A Renaissance man of the truest form, Bobby B. Grubic has done almost everything behind the camera. He’s directed and produced commercial productions, documentaries, biographies, music videos and film projects. His latest directorial project “Final Stop” was featured at Film de Cannes – The Short Corner in 2016 and he has also produced videos and virtual reality experience for video games, including Final Fantast XV, Far Cry Primal, and The Rise of Tomb Raider. He is a multi-regional Emmy Award Winner, and recipient of numerous production and marketing awards.
Looking at his portfolio of shorts, he has worked as nearly every member of the film crew – and sometimes several of them at once – in addition to directing, producing, and editing his projects. We wanted to talk to him and learn more about his craft, his philosophy, and the lessons he’s learned during his career.
You have worked as essentially every member of a film crew at some point in your career. How do you see yourself professionally?
I’m an artist, director and producer; I like to to get dirty and be hands on. I think to be a better director or producer you need to know the ins and outs of the domain you are involved in and be knowledgeable of the tools and processes that are used, so you can take full advantage of it and be able to work outside of the box once you understand the framework.
Can you tell us more about your background and your decision to become a filmmaker?
My early career as Creative Director and Producer began as an in-house marketing professional for several large US corporations. At that time, I realized how much I like to move and engage the audience through short form storytelling and commercials. The desire to tell longer stories and express myself through filmmaking brought me to Los Angeles, where I directed my first short “Counter Play”. In 2011, shortly after attending The Professional Program in Producing at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, I finally immersed myself into storytelling and started pursuing my filmmaking career.
Do you miss doing the other work when you have fewer tasks to do?
It depends on the project, but as we know in production, teamwork is something that gets us smoothly from point A to B and eventually to successful completion. But as I said before, understanding and being able to wear multiple hats makes you more creative even if you are only executing one or two tasks on a given project.
You directed and edited “Fit to Be Tied” as well as “The Parting Shot”. How was that different than just editing on “Counter Play”? Was one project more satisfying than the other because of that? Does it change the way you watch the film now that it’s been released?
All three of those projects were mini assignments – or should I say training – for my ultimate goal of directing and/or producing a feature film. As you can see, when you watch any one of them, I was exploring different things in each of those short films and I was comfortable within the learning environment. As a filmmaker, you always see your own films and projects with a more critical eye and ear (yes sound is very important to me) as you can always improve on something. Those projects were very important to me as I was learning some basic storytelling techniques as both director and as editor.
What convinced you to use VEGAS Pro as your video editing program?
VEGAS was way ahead of everyone else 5 years ago with real time editing and being able to just drag and drop all different types of files and formats for either audio or video. Also, powerful audio editing incorporated with video editing was an awesome one stop process for not needing to leave the program at all as both your video edit, color, effects and the sound mix can be done on your timeline in VEGAS.
Are there any standout feature that made VEGAS Pro your choice?
Aside from what I already said, VEGAS Pro is still my traveling on-the-go studio on my MacBook Pro laptop. I can virtually do anything wherever I am and master video and sound as if I’m in a studio and I can export it into any audio video format. Priceless … Also, VEGAS Pro was going beyond 4k and accepting larger footage, which was always a plus with RED 5k footage that I recently used in my “Final Stop” short film project. VEGAS Pro gives me an incredibly fast and cost-effective solution that I can have with me on my laptop for color correction and footage matching and an additional film effect that makes any on-the-go and lower budget project look like a high budget production.
Which is the most challenging project you’ve worked on and why? Which was the most enjoyable? What did you learn from it?
I work well under pressure so “challenging” inspires me to make seemingly tough projects as good as possible. That said, I enjoy being on the set and making things happen, to inspire and be inspired by every project that has its challenges, highs and lows. The most important thing that I learn from any of them is to be ready for the unknown and unexpected, and to do your homework in pre-production so your production and post production go more smoothly.
You took “Final Stop” to the Cannes Film Festival 2016. What was it like to take your work to such a renowned festival?
It was really great to be at the Cannes Short Corner last year and to be at the biggest movie carnival in Europe and share your work with the world. But it is also great to get feedback and see how others see your work and if you moved anyone. That is very important and rewarding to me. I hope I will get into the official competition premiere circle with my future projects.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
I have several feature projects on the burner at this time – some as director and some as creative producer. Completing my first feature is the next step in the evolution of my career. On that path, I’m thankful to have many accomplished individuals and mentors. I’m collaborating on some of the projects with a very talented and seasoned writer, Phil Shelby (Survivor, Mechanic: Resurrection) on the scripted side and with the awesome executive producer Todd Iorio at Los Angeles-based advertising agency and production house Platform.la on the advertising side.
Do you plan to continue working so comprehensively (i.e., directing, producing, editing, etc.) on future projects? Will you continue to edit your own footage?
On the big projects, there is too much work for one person to do it all and to be able to produce a project that can compete with top dogs. You need a team that will help you to get there. Also, every high calibre creative professional will bring you new perspective, angle, and ideas to your project that you couldn’t see yourself if you were so deeply involved. It is always good to step back and see the big picture. I love telling the story either as Producer, Director, or Editor. I would always utilize my editor skills whenever I could as retelling the story on the timeline is as special as canning the footage on the set … It is like going to the forest and finding a perfect tree, from which you will make a beautiful wooden chair. Everything is important in the process and it is very important to find the right tree as well as finish the chair the right way so that all the beauty of the tree stands out, but also in harmony with your chair design. I think Producing, Directing, and Editing have a similar impact in making visually pleasing and engaging projects.
To more directly answer your question, I recently produced, directed, shot, and edited a low budget music video for a very cool European jazz duo Bow vs. Plectrum, utilizing the latest VEGAS Pro 14 tools and plugins that helped me make this project look and sound amazing, considering the time and budget constraints… So I guess the final answer is yes, I would still venture into one man shows whenever the opportunity presents itself as it is fun from time to time to be able to do everything.We would like to thank Bobby B. Grubic for taking the time to answer our questions and share his knowledge and experience with us. To find more information on Grubic, as well as find trailers for his prior projects, you can visit the Artonix Studios website.