Review Fix chats with actress and director Robbie Barnes, who discusses the creative process and inspiration behind her latest short, “Beyond Repair.”
For more on the film, click here.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in film?
Robbie Barnes: The first movie I remember watching on repeat was Terminator at four years old. My parents explained to me it was all pretend so I wouldn’t be scared, and it made me excited that you can ‘play make believe’ to that extent. That excitement never went away. I started off acting in theater and eventually slipped into the world of film-making. The first movies I was apart of and what helped me network when I first started was getting involved with the 48-hour film project; it’s a film festival that takes place in several cities across the United States and you only have from Friday evening-Sunday afternoon to get a film written, shot, and edited. I started writing and shooting my own stuff just over a year ago because I wanted to be the one in control of the storyline. There was only so much I could do as an actor and I wanted to branch out and do something different.
Review Fix: How was this film born?
Barnes: My fiancé and I both work for the auto show and travel from city to city. Over Christmas, we were able to go visit my family in Cleveland, OH, but had to get back to Indianapolis because the show starts on December 26. So we packed up and started the trek after holiday festivities. Around 2 am, we both needed to use a restroom but being Christmas it was very hard finding someplace open. I remember it feeling like there was nothing around us, dark, and there was fog everywhere. We passed one stop because we couldn’t see the sign until the last minute. Finally, we were approaching a rest area so we pulled in. There were several cars in the parking lot – one who had someone sitting in their car with the headlights on – and it was well lit, so neither of us felt like we should be concerned. When we walked inside, there was a man sitting in the middle on a bench between the bathrooms, rocking and staring at the floor. My fiancé and I both used the bathrooms, and I checked the stalls to see if there was anyone else in there that he might be waiting on. There wasn’t. I met my fiancé back in the lobby and the man was just staring into the back of his head. We quickly got out there, and wondered “where are all the people who own these cars?” The person with the headlights on was still there with their headlights on. As soon as we pulled out, I knew there was going to be a script written and I finished the first draft for Beyond Repair that week!
Review Fix: What was the relationship of the cast like?
Barnes: My cast and crew were fantastic. My lead actress, Kinsley Funari-Coleman, and my director of photography, Chris Langer, I’ve known for a few years and when I had the script near finished I got in touch with them to see if they’d be interested. We had a production meeting and went over when we could shoot, what locations we’d need, and who else we’d cast. Everyone was on board and felt passionate about this project. They all wanted to see it done right because they liked the story. I got really lucky with this group of people! Even with getting the public bathroom and gas station – I posted a status on FB to get any leads, and had a friend from high school who volunteered his place of employment for a night and the gas station owner is a very kind man who agreed after a phone call. The pieces just fell together. This was one of the best casts and crews I’ve worked with and we will definitely be making more at some point.
Review Fix: How did this film make you better at your craft?
Barnes: I would say it made me better because it made me realize that the horror genre is my strong suit. I want to stick with that genre and focus on making that particular type of film. It’s also taught me to only bring on people who are passionate about the projects they’re doing – if they don’t love it, they’re not the right fit.
Review Fix: Why does Horror still matter to you?
Barnes: Like I said, I grew up on horror movies! I’ve always loved Halloween, worked in haunted houses as well as visited them, and have had elaborate decorations on and around my family’s house for years. People like being ‘safe-afraid.’ It creates an adrenaline rush, but you know you’ll be fine by the end of the movie! Also, it plays into people’s deep fears. My mom isn’t much of a horror fan – though supportive! – but she’s asked the question regarding slasher films, ‘why would anyone want to see this? There are bad people really doing that stuff.’ And while that’s true, maybe it actually puts people on guard to pay attention to weird behaviors. How many times I’ve been in a real-life scenario and thought, “this is how horror movies begin,” and left said situation.
Review Fix: How is this different from the other films you’ve been involved in?
Barnes: The biggest difference between this and other films I’ve been a part of is this was my first horror short as a director and not an actor. As an actor, I show up once in production and once wrapped, my job is done. With this one I was a part from start to finish, from developing the idea, writing it several times, finding a crew and then a cast, going through the footage, editing it, and now being a part of interviews and reviews as well as film festival submissions. I have much more of an attachment to projects as a director and I enjoy that.
Review Fix: Bottom line-why must someone see this film?
Barnes: People should see this film because of the awareness it brings. Woman or man, I think people ignore their intuition. My want for this film is if it makes you question something that makes you feel uneasy in real-life, I’ve done my job. Trust your instincts when you feel something is off.
Review Fix: How do you want this film to ultimately be remembered?
Barnes: I want it to raise the hair on the back of the audience necks and every time you pull into a gas station, rest area, welcome center, any isolated parking lot at night to think of this film and pay attention to your surroundings.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Barnes: The next short we’re looking to do the lead actress, Kinsley, and I are going to swap roles. I’m going to be the lead in it and she’s going to be directing. It’s a short fantasy/dark romance written by playwright Greg Vovos. And my actor who played the mechanic is also making a feature length film that he wrote, so I plan on being on that project as well wherever he needs me. As far as a project that is written and directed by me, I plan on either extending Beyond Repair into a feature length or start working on a dark vampire story based off tales from New Orleans.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Barnes: Yes, I also have a feature film done that is also making its rounds through the festival circuit and will hopefully find itself with a distribution deal called, “Whatever It Takes.” It’s a suspense-thriller about a woman who’s an actress living in Los Angeles with her musician boyfriend. As they struggle to make their dreams come true, she lives a secret life as a high-class escort to pay their bills behind his back. One of her repeat clients ends up falling in love with her and begins to manipulate and destroy her life. She’s torn between getting help from the authorities or handling it herself in fear of losing her relationship and reputation if her secret gets out. Keep an eye out for that one as well!