I’ve never felt that I belonged to the time in which I was born, my spirit does not reside in our contemporary world — only my vessel does. Which is why it is so important for me to express what I relish so much with a defence as to why — to the bloody end. I am so delighted to have the opportunity to interview Bright Blue Gorilla founders: Michael Glover & Robyn Rosenkrantz. These two eclectic and charismatic individuals who simply desire to write and produce not only movie scripts, but songs associate with them as well. Over the holidays I plan on watching the entire Bright Blue Gorilla repertoire and of course writing reviews for each and every single one of Bright Blue Gorilla’s 7 films, starting with the newest and working my way back in this order: 36 Husbands (7th film), Mr. Rudolpho’s Jubilee (6th film), Go with Le Flo (5th film), Lose With English (4th film), Karate Film Cafe (3rd film), The Mind of Henry Lime (2nd film), and end with Sister Sarah’s Sky (1st film). This is the order which has been recommended for me to watch, although I kind of watched Mr. Rudolpho’s Jubilee already absent of knowing the proper protocol. Which means, that a review for Mr. Rudolpho’s Jubilee will not take forever to be released. I will tell you this though I genuinely appreciate the quality and work ethic put forth by Michael & Robyn’s efforts; from the film and clips I’ve seen from Bright Blue Gorilla I must admit that I genuinely relish their old word theatrics absent of graphic imagining deception. Don’t get me wrong, I could appreciate a killer graphic motion picture however, it is the careful stitch by stich of the words on the page that transmutates into a living breathing organism with an impenetrable spirit and adventure in its own right – which I truly observe as something quite authentic. For more information on Bright Blue Gorilla and where to watch their diverse and quirky films check out this link.
Michael: It happened one time and hit me very hard: When I was about 18 years old I was in a New Wave band called The Philisteens, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’d recently gotten our first record deal and we were popular in New Mexico and were starting to tour nationally. I’d just written a song that Billboard Magazine chose for their “Top 10 Single Picks”, which, at that time, was the list that radio stations made their playlists from. The record company was very excited about my songwriting and “Can’t Be Love” was getting added all over the place. (Even went to #1 on a few college stations.) That was the closest thing to a “hit song” that I’d written and trying to follow up with another “hit” was what was killing me. Finally, after some weeks of struggling, I finally decided to intentionally write 10 terrible songs. To finish them completely, and actively not care that they sucked. Most of them did suck, but somewhere around number 7 a pretty good song came out. Then I started to relax and my writer’s block was gone. Since that time I’ve always written everything – screenplays & songs & stories – under this concept: Just write it down as it comes to you, sort out the good from the bad later. Don’t judge or edit while you’re writing. (That’s a different part of your brain, the judge/editor.) Just see it, hear it, and put it into form. Decide what’s good or what’s bad later, after you have some distance.
Robyn: I find thinking about creating or thinking about doing something is much harder than actually doing it! We often spend too much energy with theories, about why something will or will not work. Often times the things we think about or are worried about, never come to pass. I find the biggest hurdle to creating is not showing up, not allowing time in my life to create. When you run your own company, and book & promote your own tours, there’s way too much office work to do! It’s easy to forget I’m a musician when I spend most of my time on the computer. But, whenever I do make time, sit down and start playing guitar, melodies come straight away. That’s the easy part. I feel so light and free and it’s so much fun! The words don’t come right away. But I find if I just keep playing and singing the melody over and over, words start to form, it’s almost like a musical trance. It’s like a deep creative meditation, doing my best to get out of the way and just let spirit flow through me. At first I start to sing in a made up language and then, like magic, the words start to form.
Rania: We all have an inner critic, how do you contend with yours?
Michael: To recap what I said above: I have a good relationship with my inner-critic. I only let him out of the cage when I’m editing. When I’m writing, I just let imagination flow, unimpeded. Paul McCartney gave the advice to always finish the song you’re working on. Don’t let it sit too long. I find that works with screenplay scenes too. At least finish your scene before you stop for a break. Pick it up fresh tomorrow. (I also follow Hemingway’s advice: Never “write yourself out” on a given day. Alway quit when you still have energy. That way, you’ll have juice for the morrow.)
Robyn: I agree with Michael, don’t edit as you write. When I just let myself get into it, everything starts to flow, almost like the song or story is writing itself. There’s plenty of time to critique and improve it later. I also do my best to just get out of the way and let the creative spirit play! I strive to not take myself too seriously, keep it light, if it’s not fun, why do it!
Rania: Do you have any artist rituals before writing?
Michael: Meditation is a big part of our lives. That’s really the main thing that keeps us in the creative flow.
Robyn: Life wouldn’t be worth living without meditation! It awakens creativity, joy, peace, clarity and intuition.
Rania: What are your favourite aspects of creating: Mr. Rudolpho\’s Jubilee, 36 Husbands, and Go With Le Flo?
Michael: I love the group-effort vibe that comes with feature films. No matter how clear the writer/director’s vision is, it must be interpreted through the talents of others. That’s one of the fun aspects, and occasional challenges, of working with a big team of talent. (We had about 300 artists with us for 36 Husbands, the same amount for Mr. Rudolpho’s Jubilee. That’s a lot of different artistic vibrations to harmonize!) Occasionally you get a performance that is very different from what was originally envisioned, but if you’re flexible and clever, you can use that to the advantage of the story, of the film. Sometimes an actor or actress can bring something in that really spices up the energy, really brings “lift” to the story. That’s one of the best aspects of collaborating.
Robyn: Making feature films is like building an entire city. It’s something so much bigger than ourselves. And being indie filmmakers, without being able to just throw money at the problem, it can be a huge challenge. As Michael said, it takes a village. It’s so special to dream about something and then to be able to actually take the steps to create it. I love gathering artists and supporters from around the world, to come together and create something positive, beautiful, with the sole goal of bringing joy to others with the finished film. The journey itself is always full of surprises, challenges, miracles, I learn so much making each film. 36 Husbands is number 7 and I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of it!
Rania: What is the origin story of Bright Blue Gorilla?
Michael: It was really like a RomCom! Robyn tells the story better than I do… 🙂
Robyn: In April 1989 my life completely changed when I saw Michael play at the 8121 club/Coconut Teazer on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. We both had a gig that night. Michael saw me play but we didn’t meet. I saw a few of his songs but had to leave early. So I wrote a note on the back of my card (was a massage therapist at the time) and asked my manager Sandy to give it to Michael. It took him 2 weeks to get up the courage to call me! We finally met up, wrote a love song called “Help Me To Understand\” and then fell in love! In May 1990, we quit our L.A. jobs, sold everything we had (except our guitars) and bought one-way tickets to Europe. 30 years later, we’re still on this amazing adventure together! Our goal has always been to create uplifting music and (now movies since 2005). We’ve been blessed to make friends everywhere we go, to live as artists and create with a world-wide community.
Michael: There are so many places we love… Italy is great for the food, the lively passion of the people, and the beauty of many of the cities. Some wonderful artists there. Berlin has a great vibe and a big artist colony there. Lots of creative types in Berlin who love to get involved. Los Angeles is a bit tougher to shoot in, but it has so much variety. You can find a shot for every story in L.A. and a talent pool that is endless. Australia was a new discovery and we absolutely love it there. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface in Australia, as far as what is possible there.
Robyn: Whenever someone invites us to film at their vineyard, sheep station, warehouse, villa, home, restaurant, that’s my favorite place to film! All our locations are donated, and there’s been some extraordinary ones! There are so many generous, open hearted and open minded people all over the world, who love to support the arts. The Universe is amazing. If you know what you are looking for and not afraid to ask for help, you will be led to the perfect location. For 36 Husbands, we and our actors got invited to stay & film at this fantastic vineyard in Australia. They even had a bunch of stuff laying around, that we used to build props. It was a dream come true!
