TV DIRECTOR SPEAK: Robin Adams

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We caught up with Egg Films’ newest young director Robin Adams…

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW HAS THIS SHAPED YOU AS A FILMMAKER? 

Cape Town, born and raised. I’ve always had a strong passion for drawing, art and photography. I went on to study writing and directing at AFDA. I was then given the opportunity to work at Velocity Films, where I spent a good few years working alongside Keith Rose, one of the greatest directors our country’s ever seen.

This gave me an immense understanding of how big budget productions operate, through all phases of production. Each and every job has its own unique set of obstacles and challenges. Having gone through many of these in my time at Velocity, I feel I now have the confidence not only in my understanding as a creative but also in being able to trust my gut.

WAS A CAREER IN FILM & TV PRODUCTION ALWAYS THE PLAN?

Not at all! Where I come from, this was always maybe a stretch too far outside of what’s possible. I mean I always knew that I was NOT going to end up in some corporate 9 to 5. I imagined myself possibly doing graphic design or art direction; I even did a few short courses at AAA but quickly realised as much as I love advertising, that side of the business wasn’t for me. I found out about AFDA in Cape Town, and after visiting their campus I was sold and directing was what I had to do.

WHAT KIND OF CONTENT DO YOU ENJOY CREATING? 

As a filmmaker today, this is starting to feel like quite a loaded question. Are you into making features or commercials? TV or webisodes? Do you vlog? Are you a music video guy? Mainstream or arthouse? Action, comedy, or drama?  With the amount of content accessible to us – whether you’re on your couch, in the cinema, taking a cab or even on the loo – I feel that it’s all starting to feel a little same-y. To me content is content is content and I enjoy creating it.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU CREATIVELY?

The real world! People. Drama. Family and cooking. Lighting, lensing, camerawork. Music. Movies, music videos and art. Content… Photography, architecture and colour.  Clothing and shoes. Instagram – THE INTERNET. Inspiration for me is all around.

YOU RECENTLY JOINED EGG, WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

I just wrapped up my first job with Egg for Protex and now I’m back to pitching on the next one.

UNTIL NOW YOU’VE FOCUSED ON COMMERCIALS, ANY PLANS FOR A FEATURE LENGTH PROJECT IN THE FUTURE?

Right now I’m very happy to have signed with Egg and I’m fully focused on developing my commercials reel. It’s quite difficult to juggle film and commercials simultaneously, especially when you’re just starting out, as they’re both full-time commitments. I like features, and with films like The Wound, Five Fingers for Marseiles and Nommer 37 doing so well on the international festival grid, it’s definitely an exciting time for local filmmakers and something to think about for the future.

WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS?

I’ve had two great mentors so far in my career. The most recent and obvious being Keith Rose. The other more longstanding mentor has been Argus photographer Willie De Klerk, my grandfather. He taught me how to use a camera when I was a kid and was a guiding voice throughout my studies and even into my time with Keith.

TOP THREE FAVOURITE DIRECTORS OF ALL TIME?

Alejandro Inarritu.

Quentin Tarantino.

Martin Scorcese, in no particular order.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CAREER CHALLENGE TO DATE AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

These two questions are very much the same to me; I could swap my answers around and they would be true for either. As most industry folk will tell you, working for Keith is no easy feat. Keith is possibly the most hardworking person I’ve ever met. His attention to every minute detail and drive to constantly push the boundaries – his own and those of everyone involved on his projects- is relentless. It’s safe to say that this has to be right up there as both a challenge and a highlight.

I also think that the industry is inundated with a certain type of director, in Cape Town at least. You’re going to have to look quite long and hard to find an exception to that. There aren’t many black or more specifically, coloured directors here. Across the mass of directors in Cape Town, I’d say there’s one or two. Now that I’ve signed with Egg, I feel that’s been broken somewhat and I’m very proud to say it.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM SHOOT LOCATION? 

There are so many to choose from… Having travelled there recently on my honeymoon, I have to say New York City. There’s so much magic around, wherever you go. And from what I hear about filming there, it’s no simple task. I would say having free reign to shoot there would be quite the dream.

ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WANTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN FILM & TELEVISION?

It’s not for everyone. It’s not simple or easy. I feel that you should know with every part of your being that this is what you truly want to do with your life. I’m not sure of the statistics but of the people in my year at AFDA, if 10 are successfully working in the film industry right now, that’s a lot, and that’s not a criticism of AFDA. However, if you truly are passionate about it, it’s very possible to make a success of it. Have no backup plans and go all the way. Also, “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen” (Baz Luhrmann).

IF YOU WEREN’T A FILMMAKER, YOU WOULD BE…? 

Probably a chef or Elon Musk.

 

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