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Imagine if you were to mistakenly tape over your parents wedding video. The most special day in the lives of the most special people in yours – gone, forever. That is the hilarious premise of the new short film VHYes directed by Jack Henry Robbins, who shot and directed the entire comedy on VHS to give the entire experience a retro, nostalgic feel. The son of Hollywood legends Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Robbins knew from an early age he wanted to direct films and began by honing his skills at USC film school. Shortly after graduation, Robbins directed a documentary called Storied Streets about America’s homeless population, with his mother as executive producer. There was no turning back or slowing down from there, as Robbins has been writing and directing nonstop, with two of his films being accepted to the Sundance Film Festival. The Overhead Compartment was excited to catch up with Jack Henry Robbins to hear all about his latest short film, what it’s like to be the son of two living legends, and learn what life is like for a New York kid living in LA.
VHYes is opening exclusively in all Alamo Drafthouse theaters on January 17th, 2020.
THE OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT with Jack Henry Robbins begins now….
OC: You wrote and directed your new short film VHYes and shot it entirely on VHS. Why did you choose to shoot it that way?
JHR: The birth of VHS gave everyone the ability to make movies for better or for worse. In a way it was the first iPhone. This led to an avalanche of weird and strange content everywhere. From workout videos with cats, to basement punk shows. Everyone’s idea could be utilized. This good bad world made it so that VHS is a fertilizer for comedy.
Me and my creative partners decided to explore this just for fun when we made a series of shorts that got into Sundance 2017 and 2018. Hot Winter: A film by Dick Pierre was a porno about climate change without the sex. And Painting with Joan (which you can see on vimeo) was a Bob Ross-ish parody. Then from there we were off to the races. Addicted to tape.
OC: In what way is the film industry better as a result of the digital age?
JHR: Is it? I think more people can make professional movies very easily. That’s exciting. Florida Project came about because a guy had an iPhone and made Tangerine. People suddenly could make beautiful images and share them. Also movies and content if you can ween it out is much more readily available which is wonderful. I wish that studios would make one less super hero movie and fund 50 independent films and i guarantee you one of them will be incredible and make all the money back.
OC: In what ways did your parents careers mold you into the film maker you are today?
JHR: Every morning they tell me what to do, what to write, how to feel, and who to pursue sexually.
OC: In 2017 and 2018 two of your films were accepted for the Sundance Film Festival. What was that experience like?
JHR: It was amazing. To make two completely off the wall silly films that got critical acclaim was a life and career affirming moment. That you can make a porno about climate change and get into Sundance made me believe in humanity. Also, Sundance is super fun. I got to dance on the same dance floor as Usher. That was an incredible experience. I’ve never seen so many women reduced to their carnal existence. I wish I was that good at anything.
OC: You were born and raised in NYC and now live in Los Angeles, the two centers of show business in America. In what ways are the creative energy different in the two?
JHR: In LA you drive to get places in NYC you drive not to kill people. In NYC you earn joy more than LA, but LA there is so much space which is an amazing plus for a creative human. LA feels very collaborative. I would want to raise a kid in NYC, it’s just stronger, and honestly, it’s an amazing thing to be able to see waves of completely different people all the time. LA doesn’t have seasons. But I do love both.
OC: What is your favorite place to visit when you are back home in New York?
JHR: The Met and the restaurant Basta Pasta. Also just to hang with my mom, my brother Miles and Nadine. Going on long walks and finding new things to love about the city that is endless and always changing.
OC: What are your three favorite restaurants in LA?
JHR: Shibumi, Myanmar Corner, and Pine and Crane.
OC: What was the most interesting city your film directing has ever taken you to?
JHR: I went across the country filming a documentary about America’s homeless population called Storied Streets. Although this was not an overall cheery subject, it was an incredible experience. From Denver to Kansas and Pittsburgh, it was a great experience to see the country in a car with people I loved. But New Orleans is the best city in America.
OC: What do you like to do in your free time?
JHR: Museums, concerts, and really intense cross fit workouts. I also love lying. LA has such beautiful nature, and nightlife. Jazz nights at 1642 temple. There’s just a lot of fun to be had, and experiences to fill your heart with.
OC: What is the first thing you do when arriving in a hotel room?
JHR: Jump on the bed throw my shoes against the wall, and ask myself how many strangers have had sex on the bed I’m about to sleep in.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
JHR: My shoes.
Jack Henry Robbins, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!