The Brothers Robinson
Stephen Robinson and his brother, Andrew, are a filmmaker-duo that experiment with films across all genres. In Skype interview I talked with the brothers about their passion for film and the influence of their Faith in the medium.
What drew you to film making? S: I think the love of films, and the ability to tell great stories through them. And the feeling that there are a lot of stories that need to be told. A: Initially it was just the enjoyment of being able to make something fun, something entertaining, and something short. Then it eventually turned into something more like what Stephan is saying, here is a way to present stories with real meaning and purpose. What do you think makes film a powerful medium? S: Film combines all the other art forms – story, imagery and music. So it hits a lot of senses at once. Of course it’s primarily visual, and we mainly get our information visually nowadays. Film has the power to inspire, entertain, teach, encourage and make statements. Truth can be presented in such a way that anyone can grasp it. A: Film has an impact on audiences in many ways, and especially so to our generation. It can give either clear or misleading expectations of the world and how people work, that’s why it’s important and encouraging to see solid stories being made, of courage, truth and kindness. Imagination is a powerful thing, film gives voice to this
Who are your greatest influences? S: Tricky question… there are so many movies, books, directors and writers that we feel we take inspiration from. When you come to a question like this, it’s hard to think of who they all are. A couple of the directors I love are Steven Spielburg and Paul Greengrass; I like the way they use cinematography and editing to move the story forward. A: Lord of the Rings. I just want to state that. Books and movies, fantastic. S: Lord of the Rings, yes, definitely! A: Anyhow, there are many inspirations and heaps to things to learn from all these great directors. But if I were to give examples of people who have had the greatest influence on us… the works of writers such as C.S Lewis. To put truth in ways like he did, with Narnia and his other books, more than genius.
How do you see your faith inspiring your work? How is Orthodoxy integrated into your creative process? S: I don’t think we really differentiate between secular and religious story-lines. Whatever we do, whether it’s a crazy comedy, a drama or a documentary, our aim is to keep Christ at its centre. Are we making you laugh in a good way? Is our message in the film consistent with what we believe as Christians? We pray through all the stages of the film, from the script through to the filming and to the post production. A: We also have this concept, that, even if God isn’t stated to be in the story, He is always a “character”, as in; He exists in the universe of every film we make and want to make. I like the idea of hope, as orthodox Christians, we know from the saints and martyrs that even if a story doesn’t seem to end well, there is always this hope that we’re left with. God always wins. What advice can you give to other young Orthodox film makers? S: The advice that we’ve been given is to keep making things. Even if all you have is a basic camera and one actor (a friend, or in my case, a younger brother) – keep making films. Whenever you search advice from famous directors, all of them say this. So this is what we’ve been doing, and it’s been working! A: Yep, having a good looking younger brother helps… Understand what you want to do and don’t get caught trying to do what everyone else is doing. It was a surprising time when people began commenting on our “style”. We weren’t trying to make a “style” we were making things the way we would like to see them done (in regards to design, humour, story and message). S: Also, try and talk and collaborate with other creative people. Not just film-makers, it’s great to pool ideas and it’s encouraging. Get in touch with us for instance!
What have been some of your greatest achievements? S: We entered a UK competition and made it to the final ten which led to being able to pitch a short-film idea to a panel of judges at Pinewood Studios. So many movies are made there (Star Wars, James Bond and more)! I also edited a short-film which screened at BAFTA in London. A: We have won a few short film competitions, the Aputure Short Film competition 2015, Getty Images Lets Make Something competition 2016. We made an action comedy with the support of Fyffes Bananas (an unusual and hilarious project). And recently, our biggest short film yet, funded by the Fashfest event in Canberra.
What have been your greatest challenges? S: Getting out and making things, without worrying if we have enough crew, equipment or ability. I’ve learnt that we can actually make films just by going for it. Also, an on-going challenge has been to get films funded. A: The most challenging thing for me has been just to begin new films. Once all the self-doubts are laid aside and we begin, things seem to fall into place. What’s it like working alongside with your brother? S: Fantastic! We get along so well, we have a similar way of thinking. One of us can come up with half an idea, and the other one will complete it. It’s also incredibly easy to explain concepts to each other. A: If I were to explain a shot that I would like to capture to someone who isn’t my brother, I find I have to really articulate what it is that I want. Whereas with Stephan, all I have to do is throw my arms up and go “whoosh” and he will know exactly what I mean.
Where do you hope this creative journey will take you? S: The dream is make feature films; films that entertain and encourage and leave you in a better place than when you walked into the cinema. A: It would be fantastic to make feature films. There are so many good stories that could be done justice to screen. I hope to able to work on stories of hope and courage, of real events and people and imaginary ones. Are there any new works coming up soon? S & A: We are continually making and uploading new skits to our YouTube channel. Also, our new short-film, “the Alternate” which was screened at Fashfest in Canberra, will be online soon. We had a great time with crew, cast and producers making that one! We are planning to make bigger short films in the New Year and are looking for funding and sponsors. We are currently planning a science fiction drama based on a biblical Old Testament story! A: We have been blessed, and we wouldn’t have been able to have done these things without the kindness and help of people who have believed in us and continually work hard with us to make films and skits. We are grateful to them and we are grateful to God.
To follow the brothers' work: