NRFF Interviews Kevin Schmutzler, a director of ROBIN


Directors:  Toby Schmutzler and Kevin Schmutzler

Since their childhood, Kevin and Toby made movies together. After school, they attended Universities in Stuttgart and Bayreuth and did their master degrees in media culture and economics (Kevin) and media studies (Toby). In 2015 they founded FilmCrew looking to capture stories that move people more than just show pixels on a screen. A passion piece, the cast, and crew on ROBIN gave up remuneration for their labour so that the maximum amount of money could be raised and donated to charity. Much of their budget was raised through sponsorship including locations, camera equipment, and accommodation. Interview by Massimo Barbato, Creative Director, NRFF.

1.       Congratulations on being a part of the 2018 edition of the New Renaissance Film Festival in London. How does it feel to be part of this summer’s programme?

It’ s amazing to be part of the programme! We really appreciate getting the chance to screen our movie despite that there have been many submissions of a high standard. So thank you for that, and hopefully the audience will approve and enjoy our movie.

2.       What is the basic premise of ROBIN?

John, a man of words (a poet), is forced to become a man of action as he discovers the secret bucket list of his terminally ill son Robin. The two secretly abscond from the hospital to begin a father-son adventure in South Africa that will fulfill the boy’s last wishes.

3.       What inspired you to make this film?

Through working on previous film projects, we had the chance to meet lots of children around the globe who don’t have the chances you and I have. Their stories, their faith and their attitude towards life was  our inspiration and starting point in making this movie.

4.       How did you cast for the roles and prepare for an action-based shoot?

We spent a lot of time looking for our father-son duo. We searched through all the child agencies and found Aiden Flowers. After contacting his agent we recorded a short video message for him and his family. And a few days after they saw that, my brother was on a plane to Mississippi to meet Aiden and his dad (who should receive the “Dad of the year” award if you want to implement a new category!). Both, Aiden and Jeff Burrell – who played his father – had been our first choice for the roles and fortunately they – like us – would do anything for this movie.

Shooting on a different continent had been a logistical challenge. There were lots of things we tried to do on the fly whilst on the shoot in Cape Town. Some worked out and made it into the movie, others didn’t.  One day our shooting permit was cancelled a day before we had planned to shoot in our desired location. That’s one of those moments when you know whether you have a strong team or not. Luckily we were, and worked through the night, improvised and found somewhere new.

5.       What was the greatest challenge you faced in making ROBIN?

Definitely the tight budget we were operating on. Not that it made things impossible, there is always a way to get things done and find a solution. But if you can’t pay for what you need with money, it’ll cost you time. On the other hand that’s the spirit the project was based on – only those people who really wanted to join the project came on board. This biggest challenge was also the biggest asset.

6.       What was the most rewarding aspect of making the film?

We did a charity campaign alongside the movie to raise money for children like Robin, with a terminal disease. After about a month of fundraising, we were able to donate more than 25tsd € to charity. Our aim was always to give back to the children who had inspired us.

7.       Does the film have a central message (or emotion) you want to share with our audience?

ROBIN is about the conflict between life and quality of life. Do you want to survive against all the odds or do you want to experience as much you can, whilst you can?

8.       What are your future plans for this film and are there any others in the pipeline you can talk about?

We hope to find somebody who can help us make ROBIN accessible for a lot of people and want to continue to use it for charity purposes also. Concerning our next project we are working on a movie based in northern Kenya. Again there is a charity background which on this occasion is focused on “Education in Africa”. We hope to have everything ready to shoot in 2019.

ROBIN will screen at the New Renaissance Film Festival on Thursday 23 August, BLOCK B: MINDBLOWING STORIES,  1.45-3.20 PM, at the CLOSE-UP arthouse Cinema in Shoreditch, London. For programme and ticket information CLICK HERE.