law to downsize, the two in-laws build a connection over the dynamics of the family they married into.

“The Family We Chose” is has a story, setting, and characters that feel recognizable, cozy, and at times a little cringy. This film is a love letter to our Midwest friends and family and those moments in life that are so difficult that you can’t help but laugh, and when needing to shed a tear, lean on those around you.

The story is set in realtime in a small space, so we leaned on our theatrical roots to plan out the blocking and movements, choreographing a dance between the actors and the camera. We keep the characters moving about the space while keeping their motivations close to heart.

Aesthetically, we leveraged Justin’s grandmother’s basement to invite the viewer into the familiar space of being at grandma’s – untouched decor, damp scent in the air, and filled with childhood memories.

Our goal was to tell a story that is real, familiar, and at the end of the day still makes you smile. Despite the chaos and complexities of this particular family, there is love.

The Family We Chose - Poster

The Family We Chose - Justin & Kristin SchaackJustin & Kristin Schaack

We are a comedy directing duo that have been making films and collaborating on visual media for over 20 years. Our creative partnership started in the theater waaaaaay off-broadway: 6th grade, middle school productions. This probably explains why we remain wide-eyed, playful, and imaginative. We craft stories that are fun and poignant. We love to explore universal themes and aim to make the absurd feel real and funny.

Our films have screened as official selections at 300+ international film festivals and received dozens of audience choice, best comedy, and best film awards over the years. While we never rest on our festival laurels, we like to think that they are a testament to our storytelling and creative execution. In November 2019, our film Fairy Tail received “The Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award” at the Twin Cities Film Fest, handpicked by living legend Bill Murray. Not only is it humbling to receive such a prestigious accolade, but the uniquely quirky name of the award speaks perfectly to our overall artistic objective. Fun IS good, and we’re proud to be the purveyors of FUN.

Film Information

Director: Justin & Kristin Schaack
Country: United States
Year: 2022
Language: English
Runtime: 8 min.
Rated:  PG


Writer: Justin & Kristin Schaack
Producer: Justin & Kristin Schaack
Director of Photography:
Kyle Ramsey Moe
Original Music:Andy Stermer

Connect With This Film

Principal Cast

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival