Robert Benjamin is the writer/director of Sparks, which won the first SciFiPulse Award, which was hosted at the KWC Film Fest in early April. Part of the prize was for the winner to be interviewed by us here on the website. So we put together a few questions for Robert and below is what he shared about his movie-making experience.
SciFiPulse: First off congratulations. How does it feel to be the first winner of the SciFiPulse Award for outstanding science fiction short film?
Robert Benjamin: Thank you so much!! It always feels amazing to be recognized for your hard work in any regard, but to be the first recipient of the SciFiPulse Award is something extra special! I can’t thank you all enough for this honor.
SFP: How did you get into film making and which writers and directors would you say have most inspired you?
Robert Benjamin: I’ve always wanted to make movies, starting in elementary school. My father purchased an RCA VHS camcorder one day in the mid eighties… and subsequently never saw it again.
It wasn’t until my twenties that I started taking it seriously, with a series of shorts, trying to find my voice and hone a craft if one existed. Because I’m a child of the 80’s, I don’t think my cinematic role models will be too surprising. Spielberg, Zemeckis, Scorsese… their movies really crafted my childhood and introduced me to the art of supreme storytelling.
SFP: Where did the idea for Sparks come from and how long did it take for you to bring it all together?
Robert Benjamin: I had been very fascinated by the use of motion control in films. Seemed like anything was possible, and it just so happened that my good friend and DP, Sean Gearing, had just purchased one. So the idea actually came from the possibilities of using that technology. One of my first thoughts was to cast one actor to play several roles, creating the illusion of a factory of robots. Once the love interest idea came into play and deciding that his CPU wasn’t strong enough to handle the emotion of love, thus causing his fragile, little robot heart to explode, I knew I was on to something kinda fun. The rest just took off from there.
SFP: For me, one of the great things about your film is that it kind of has a modern day fairytale feel to it. Was that the kind of feel that you were going for?
Robert Benjamin: Yes, I think that’s exactly the right take away. I also kind of saw it as a live-action Pixar tale. A little darker, but a similar vibe. It’s absolutely written with the classic fairy tale structure in mind, regarding the hero saving the damsel in distress, albeit this damsel is on another level. Updated to take place in the not too distant future, where humanity has relied even more on technology to function, and then some, I tried to convey that, even in a heavily electric future, humanity, and the goodness within it, can and will always shine through, even if the source isn’t technically all that human.
SFP: Who did the music for the film because it really stood out and did a great job of enhancing your story?
Robert Benjamin: The score was done by my very talented friend, Zach Valdivia, and this was the first short he ever fully scored. He and I worked together and a Movie Trailer post house, where he was one of the music supervisors. Once he got wind of the film, he immediately asked to do the score. I really hadn’t heard much of his stuff, other than a couple of indie rock songs he had recorded, but I sensed that the talent was there. Let me tell ya, he blew me away. Far surpassed what I was hoping for. And you asking this question is proof.
SFP: It seems to me that you could easily continue the story of Sparks if you wanted. Have you had any thoughts of a sequel or do you feel its best left as a stand-alone?
Robert Benjamin: I think in the back of my mind, I could either continue the story or expand Sparks into a feature. I wouldn’t mind seeing where the relationship between our two protagonists go, assuming it may even venture into darker waters, so that could be fun. It’s not very high on my list at the moment, but it’s certainly a possibility.
SFP: Do you have any other projects on the go that you’d like to mention?
Robert Benjamin: As a matter of fact I do! I am currently writing this from the Gold Coast in Australia where we are in production on my first feature! It’s called Bloody Hell and is due out sometime next year.
You can check out more of Robert Benjamin’s film making credits here on his IMDB profile.