SPIN STATE - An Interview with Jamie Robson
We're excited to bring you one of the first exclusive teaser trailers for the upcoming feature film SPIN STATE, directed by Ross Wilson. We caught up with Little Wing alumn and leading actor, Jamie Robson, on delivering SPIN STATE through the pandemic and his thoughts on this opportunistic moment for independent film.
What can you tell us about Spin State?
I was asked to audition for the film a couple of years ago. The script was very impressively written and I was excited by the character of Kline. I met with Ross (the writer and director) for what was meant to be a screen-test but we ended up getting pissed and jostled around some art galleries. Needless to say, we got on spectacularly and have become close friends. The film revolves around Kline, a private detective, meeting Dana, a scientist concerned about something her husband is involved in. However it opens up into a realm of symbolism and existentialism. The rusty, isolated, post-industrial backdrop it’s set against isn’t shy about echoing our current political climate.
How does the film fit into your career path?
My career started with performance art, music videos and short films. Spin State was my debut feature. To be in the leading role brought additional responsibility but I work better under pressure of expectation. Before the film was even finished, I felt the effects of starring in a feature on my trajectory. It maybe legitimised me, in my eyes and perhaps others.
How was getting it over the line during the pandemic?
The pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time, but everyone just soldiered on and made do - there’s nothing more sophisticated to it. It’s just a case of observing the constantly shifting landscape and adapting accordingly. Ross managed to get the sound and grade finished even though many studios were closed. So now the film is complete, the focus is on the delivery. Certainly the physical festivals are a minority for the time being and that brings challenges with regards to distribution and press but there are alternatives as we’re seeing with online events, direct sales and VOD solutions.
How have you stayed creative during the pandemic?
I work on my skills daily. I’m very disciplined (or perhaps more inquisitive) about my craft. So being creative is a constant process for me. I’m still getting opportunities to meet, zoom or tape - just not quite as frequently. So, it’s certainly quieter than usual but the demand for content remains. Everyone watches film and television in some manner most days - the industry isn’t going away, it’s just being forced to evolve.
What opportunities (silver linings) do you think this has brought about?
In a sense, the industry was very set in its ways. It can be hard for outsiders to break through unless via authorised channels and endorsements. Protocols that are in place to welcome new talent can be just as restrictive as they are accessible. However now there’s a frontiers feeling to it all - an unknown, unmapped, unconfirmed quality to it all. The presence of online events have taken huge leaps in legitimacy, more is being done remotely and perhaps most exciting is the opportunity this all brings to lower budget, independent projects. While a huge production with international cast and crew, multiple international locations and famous names can weigh down the shoot, making it cumbersome and vulnerable - a smaller, lighter, economical project can adapt and reschedule day to day. It likely has less people on set, less locations to manage and less outgoings. I had this theory around March when the lockdowns started but it’s been proven since. I know many huge studio films still struggling to restart while I can list a dozen smaller projects that have shot regardless of the restrictions and challenges. This really excites me as I’ve always supported the idea of a more European style film industry.
What advice would you give for filmmakers and actors wanting to maintain career momentum despite the current limitations?
My advice would be look outside - stuff is still happening. Yes, there’s a new landscape to navigate but it’s not a wasteland. Actors can rest assured, people are still making shorts which are an important career step and features are still being made, particularly independent ones which are more likely to cast new talent. Filmmakers need to look to each other for motivation. Many projects are certainly carrying on regardless. Truthfully, the less people you have watching over you (funding body’s, exec producers, private interests) why should it stop? Adapt, adjust, modify... I also joke, when shoots seem hard, watch the making of Fitzcarraldo or The Island of Dr. Moreau - that’ll put things into perspective! In summary, even if there is less going on, that increases your chances in festivals, sales and press. If you’re genuinely frustrated with the broader industry, don’t let this temporary obstacle dissuade you - turn it into an opportunity to manifest change. I know for a fact that other people are.
Jamie Robson is an award-winning actor, who supports numerous film related charities and events. He is the patron for Little Wing Film Festival.