Being a film producer is no easy task; Chicago’s own Jeff Robertson has proven that. Jeff is from the south side of Chicago where film producing is practically null and void. It takes a very passionate person with hard work, determination and an overwhelming work ethic to pull off what he has done. Being in the army prepared him for the rigorous and stressful task at hand.
Jeff is the writer and Producer for his first feature series “Madison & State” which is the story of two brothers that grew up in the Windy City of Chicago, however one ended up on the opposite side of the track; One is a successful executive with a loving family and growing career, the other is a drug lord dead set on conquering his home town. This movie is full of action, suspense and drama. Check out the footage and our exclusive interview with Jeff Robertson.
EH411- When casting for a film, is there anything you wouldn’t ask an actor or actress to do to fulfill a specific role?
J. Robertson- Yes, I don’t do nudes…I feel it is not necessary. I make provocative films and I feel the talent of a director is to give the audience a look of sexuality and passion without being low brow. I challenge myself in that area, if I ever do a nude scene it will be a flash or a quick frontal, but never gratuitous…I doubt if I ever do though.
EH411- What was it that inspired you to get in the art of Film directing/ producing?
J. Robertson- I have always been a movie buff, I have been watching movies since I was seven. I was always a bit of a dreamer, and the idea of telling a story to spark emotions in my audience has always been interesting to me. I have many stories to tell and I hope God will allow me to accomplish that.
EH411- When choosing the characters for your independent film Madison & State, what unique characteristic did you look for during the selection process for each individual?
J. Robertson– I believe the three most provocative characters in this project are Derrick, Nate, and Dana. I looked for basic talent, the ability to transform into a character. Lamar Barnes, Chill Oliver and Gigi Marie really came with it. They were amazing talents that I enjoyed working with. Professionalism and attention to detail are also vital traits I look for in actors also.
EH411- Producing independent films can be costly; how do you finance your movies and how do you prevent shooting materials that won’t end up in the film?
J. Robertson– Funding a film is a challenge even on the Hollywood level I hear, (Laughter) but here in Chicago it is especially challenging. Chicago is not set up for industry as it pertains to movies…there just aren’t investors lying around waiting to invest in movie projects, however there are many businesses that are looking for advertisement…that is the angle I use. If you can show businesses that you can increase their exposure, bottom line and ROI they will listen.
EH411- Name some of your greatest Influences and which of these masters have influenced you the most?
J. Robertson– As a child growing up my favorite writers were Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas; these men are icons in my opinion. As I got older I looked to the filmmakers like Spike Lee, F Gary Gray and my all-time favorites Marty Scorsese, and the incomparable Francis Ford Coppola. These all are giants in the industry, I pick up much from every one as I study their work…their ability to tell a story are remarkable. But if I had to choose one that influenced me the most it would be Coppola.
EH411- Where does your creative process come from when thinking of that next script to write; is it characterized off of real life situations or is it all fictional?
J. Robertson- It’s a bit of both, as I said I am a bit of a dreamer. There is much I want to do in the way of film here in Chicago; stories I want to tell. I have a very active imagination (as most writers I guess) and God has given me the ability and talent to put those imaginations to paper. I owe all of my creative process to God, cuz it all comes from him, to my mind, to paper.
EH411- We know you graduated from Malcolm X College, Did you study film production there or were you self taught?
J. Robertson- I studied Radiology at Malcolm X…I am a self taught writer and filmmaker, I thought I had to go to school until I told a local filmmaker here in Chicago my desires and he said “study your a** off, learn the craft and you can make it happen without advanced study” I did that and here I am.
EH411- If you had a multi-million dollar investor standing in front of you right now willing to invest in you production, what would be your best-selling point to pitch Madison & State?
J. Robertson- Wow, I can’t even imagine a situation like that, but what I would say is Madison and State is a story of the human heart, a provocative story about how a person through a set of unfortunate circumstances can become something they never set out to be. It also shows that there are many facets to black life that millions of people would love to experience. It is a captivating story that will inspire, educate, and entertain.
EH411- In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of being in the Film Production business?
J. Robertson- The most challenging aspect for me is again attaining funding. It takes a while to get companies and corporations to trust and invest in your projects…once they do it’s all gravy from there to me.
EH411- What professional advice would you give to anyone trying to break in the Film Production business?
J. Robertson- Advice I would give would be to actually love what you do…if you don’t love this business you won’t last long in it. I would tell anyone if you’re doing it as a hobby let it go, this is a business that takes patience, talent, and professionalism. Also I would advise them to not forget the aspect of time and chance.
EH411- Are you a full-time Film Producer or do you produce during the times that you are not working a full-time job elsewhere?
J. Robertson- I am not full-time as of yet, I certainly would like to be though.
EH411- What Hollywood actor/ actress would you be most
J. Robertson- Meryl Streep, Don Cheadle and Tom Hanks, for obvious reasons; (Laughter).
EH411- What would be the most valuable lesson you learned as an independent Film Producer?
J. Robertson- I don’t know the answer to that question yet, (Laughter) l but this business teaches you .(Laughter)
EH411- If you were told you couldn’t produce another film and this was your last shot at producing a film, what would that film be about and why?
J. Robertson- My dream project would be a film about Martin Luther King…there hasn’t been one on the big screen. There was one done for television (Paul Winfield) but not a Hollywood production I hope and pray God is saving that project for me. (Laughter)
EH411- Are you involved in community service, mentoring or teaching young people about film production, writing or acting?
J. Robertson- Not as of yet, getting started and getting known in Chicago takes up enormous time, money, and ability. Once I am known I plan to do much in that area though.
EH411- Tell us why people should go out and support your new film “Madison and State, Where can they find it and how would potential investors get in touch with you?
J. Robertson- As I said Madison and State is a great story about two black men and their struggles in family, love, and the human heart. If given a chance I know this project will inspire many…especially here in Chicago. The show can be found on my website Jrobproduction.net or on YouTube under Madison and State Episode one. Investors can reach me by email.
Also Check out Jeff Robertson’s published books On Amazon