Rania: Which pastry was your favourite in Paris?
Michael: The one that was on my plate!
Robyn: They all make my mouth water just thinking about them! Chocolate croissants are even amazing at the train station.
Rania: I love the old world feel that your movies evoke, how do you feel Indie and Professional movies stand up to each other?
Michael: The major studios make some incredible stuff. There’s a lot to be said for huge budgets. But, they do have trouble not being overly-simple, obvious, story-wise. I think when you have a committee making creative decisions it can pull the life out of a film – in spite of the millions of dollars spent. Major films can also feel “dumbed down”. But, considering the enormous pressure that comes with a multi-million dollar film budget, some surprisingly great films get made. Pixar comes to mind as something of a miracle. Such huge budgets, so many thousands of artisans involved, and yet the finished product feels like one genius-artist\’s perfect vision.
As for indie filming, I love the freedom and the speed of it. It’s wonderful not to have “money people” breathing down your neck. The biggest challenge – and also the fun part – is figuring out how to film something that you’ve visualized. Working with whatever conditions you’ve got. Figuring out a clever movie trick that makes the scene seem real and hides the budget limitations. When you get a good scene in the can it’s a very rewarding feeling. We’re also lucky because we have some fabulously talented people working with us. That’s our big secret: Get good people!
Robyn: Michael said it all! I’ll just add, one of the most fun parts of indie filmmaking is making your own props. Michael comes up with the craziest funniest ideas…in one of our early films, Karate Film Cafe, we needed an espresso machine that sort of comes alive, it’s sort of possessed. We didn’t have the budget to buy one, so we ended up building one out of a trash can, spray painted it gold and Michael blew coca-cola through a straw to look like espresso. We still have that prop in my mom and dad’s garage. We laugh a lot on our sets….
Rania: Which location did you enjoy filming in the most?
Michael: The truest answer would be: All of them! There’s something wonderful about planning a scene, blocking the action, rehearsing and fleshing things out. Then going and shooting it fast! Quick shooting keeps everybody’s energy up and gives a sense of momentum and success. As a young musician I got to work with Craig Leon, the record producer who did the Ramones first album. He said to us in the studio: “You’ve got to have fun. If you’re having fun it will get into the vinyl.” He was right! Same for movies.
Robyn: I also love them all. Each location has something special, unique and also lots of challenges to figure out! One of the most fun things about filming in Berlin was how we got around. We didn’t have a car, so we borrowed a three wheel bicycle from a friend. They are very popular in Germany, Holland and Denmark. There’s a big box attached to the front of the bike, which kids can sit in. Parents cart kids to school in these bicycles. (In India we saw one of these type bikes filled with 6 kids!) This bike ended up being our equipment truck on our film Go with Le Flo. We put our rented Kino Flo lights in this fun contraption! For a few other scenes for Go with Le Flo, our actors and crew all biked to set. And a bunch of us took our rolling trunks full of equipment on the city tram. It was a one-of-a kind shoot and made us feel like big kids!
Rania: When is your favourite time of day to write?
Michael: I usually work early in the day when the energy is fresh. So important not to be “tired” when you write. (That’s also from Hemingway.) But, when I’m screenwriting and things are flowing, sometimes it’s an all day affair. I just do my best to be self-aware and to know when my energy is getting low. Always leave more for tomorrow!
Robyn: Anytime the inspiration strikes!
Rania: Is there a theme you\’d like to explore through your next film?
Michael: Yes. (Sorry, it’s top secret!)
Robyn: Reincarnation 🙂
Rania: What is on the horizon for Bright Blue Gorilla?
Michael: Keep growing, keep going. Go deeper inside ourselves and go farther out into the world!
Robyn: It feels like a brand new journey is coming. Maybe it’s because I feel I am changing so much within….
Rania: If you had a superpower what would it be?
Michael: Sorry. That’s top secret too!
Robyn: Cosmic Consciousness!