Robert Machoian - The Strength of Family Relationships Sofia Piven interviewed the American filmmaker Robert Machoian whose film The Minors was selected for this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Home Nieuws & Inspiratie

Robert Machoian - The Strength of Family Relationships

Sofia Piven interviewed the American filmmaker Robert Machoian whose film The Minors was selected for this year's Sundance Film Festival.

In anticipation of the forthcoming summer and new festivals, of course we would like to keep remembering the most memorable and award-winning directors of Sundance Film Festival 2019. Today the main hero of our article is the American filmmaker Robert Machoian. For CineSud Magazine he talks about his passion for directing, his cooperation with Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, successful short films and webseries and the impact of living in a small town on his oeuvre.

“I grew up playing in music bands and when I can get someone to join my film band, I do!”

11 juni 2019

The impact of living in a small town

Robert Machoian was born in King City, California, USA. This fact of his biography has significantly influenced his perception of life, world and filmmaking particularly. The director says: “I think small town life forever leaves a mark on a person. The world surrounding you is small. Usually you know almost all people inhabiting this area and those who you are not familiar with are only considered to be frightening strangers. You just don’t know what to expect from them, they interfere with your small, already well-known world.” Such a town dictates its own rules. People there always care for one another no matter what happens. This is a main reason why Robert Machoian prefers to tell stories about families or small communities. He wants to transmit this cosy and friendly atmosphere of his home into his films.

About the involvement in the filmmaking process

Unlike other filmmakers, Robert has not been dreaming of becoming a director since his childhood. It was just a spontaneous decision that he made as an adult. The American filmmaker tells CineSud Magazine that he sees himself as a filmmaker, not just a director, as he knows the whole process of the production and is involved in it from the beginning to the very end. Of course, Robert uses the help of some other specialists. Still, he is always involved in every part of his project. He comments: “I am currently working on a feature film and I start to realize that editing a full-length movie is absolutely different from editing short films. It is so laborious in my point of view! Now I am considering to only do the directing in my next feature films.”

Robert’s background

Robert Machoian attended California State University Monterey Bay, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in filmmaking. The American filmmaker tells that it is quite a small educational institution, therefore he got specific attention and support from the faculty throughout all his study. Cinematography used to be Robert’s favorite subject, he could spend the whole day capturing interesting moments and enjoying the intertwining of exceptional images. The most valuable experience the filmmaker gained during these years of studying was the establishment of a variety of new contacts. He remembers: “At Monterey I met Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, my partner and co-worker with whom I have been making films over the past ten years and I hope we keep it up! I think I went to university just to find him.”

Despite the fact that Robert Machoian has collaborated with other directors as well, he still prefers to work with Rodrigo. The process of their cooperation can be described like this: One of them comes up with an idea, then they push each other to develop it to a point at which it can be embodied on the screen. In other words, they are motivating each other in order to achieve the best result possible. Robert is fond of collaborations. He comments: “I grew up playing in music bands and when I can get someone to join my film band, I do!”

Robert says that his favorite films among his productions are always those which he is currently working on. He is trying to grow and get better, therefore he considers each new film to be better than the previous one.

Continue studying

Studying at California State University Monterey Bay was not enough for Robert Machoian. Therefore, he also got a Master’s degree of Fine Arts at the University of California, Davis. The American filmmaker says: “There were a few reasons why I decided to enter UC Davis. Firstly, I needed more time to study. Undergraduate school prepares you to understand the tools which are used in filmmaking, while graduate school gives you an opportunity to start exploring how to control these tools and find your own way to express yourself with their help.” Among the other reasons Robert mentions the fact that UC Davis has amazing mentors who are always willing to help, give their piece of advice and inspire their students. Robert needed these impulses. It was extremely important for him to do some work and then be able to talk about it with the mentors. It was an amazing experience for the filmmaker which he now makes use of in his projects.

The American Nobodies

The American Nobodies is a web series produced by Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck in response to celebrities in the media space that have no talent or skill. Their fame either just comes from their wealth or from creating an eccentric personality. Therefore, Robert wanted to highlight ordinary people who are considered amazing by others as an idea to show that each person in the world is talented and marvelous. There are 53 episodes in total. The American filmmaker says: “All the people who we made these short documentaries about were recommended to us. For example, we were asking people whether they knew anyone amazing, and if they said yes, we asked them if they’d let us do a documentary on them.” Each person in The American Nobodies series was recommended to Robert and Rodrigo because someone believed that they are astonishing and what the filmmakers have discovered is that they really are!

Watch it!

It is possible to watch The American Nobodies series here.

The Minors

Robert Machoian likes to touch the topic of family relationships in his films. On top of that, he prefers to work with his three kids and his father in most of his projects. The Minors is not the first time and the filmmaker believes it won’t be the last. The film reveals the grandfather’s love for his grandsons and visa versa. Robert comments: “My kids and my father are artists. They like participating in my work. We even discuss the ideas with each other and then I start writing a script which will perfectly suit them.” The filmmaker is extremely satisfied with the result of The Minors. He did his best in order to capture the intimacy of the family relationships. In his point of view, such connections cannot be played even by professional actors, so he is proud to show such sincere emotions on the screen. Robert says that the acting of his family inspires him.

Festival experience

Robert Machoian does not know exactly what made the Jury of Sundance Film Festival 2019 select The Minors and give the filmmaker a Special Jury Award for Directing. Nevertheless, he is of course proud and happy to have received the award. According to Robert, there were also a lot of other amazing films at Sundance. He was present during the screenings of many of them. He says: “Do I believe that my film deserved to win? Yes, I do. It’s a great movie. It captures a large number of emotional aspects of living. However, if I hadn’t won, I am sure I would have admired the film that had.”

In Robert’s opinion, Sundance Film Festival is an amazing event that allows people to show their work in front of a large audience that appreciates good films of high-quality. According to him, it is the best place to show your movie in the United States, so he wishes that all of his next films will be screened there as well. The filmmaker remembers: “I have been to many festivals all over the world and my favorite festivals are those that care about filmmakers, that help filmmakers reach the festivals and care for them while they are there. It’s weird to me that there are festivals that celebrate the films while leaving its filmmakers at home who are not being able to share their experience and introduce their work.”

Want to find out more about Robert?

In order to find out some more information about Robert Machoian, visit his own website here.

Over de auteur: Sofia Piven

Sofia Piven is currently studying Journalism and International Relations at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. She has always been interested in writing articles and after finishing school and entering the university she wrote for local newspapers and magazines. Since January 2018 she regularly writes articles for CineSud magazine.

0 Reacties

Reageren is alleen mogelijk wanneer je bent ingelogd met een CineSud Account. Log in of maak gratis een account aan.