Duaine Carma Robert is only 21, yet he’s already perfecting his craft with his dramas that are placing him on the map as the next rising star of British Cinema. Last year, he produced his first ever film “Curiosity Calls” with a successful premier screening. This year, he’s at it again with “Cleo’s Choice”; a second film that’ll have its screening this Friday…it is clear that there is no signs of him slowing down right now.
Why should he? He is placing Birmingham on the map. With more money flooding into the area to provide opportunities away from London (*hint hint* “Peaky Blinders” season premiere), it’s no wonder that Birmingham is becoming the next upcoming city for all things entertainment.
Anyways, resuming back to this young man himself, we had the pleasure of having a chat with him, focussing on his success so far under his independent company Carma Films. He gives his thoughts about the rise of independent filmmakers right now that who are taking Hollywood, as well as his thoughts about the diversity topic and. Plus, Roberts provides new prospects of producing a comic-sci-series with the next generation talent.
Interview after the jump.
1. Right now Duaine, you’re the trailblazer from the Midlands producing high quality dramas – which is something different. We’ve been watching you and humbled that you’re having an interview with us.
I’m truly honoured that you see me as a trailblazer for Midlands film, as I’m only 21 and I’m still learning new things everyday. I see you as one of the best online hubs for British film and media in general, so thank you again.
2. Firstly “Curiosity Calls”, with a star studded premier last year (that we wished we had attended), and now your second major film project “Cleo’s Choice”. Guess world-changers don’t waste time…
Curiosity Calls was a mind-blowing experience. I pretty much took a risk and chose to produce a one hour film. That was inspired by Scream and a lot of nineties horror and mystery films. The turn out to the premier was amazing and it’s a night I’ll never forget.
3. There is a huge push to promote the Film & Television industry in the Midlands. Especially with the premier of the third Season of the hit BBC “Peaky Blinders”. What is your take of the film industry in the North?
The film industry here isn’t as big as London, I will admit. Recently, I’ve seen a surge in Midlands filmmakers creating short films, that really are exceptional. I think “One Day” was maybe our most well known films. As a city, there were a few people who did point out that they would’ve liked our city’s first major film not to have stereotypes, with the Black lead actors. In saying that, I am very proud of what Dylan Duffus has gone on to do since the film, after being able to see him in The Intent, at the Birmingham Premier.
4. How is your new film “Cleo’s Choice” different from “Curiosity Calls”? Do you think it’s an elevation from your first film?
I honestly think it is very different, but there are one or two similarities. “Curiosity Calls” was about a young journalist who had a lot of potential, but was obsessed over one case. In “Cleo’s Choice”, the film is about a young actress, orphaned at a very young age who is searching for acceptance. I think “Curiosity Calls” had a lot of people guessing throughout the film and was quite fast paced compared to “Cleo’s Choice”. I will honestly say Cleo is a step up from Curiosity, as there are some extremely strong and emotional performances in this one.
5. Apart from dramas, you have a little interest in a few comic films and shows such as “Games of Thrones” and the third instalment “Captain America: The Civil War”. Any prospects of producing a movie similar to these that will place the Midlands on the map?
“Game of Thrones” is my favourite show of all time and I love films such as: “The Dark Knight”, “Captain America” and “Guardians of The Galaxy”. I won’t give too much away, but I am hoping to work on a short comic-book film soon. The leads who will be in the film are some of my favourite actors in the independent scene right now, so it should be exciting.
6. What’s your take as a filmmaker about the British Film Industry right now? We believe that the whole diversity issue has caused the industry to change its curve.
I like where the industry is currently heading. Diversity can be anything from genre, to the city a film is made in, or (of course) the background of the actor. I see a lot of people complain that urban films only get made and black people are stereotyped in roles. Meanwhile, I’ve seen various films where black people are cast in roles that don’t meet stereotypes, but unfortunately they don’t get financed as much. I think it’s up to directors and audiences to stick to their hearts when these films are made and keep pushing forward.
7. Give us your evaluation on the production, making and release of “Curiosity Calls”. Feel free to reflect on everything from the cast, crew to even the premier, as well as providing prospects as to how you plan to take this film forward.
