Aspiring Filmmaker Brian Robinson Just Finished His First Feature-And is Already Thinking About What's Next
"I used to come out here a lot-now I don't really have too much time to really play ball anymore," says Brian Robinson, the one-man machine behind Baltimore's Grasshopper Philms. His small company has its hand in everything from graphic design and commercial art to filmmaking and weekly art events, and it's one of the reasons why Robinson-aka Grasshopper-rarely gets a chance to chill at Chinquapin Park like he is doing today.
The laid-back Robinson comes across as half boho type, half round-the-way cool cat. People respectfully toss off, "What's up, Grass?" to him as they walk by on their way to the court. "Everything has to be about business now," he says while he changes into his b-ball kicks under a tree near courtside. "I'm promoting films, hosting open mics. I got the Mammaz' Couch Monday's, where we show films," Robinson continues, referring to the weekly event at the Hamilton Arts Collective. "There's food, you can sell your CDs, and all that fun stuff."
For a man always on the hustle, Robinson somehow made the time recently to finish his first feature movie. Robinson, 27, wrote and directed the Baltimore-set dramedy Passers By, which premieres on Friday, June 30, at the Creative Alliance. The flick revolves around a man and a woman who could make a perfect couple if only they realized that they were right under each other's noses. And while Robinson considers himself a born artist, lately he's beginning to realize that it takes a good deal of business savvy to make your creations come to life-and a perfect balance of art and business to achieve success.
"Really it's the art of business," he laughs to himself. "I don't know-it's crazy. I gotta mix them both together like good Kool-Aid, y'know? Art to me is business, right now. I'm doing design, editing the film, writing scripts, casting calls, it's like I'm a damn corporation by myself. I got a few people helping me-my boy Dennis Hill and my girl Samantha Godfrey, and some people I met through working on things here. It's like if Grasshopper Philms is my child, they like the aunts and uncles of it."
It's not at all strange for the Baltimore City Community College business marketing major to refer to his company as a child. He speaks as candidly as a parent about the hard work he devotes to his vision-and about how he's been so emotionally wrecked by the potential of failure. "The reason that I know that I'm supposed to be doing this is because I never been so passionate about anything," he says. "I put tears into this. [For] one of the biggest shoots, I rented a truck [and] had all the actors come in from Delaware, Jersey. We shot all day one of the hardest scenes I ever shot. [And when] we got to the studio, the camera was messed up-all the footage was ruined. Yo, I cried for 10 minutes, and it wasn't just for me, it was everyone, y'know, the cast, everybody involved. I never cried for nothing like that."
It's a fond recollection now, but it's obvious that the filmmaking process, which started last July, was brutal at times. Today, all that is left is a marketing push, which is equally taxing for a one-man conglomerate-a fact he's reminded of as he makes his way to the basketball court, finally, for the first time in weeks.
"That's why I can't hoop, yo-I'm marketing," he says, as the court fills up with more and more people on this sunny summer day. "It's cool to come back, though. People show me love, but they like, `Yo, Grass, where you been?' I'm like, `Doin' me'-because I ain't gonna make no millions right here. I come here to ease my mind so I can focus on what I'ma do next."
While visibly nervous when the topic of the premiere comes up, Robinson also grows excited considering the possibilities that could come of it. In his mind he's already thinking three and four projects down the road-and he just wants to figure out how to get there. "The best-case scenario is after the [premiere] is for me to push the film on the streets like drugs and get the right people to see this and see what I do with no budget, and then gimmie a budget and see what I will do, for real," he says. "That's what's going to happen, that's what has to happen."
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