Exclusive Interview with Blake Robbins for ‘The Sublime and Beautiful’

– by Gig Patta

No parent should ever endure the loss of their children from a horrific accident.

Veteran actor Blake Robbins makes his directorial debut in the drama “The Sublime and Beautiful.” Robbins also stars in the film as a father coping with the death of his children after DUI driver accidently kills them. The movie touches on the touchy subject of morality, retribution and forgiveness.

Laura Kirk (“The Time Machine”) and Matthew del Negro (“Teen Wolfe” ) also star in the film.

“The Sublime and Beautiful” is currently available on iTunes and VOD via Candy Factory Distribution.

Latino-Review: Where did you come up with the idea for “The Sublime and Beautiful?”

Blake Robbins: I personally had a situation on which I lost my best friend to brain tumor when we were getting out of college. I think I was twenty-seven at the time of his passing. I personally was dealing with grief for twenty plus years now. Also in junior college, my aunt was hit by a drunk driver. She suffered some life-altering injuries.

Certain things overlap with my storyline that I haven’t shared yet in any interview. I went to a reading series and was given 10-15 pages of materials that had a drunk driver theme to it. The guy lost his son and there was a court case with it. Besides the fact, it was such a strong pull to me when I did this material and I understood on what I was dealing with. So the combination of these events, I needed to create my own version of this movie. My version. My story. Even though, that [material] had a drunk driving theme—it wasn’t the story at all. But, I could feel the power in that as an actor.

Latino-Review: Now the movie revolves around grief. So you had to deal with this same type of grief for the past twenty years?

Blake Robbins: Well, I lost a best friend. I haven’t lost any children. I pray to God that I won’t lose any children. It would destroy me. The three kids in the movie are my children. The experiences are pretty much identical, but it is a piece of fiction. As a writer/director, I felt like it was an opportunity to tap into something that was so private and horrifying. I wanted to tell an honest version of it.

Latino-Review: When did you come across the decision to direct and star in your own movie?

Blake Robbins: Well, when I started writing it, I always had the idea to write the role for myself. The opportunity and idea to direct it came much, much later. I was writing the film in 2004-2005 and thought I was going to work with some director friends in the business.

It took us about seven years to get this movie off the ground. By then, I felt prepared to be the director of the film. I felt I had the right voice for it. I knew the story. I knew the specific approach I wanted for the film. As an actor, I’ve seen enough filmmaking go on and thinking that I always had a vision as a storyteller and director. Well, if I can’t hire myself then I can’t expect anyone else to. I have to demonstrate some ability. And by doing that, I had to make my own movie.

Latino-Review: Did you find it difficult to wear that many hats on to one project?

Blake Robbins: Every film is a challenge. They all present their own challenges. Honestly, I had so much creative freedom and had so many people supporting my vision for this film. I had so much talent around me.

I had already written it. I was already willing to improvise with the actors I’m working with. I had already worked with a lot of these actors and knew they were great actors for the right roles. Now it was just creating an environment where everyone could work cohesively and creatively as possible. That was just something I prioritize.

I made sure the monitor was somewhere close to me so I could look at it with each take. We did it in such few takes so once we got it—we just move on. I would only do one thing at a time. When I was directing, I was directing. When I was acting, I was acting. I would just alternative between those things very quickly with a lot of support.

Latino-Review: So what was the greatest challenge for you on this project?

Blake Robbins: I think it was just making sure we were solving our problems creatively in a way that it wouldn’t cost us any additional money. Originally, it was written that Dave was in a church and walks outside. He passes by a Nativity scene. I envisioned a large Nativity scene on a lawn of a church. Then they came to me with prices for Nativity scenes with used ones or borrowed ones. And remember, we had to buy it because it was about to be destroyed. They were in the thousands of dollars just to do this. [Chuckles] Well, I can’t destroy a Nativity scene that’s going to cost me one-tenth of my budget for a minute worth of film.

I found this church that would let us there. I looked around the church and found this stone wall there. Anything we put there will not be destroyed. So I had [someone] go to the 99 Cents Store to create something that I could smash up. That’s what I ended up smashing up instead of a Nativity scene. That’s an example of one [creative solution], but it came as two, three or four a day. It makes sure that the film still works.

Latino-Review: It sounded like financials were a big hurdle. Is that why it took so long for this movie to get off the ground?

Blake Robbins: No, in the minds of other independent films they mostly do. I think we got tangled up with a couple of Hollywood stories on where we thought it was a film to be made for $250,000-$300,000 for a couple of companies. That process would take a year of creative shape-shifting and making the script suitable to one’s desires and with people weighing in. Then some of those falls apart and we’re a year further down the road. So what ended up happening when I realized that no one was going to make this movie possibly, I just needed to make it myself. So how am I going to make it myself?

So I went on this new thing called Kickstarter and there was this minimum amount of money I needed to raise and with a little more from my mom, my mother-in-law and my father to pull that money together. Then I’ll create a relationship with a production company so they could own the backend of the film and use their equipment. I’ll shoot it where I don’t have to pay for location and with people who will help feed us. I started doing that.

I made that decision back in November 2011 and shot it in January 2012. The post did take about a year and a half to two years predominantly we had to work around people’s schedules. They had to honor the jobs that paid them first while doing my job on the side.

It’s also my first time feature. First time features are always harder to get funded and support for. It’s always easier once you’ve shown that you directed a film in order to get the next film going. At least that’s the hope.

Latino-Review: How was it like to work alongside with your kids then?

Blake Robbins: It was great to have them there for those few days. In the film, I’ve separated the stuff that happens to them from what they actually had to do. It was fun. They were outstanding. I knew they were very comfortable with me. I knew they’ll be great for the part.

The part that was tough was that I was making a movie that was so brutally honest on what happens to a husband and wife if something like this happens. As an actor, I had to embody that at times. All I could it was the most heartbreaking thing that could happen to a human being to lose their children. It happens to so many people. I don’t know on how they survive it. I only hope that when they come across this movie that I had portrayed it honestly of what their experiences felt like.

There are horror movies out there, but most filled in with fantasy. This is truly a horror film experience.

Latino-Review: Terrific. Thank you very much for speaking with me, Blake.

Blake Robbins: Thank you. Appreciate it.

“The Sublime and Beautiful” is currently available on iTunes and VOD via Candy Factory Distribution.

Source: Latino-Review

Interviews, Film, LRM Exclusives The Sublime and Beautiful, Blake Robbins