OG Co-Founder + Contributing Editor of Asheville Grit. I'm all about enjoying food, art, music + living the dream.
I recieved a message via our Facebook page that made me smile and inspired me to interview Ashevillian Craig Robinette about the exciting opportunity that he and his friends are in the midst of. Check out some of their films, watch their submission in the New Amsterdam Vodka "It's Your Town" People's Picks competition, and VOTE to help them win >
"Hey Asheville Grit. Not sure if it is newsworthy but friends of mine who are annual participants (and winners) in the Asheville 48 hour film fest were asked to compete in a national competition for New Amsterdam vodka highlighting an aspect of their hometown. They just found out that they have beaten cities across the US and are now in the top 5 finalists (against San Francisco, LA, Detroit, and Milwaukee). The prize is $5000 and will be announced at a awards ceremony at the Chinese Theater in LA...."
Everyone should have such great friends.
Asheville Grit: Tell us about yourself and your team and how and when you became interested in the 48 Hour Film Project Asheville?
Craig Robinette: I grew up in nearby Bristol, Tennessee, and I'm the 6th out of 7 children. My parents, 4 sisters, and 2 brothers are all super creative and funny people. I lived in Boston prior to moving to Asheville, and I had competed in the 48 Hour Film Project there for 3 years with friends. When I moved to Asheville to be closer to home, I was excited to finally get to participate in the Asheville 48 Hour Film Project with my brothers, Martin and Noble. I also knew family members could help with music when necessary. We recruited local author and friend, Jake Bible, and our friend Chip Zimmerman, to create Team Long Shot. Noble studied film in college, Martin and Chip perform in local theater projects, and Jake shares our same twisted sense of humor. So, three years ago, we decided to give it a try here in Asheville and have been loving it ever since.
Brown Fat from Noble Robinette on Vimeo.
Team Long Shot's 2014 submission to the Asheville 48 Hour Film Project where their genre was Sci-Fi
AVLGrit: You've not only participated in the project, but you've also won. Can you share some highlights of your past experiences and how that led to the New Amsterdam Vodka "It's Your Town" competition?
Craig: We have a small, tight-knit team, so after we learn our genre, the line of dialogue, the prop, and the character, the five of us sit down and start hashing out ideas and possible story lines. Everyone pitches in, and worst case, if you have an awful idea, you're just ignored and ripped on a little. There's a lot of laughter and disturbing ideas pitched, and eventually, Jake types out the screenplay as this process continues. The scary thing about it is not knowing whether audiences will enjoy your film. Fortunately, our films have been accepted and enjoyed by local audiences, so that's helped our confidence. We haven't won the overall best film yet (hopefully some day!), but we are proud of winning "Audience Favorite" for three years in a row and other awards, such as Best Editing, Best Actor, and Best Use of Character. This success, I think, helped us get nominated by Bruce Sales, the producer of the Asheville 48 Hour Film Project, to be one of the five competing teams from Asheville for the New Amsterdam competition.
AVLGrit: The goal of the competition is for filmmakers to show off what makes their town unique. What was the inspiration behind your piece, "Be Your Own Venue", and the people you chose to feature?
Craig: There are so many wonderful things about Asheville, but we realized we only had 3 to 5 minutes to tell a story. Rather than try to hit all of the great aspects, we figured telling a story about one or two features would help us stay focused and not be all over the place. Tom Godleski is a dear friend of ours who worked with my wife for many years. He has lived in Asheville his whole life and has so many talents he shares with the community. Ryan Williams is also a valuable member of our community for so many reasons, and he's also simply a cool guy! I once received a random message on my voicemail from Ryan saying, "I have this crazy idea that I want to do in West Asheville, and I want to see what you think. I also want you to video tape it." (Now Jake does all the filming.) I called him up and he went on to describe how he wanted to start a pop-up chorus that would meet once a week in the summer to sing and record different songs. He pitched the idea to the Mothlight, found some old chorus risers, and sure enough, now it's a fun, unique event that many people look forward to. He has given an outlet to people who normally just sing in the shower! Now people can sing, meet new friends, and have a good time for an hour and a half on a random Tuesday night. Also, many local musicians provide the back-up music. All of this was started by Ryan, who fully admits to not having a clue as to how to be a choir director!
Besides the Mothlight Singing Sessions, Ryan also hosts "house concerts" like the documentary describes. He started with local musicians and now even hosts some national touring groups that he hears about through the local bands. Instead of potluck dinners like before, he now invites a local food truck to come and park in his side yard to provide meals. The events are family friendly and are a great time for everyone. His goal in each case was to bring the community together, and he has done that.
Asheville is a town of so many creative and community-minded people, but also one of transition. We knew we wanted to feature these two because they fit what we love about this place. There were no scripts involved. We just wanted something that would be authentic and not contrived. We knew that New Amsterdam wanted a documentary, not a commercial, but we weren't sure our ideas was what they were looking for. We loved it though, so we were excited when we learned New Amsterdam loved it as well! Of course, with any 48 hour film project, there were shots we wished we had gotten after the fact, but you just have to let it go!
Their 2013 submission to the Asheville 48 Hour Film Project
AVLGrit: My understanding is that you guys are in the top 5 finalists along with the films from San Francisco, Detroit, Milwaukee, and LA. That's some impressive company for our little Asheville to be in. How exciting is this for you and to have this national exposure not only for your work, but to Asheville itself?
We are thrilled to be finalists in this competition, especially against the big cities. We are also thrilled to have won Asheville's competition, because, we feel like as a whole, the quality of films that were entered was very high compared to other cities. I'm also very excited for my brother, Noble, because he is in the film industry as a career, and this, along with some other short films he's made recently, have been successful. Asheville has gotten a lot of exposure recently for the "top everything" lists, so I'm not sure what else our little film will contribute to that. One of my favorite parts of the movie though was how Tom described meeting a woman who just moved from a bigger town and wondered how she could contribute. Many people move here and seem to want it to be just like the place from where they came. That can be frustrating. Ryan, we think, shows some small ways transplants can contribute. Overall, though, hopefully our little film shows that Asheville is a good place with many good people.
AVLGrit: Indeed. Couldn't agree more. Well, we hope you guys get tons more votes between now and Feb 17th and win this thing. < VOTE HERE! > But either way, what is next for you and your team? Will you be entering into the 48 Hour Film Project Asheville this year as well?
Thanks! We are definitely planning on participating in the Asheville 48 Hour Project this summer. We also are planning to start raising funds and begin production on our first feature film called Malk, which is based on a crazy mockumentary we made back in 2012 about the male lactation movement. We hope to work with some other filmmakers whom we've met through the 48 Hour competitions during the past several years. Noble just gave a talk at a PechaKucha event in Knoxville about our goal to get this made soon, and, as expected, was met with lots of uncomfortable laughter. His talk is now one of the featured "picks" on the PechaKucha website!