Archives for March 2013


Survival is a universal theme, and as a dramatist, there couldn’t be any more stakes in a man fighting for his life.


DETOUR started out as an experiment in the simplicity of filmmaking.  Why keep it simple, you may ask?  Well, it’s survival instinct.  How does one survive in a town [Hollywood] that is purported to eat its young and go back for seconds?  Some of you may take that statement literally, some may view it as a metaphor for high-concept fare that overshadows independent films and, in doing so, sparks an endless number of sequels; either interpretation is fine.


My writing partner, Dwight, came up with the idea of a man trapped in a basement after his house in the hills gets besieged by a landslide. That was the beginning.  It was something we could afford to do, outside of the Hollywood machine.  I needed to make a film, that’s what I came to LA to do, and I wasn’t going to wait for anyone, or any institution, to give me permission to do just that.  Writing DETOUR, something I could go out there and make myself, gave me all the permission I needed.  With that in mind, there is a lot of me in DETOUR’s Jackson Alder.  Jackson must learn how to survive on his own in a world that’s most certainly not on his side.  He’s got to fight hard against the antagonistic world of unpredictable natural disasters, to persuade the ground to move in his direction, but if he can’t convince the earth to swing its vote, well, he has no choice but to dig his way right through it – even if it means certain death.


One of the driving motivations in making this film was simplicity – minimalism in its storytelling, but not necessarily in its filmmaking – and I felt strongly that the life or death stakes should be more immediate than the original concept would allow.  That lead me to introduce a smaller location into the situation – a smaller location also meant a smaller budget, which as an indie filmmaker was incredibly important to getting the wheels spinning on the project.  I’ve always been drawn to minimalist art and entertainment; specifically, the execution of it, the DIY ethos that so often fuels it, and the aesthetics of the final product.  My first short film involved a man alone on his deathbed, the pinnacle of solitude, which depicts a flashflood of memories linked together by his last word: “F**K.”  I made a film in school that was inspired by Stephen King’s short story “Survivor Type,” which is about a fleeing criminal who goes mad in the desert and eats himself to survive.  The last short I made, SHADOWBOX, which won “Best Short” at the 2008 Shockfest Film Festival in Hollywood, is about a man who watches the film of his own interrogation, and subsequent torture, as a means of coming to grips with the questionable choices he made while at war and putting those choices behind him.  Needless to say, the idea for DETOUR was a brand new world of thrilling isolation that I just knew I had to explore and make into my next film.

One character, one location…and this character could be you.

That was the start of it all.  Early on in the writing process, I brought the idea to one of our producers, Carrie LeGrand, who responded to my impassioned blathering by saying, “one guy in a car…that’s not really a movie, is it?”  Jumping halfway out of my seat, I shot back, “That’s exactly why I want to make it!”

5 years later, we finally have a movie, a movie steeped in the blood, sweat and tears of the cast and crew who risked life and limb to make it a reality.  And when I say life and limb I mean that literally; just ask Neil Hopkins, who played the role of Jackson Alder – he barely made it off the set alive.

DETOUR hits Theaters, iTunes and On Demand on March 29th, 2013.  Check your local listings.

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Los Angeles based artist Jim Robbins and interviewing him about art. Jim is a painter, sculptor, writer, filmmaker, cartoonist, illustrator, musician and actor. To coin him, a “Jack of all trades,” is an understatement.


Jim is all things unique. His recent focus has been paintings and cartoons. His paintings are self-described “metaphysical snapshots” that tickle the eye and stir the imagination beyond it. They often incorporate titles into the works themselves. An example is his haunting deconstructionist self-portrait entitled “I Know What I Look Like.” They’re not just titles, they’re part of the art, and as such, the writing informs the image and the image informs the writing. There is a symbiotic relationship that is skillfully at play in the majority of his pieces. Accordingly, the images that accompany his “titles” are reminiscent of biological building blocks – some works conjure up images of dna strands, of cells, of mitochondrial jigsaw puzzles.

His cartoons are more whimsical in flavor. While his paintings burst with color, Jim extracts the saturation [a trademark in his paintings] from his cartoons and opts for a stark black and white palette. His fine lines and attention to detail are undeniable as he plunges into the darker side of humanity and mines for humor. I, personally, am attracted to humor that gets at the “stuff” we as a culture have a hard time looking at, because it makes it easier to digest, easier to scrutinize. Humor can provide a clearer lens through which to view the negative space in the world; otherwise, without it, we all just might look away. Jim’s cartoons get at the very heart of this…and they’re damn funny.

You can check out the video of our interview here:

Jim will be exhibiting his artwork on Saturday, March 16th, in downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend you check it out –

An Immersive Art Experience
Celebrating the Heart, Mind & Works of Jim Robbins

Full Gallery Viewing at the Live Culture Studio
1519 Essex St Suite 203
Los Angeles CA 90021
Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Preview 6pm
Reception 9pm
Afterparty 12am

Benefiting the DAVID LYNCH FOUNDATION for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.


There will be live musical performances and projections of Jim’s films throughout the evening. He will also be debuting a limited edition book of his cartoons. I believe many of his original works will be for sale.

See you there…it is sure to be an exciting night!


I played in a band for a really long time.  In fact, I like to think that I’ve never stopped playing in that band.  The band was called Guy Smiley, and in later years, Latterday Saints.  I was, and continue to be when I’m back in New York, the drummer for the band.  Unfortunately, though, my current living situation in Los Angeles does not allow for a drum kit to be a part of my daily life.  For the time being, my rather substantial set of drums sits unused in my parents’ basement on the East Coast.

I started playing guitar before I started playing the drums, but I was always a much better drummer.  I was meant to be a drummer.  However, I’ve been gravitating back to the guitar in recent years because of the instrument’s uncanny ability to disappear into a closet when I have to free up space in the living room.  I bought a new amp, a Fender Excelsior, dug up my old stomp boxes from the early 90’s grunge movement and once again indulged my love of distortion via the power chord.  The blanket of noise, however moderate, was once again a comfort to me.  Though, as comfortable as it was, the more I wrapped myself inside of it, the more I felt the essential stitching was missing.  I needed percussion, and percussion was, and is, my thing, so I began the search for minimalist, yet unique, percussive instruments that I could play and store in a small space.  I’ve recently procured a Korg Wavedrum, a Folktek Drum Scape and a Pocket Piano from Critter & Guitari, because why the heck not?  I’m also saving up for a Swarmatron.

I got a little Mackie Mixer and into my Mac it all goes.  The only thing missing: vocals.  And if you’re one of the select few on this planet whose ears have witnessed my attempt at singing, you know I will not be gracing the rest of the world with that skill.

I thought to myself: I made a minimalist movie, I rent a minimalist apartment, I own a minimalist dog, so why not form a minimalist band with my wife – the person who I share my minimalist apartment with.  I thought this was a terrific idea, since she happens to be a wonderful singer.  My wife is a trained songstress, having studied musical theater in college, so the ethos behind 9068dash39 is to build a harmonious skeleton on which to buttress her vocals.

We will be embarking on deconstructions of cover songs that we like.  The first of our sonic experiments is “Hyperballad” by Bjork.

Please check it out and download it on SoundCloud…and keep an ear out for future works!

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