Rob Hawk , Film Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Editor, Music Producer , and Songwriter. Born and raised in the NewJersey area. He ventured into the entertainment industry as a break dancer and a skateboarder. Former member of all boy group entitled “Dfe” in 1990’s. Rob’s music career as a artist and producer would soon skyrocket in the following years. In the year 2005 he began his interest in the film industry and started to put his music production on the back-burner to pursue the art of writing and directing films. Since, he has authored countless scripts all available as short & feature films.
Matthew Toffolo: How does a professional skateboarder and breakdancer make the transition to becoming a filmmaker?
Rob Hawk: I always had a passion for the arts and entertaining. Skateboarding and breakdancing was something that i would do at the local shopping centers during the days with my friends. It was my way of saying hey “look at me” and look what i can do. Even as a breakdancer or skateboarder i wanted to take it to a level that would make people say “wow” that’s really unique what that kid can do. So i would study ways to standout from the rest and make a style of my own. I suppose the road to filmmaking came from the music i would listen to as a skateboarder and dancer. Run Dmc, NWA, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and such. There was a time i even got into the punk rock scene and had a mohawk, and a lot of strange hair styles. I experienced with many cultures growing up trying to find myself and be as creative and different as possible. I ventured into music production and started my own boy band in high school. From that point on, i began traveling the world in the years to come working with great names in music. It was then i started filming. Music Videos became a everyday thing for me. Make song, shoot a video. I got so obsessed with the fact of creating a song, and bringing it to life through video. It got to the point where it just wasn’t enough. I wanted a longer story. I wanted to shoot longer videos than just 3 minutes. So i wrote my first screenplay and jumped in. Needless to say, the film flopped, but the experience was what told me this is where i want to be. I’m going to keep shooting and directing for the rest of my life. I found my true passion.
Matthew: What are the similarities between the art of breakdancing and the art of filmmaking?
Rob: They are both art. They both tell a story to your audience. It’s up to the entertainer to provide the emotion / visual to the viewer.
Matthew: You have been a very busy guy – out of all the project you’ve directed in the last 10 years, what film are you most proud of?
Rob: The film i am most proud of is the movie i just finished entitled “COLD” starring UFC fighter Felice Herring. Prior to that i did FIGHT VALLEY with Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg. However, i don’t feel that i was able to give my full ability on Fight Valley due to a number of circumstances, but the film is completed and getting world-wide attention so i can’t complain. I just wish i could go back and re-do it all over again. Back to the movie “Cold”. This film came together almost flawless. It’s my first film where everything from the cinematography, make up, acting, and editing is on point. The cast and crew gave 200% . I can finally say i made a “Movie” . I’m currently seeking distribution for Cold and we hope to have it released alongside Fight Valley this summer.
Matthew:What is next for you? What are you working on right now?
Rob: Right now i am getting ready to finish up a film entitled “TAKE 2” starring Tyler Mane (Michael Myers from Halloween) and UFC fighter Jessica “Evil” Eye. It’s a horror film . After that i have 3 more films scheduled this year. CON – 8 which can be compared to CON-AIR , SADDLE SIX which can be compared to “Young Guns”, and EAGLE ONE which can be compared to TOP GUN. These will be bigger budget films featuring everything from Fighter Jets, to cow girls and horses. I’m hitting an area finally in my career to do films on a bigger budget and everyone should expect to see at least 3 releases this year via theatrical , netflix, redbox etc…
Matthew: Where and how did you learn filmmaking?
Rob: I jumped in. Never took a class in my life. I bought a camera, and i watched movies to learn angles and lighting for different emotions. I would shoot and run to the computer and edit. I probably shot over 40 short films, all of which were to be considered a learning process with no intent to even put them in festivals. They paved my way to creating full features now the last 2 years. Today, with YOUTUBE so popular i still lean on “Film Riot” tutorials and such to hone my craft. With film, its always evolving. A scene can be shot a million different ways. I try to get creative as possible and shine through now with my own twist of cinematography, directing and editing.
Matthew: What are the key qualities you need to make a great music video?
Rob: Well it helps to have a great song. The song is what is going to grab your viewer immediately. If you lack a “Hit” song than certainly the more creative you can get in your video may pull them into it visually in disregards to the song. You also want to try and shoot in areas and lighting that will reflect the mood of your song. Scout your locations according to your song. If it’s a love song, you’d probably want a more intimate setting like a beach at sunset or possibly even a empty park setting or woods. If your going for a more upbeat pop or rap style song then you probably would want more of a urban feel such as street corners, abandoned warehouses, fancy cars and such. Don’t forget, lighting is an emotion as well. When singing those sweet words from your heart, you will have a bigger impact in front of a fireplace rather than leaning on the hood of a car.
Matthew: You’ve a very hands on filmmaker, as you’ve wrote, directed, produced, DP’d many of your films. What are the advantages of this process?
Rob: The benefit of wearing many hats has a lot of benefits. I am fortunate enough to know how to write, shoot, and edit. When doing projects on a smaller budget it certainly can eliminate a lot of expenses if you have the expertise to do it yourself. The question is, do i prefer to do it myself. Yes, and No. It’s a lot of work. I wrote the Cold film, i casted it, i directed it, i got the locations, i directed it, i edited it, and so on. The end result of it is simply amazing. I got exactly what i wanted in that picture. However, with Fight Valley, i agreed to let the distribution edit it and it’s hard to allow someone else to take control of your vision. You just feel like you’re not getting what you want and if only you could just edit it yourself. At the same time, it helps because i was able to move on to another film while the editing was being handled. It’s a double edge sword. I prefer to write it, direct it, shoot it and edit it if i had to choose. But sometimes, ya gotta let it go =(
Matthew:What is your process when directing actors?
Rob: My process is simple. Know your lines. Don’t stand around on set mingling and joking around. Go in a corner, get yourself in character, and be ready for action. I work just like Michael Bay. I hate even taking a break. I film fast. Anyone on my sets will tell you, i can shoot a feature in just a few days. I try to get a crew and cast who has the passion and drive that i do. Can you eat and shoot at the same time? Your hired !
Matthew: What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most in your life?
Rob: I watched The Outsiders, and TOP GUN more than anything. However, my favorite TV show will always be “The King Of Queens”.
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.