Before “Curiosity Calls”, I had made two short films. The first was a 45 minute mystery-drama and the second a 20 minute drama. The second film was far from my strongest and after I released it, I really didn’t want to make films any more. I intended to write “Curiosity Calls” as a book, but then fell in love with it and chose to make the film. I was on job seekers at the time, but still paid all the actors in the film. I was blessed to find full-time work during the production of the film, which made me able to finance the premier and pay the actors even more. I was blessed to have Vanessa Donovan, Joanna Gay and Andre-Pierre as the leads in the film. Andre is now one of my closest friends. Joanna is now a two-time Monologue Slam winner who also plays Cleo in my new film. And Vanessa is the lead in the popular online series “Shrink” and will be in a feature film soon with well known British actor – John Hannah.
8. “Deadpool” was one of the most highly grossed movies in the Box Office for its original script (thanks to the screenwriter and director). Despite it being a main superpower, the biggest global movie chain loves to replicate plots and storylines, to the extent that the originality of each film is lost. It’s due to this that independent filmmakers are using this opportunity to either go on Netflix as an alternative, or produce films that have a sense of originality to the audience. What’s your viewpoint on this?
The thing with me is I’ll see an independent film and know that it deserves my time in the cinema. Unfortunately a lot of my friends would rather watch the next Hollywood blockbuster, so sometimes I’m forced to watch the film at home on my laptop. This year I have went out more to theatre productions and independent film screenings, as there’s no point calling myself an independent filmmaker if I’m part of the problem. I think Hollywood do need to trust in independent filmmakers, as you can see with people like Ryan Coogler. Once they get a budget, their vision excels. Also horror has made a massive comeback this year, which I think is down to indie film-makers, as they are the ones who created the genre before Hollywood interfered.
9. Name your top three filmmakers of all time. What inspires you about their work, what makes you select this filmmaker? How has their execution of their films influenced the execution of projects under the Carma Empire?.
Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and JJ Abrams. Chris Nolan is the GOAT. His execution, storytelling and individuality is second to none. He gets on with the film and stays away from media interference and never makes a bad film in my opinion.
David Fincher knows how to set the scene and really put you into a dark world, from “Se7en” to “Social Network” to “Gone Girl”, he is really underrated.
JJ Abrams made one of my favourite shows when he made” Lost”. Also what he managed to do with “Super 8”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Trek” is just too incredible to put into words. He is truly ahead of his time.
10. Who do you think we should watch out for the film industry? Producers, directors and screenwriters are welcomed.
I’m going to shout out both Birmingham and London, because there’s a few I’ve got to name. Daniel Alexander and Sheikh Shanawaz are both two great Birmingham film-makers whose talent will spread across the country. Monet Morgan, Sebastian Thiel, Reddy Kay are really doing it for London. Their talent is immense and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Lastly for actors…well, my amazing Midlands lot: Joanna Gay, Andre Pierre, Joellah Olivia, Georgia Neath, Jacoba Williams, Amana Jones, Ackeem Gibbs, John Hurley and so much more. My London lot: Maia Watkins, Nathan Hector, Joshua Maynard, Leo Watson-Roberts, Elijah Baker, Tola Teriba, Thea Gagic and much more.
11. We understand that as a director, you can’t give out the exclusive details about your new movie. But please do leave us with one word, in terms of what the audience can expect from “Cleo’s Choice”.
DRAMA. Truthfully, I think there’s one or two scenes where people will cry. The film deals with domestic abuse, homelessness, depression and a lot more, so it’s really a personal piece. I remember calling it my passion project because it is exactly that. This cast is my favourite I’ve worked with and I hope I get to work with them again and maybe see them take on these characters again.
12. We want to know – what’s next after the release of the film. Are you thinking of circulating the film festival circuit in the UK?
“Cleo’s Choice” and “Curiosity Calls” both have been entered into the first ever Birmingham Film Festival, that takes place this November. Cleo’s Choice will also have it’s premiere screening on October 7th (this friday), that I hope New Wave District will come to, as again you are my favourite online media hub for all things film related, pushing new talent to a wider audience.