Some of you may recognize Bobby's face. He's had a few films at the VFF, including MARK, the next film in our weekly shorts showcase. Whether you've seen it at the festival or this will be a first time viewing, we know you'll enjoy it. Bobby gave himself a good challenge, MARK is an action film shot in still images.
About: Born and raised in Minnesota on Lake Superior’s north shore, Bobby Willis has been a storyteller since he was five years old. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth were he found his interest in the arts, which then lead him to filmmaking. He pursued his passion for film by traveling to, and living on, both coasts. While living in New York and then Los Angeles, Bobby honed his filmmaking and acting talents. Ultimately, he settled back in Minneapolis. “Making the very art friendly Minneapolis my home, I found I was getting more done than in the typical filmmaking cities," he reflects.
During his first years in Minneapolis, Bobby worked in freelance production, an atmosphere that inspired him to start Digital Hotdish and Below Zer0 Films. Since then he has had films in several film festivals and has won a national ad contest. He is currently developing new projects and is sure to be a filmmaker you'll be hearing more about in the near future.
How long have you been directing/writing? I’ve been writing since I was five years old. My mother would hand-write my stories down as I dictated them to her. I’ve been directing for nine years.
How many short films have you directed? Seven short films total, but have directed many more television ads, marketing pieces, industrials, and eLearning videos. Each time is a learning experience.
What is your top advice for first-time directors? Just get out there and do it! We live in an exciting time where getting your hands on a digital video camera is easy. Use your smart phone if you have to and tell a story that fits the type of camera you are using.
Don’t try to tell a bigger story than what your skillset, budget and locations can handle. Short films are great learning tools.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Gather a team, grab a camera and go learn. You’ve already failed if you never take the leap.
Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I might be biased since my background is in post-production, but editing the film is what I enjoy the most. I like to grab a cup of coffee and begin creating. You feel like a painter with your blank canvas and your palette of paint before you.
What drew you to wanting to tell this story? La Jetée by Chris Marker, is one of my favorite short films. The story is told in a ciné-roman style. Which explores telling a narrative using still imagery and a voiceover. I also am a huge graphic novel fan. So, I wanted to combine both of these interests and see if I could come up with a story I could tell using these techniques.
What kind of camera did you shoot on? Canon EOS 5D Mark II
What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? The biggest challenge was that I was using still images to make an action styled film. I had to find creative ways to show action while under those restrictions.