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  • Writer's pictureAfter Hour Film Festival

Robin Phillips Goes an Extra Mile Behind the Name Shakespeare.

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Robin Phillips shines bright through out the charming, investigative documentary on Shakespeare which teaches, entertains and asks pertinent questions.

"Behind the Name SHAKESPEARE: Power, Lust, Scorn & Scandal" - Written, directed, acted and produced by Robin Phillips is necessarily and single-handedly driven by her efforts.

We chatted up with Robin Phillips about her experience as a "world-citizen" and views on art.

After Hour : You have lived in multiple cities, rather countries, how do you think this experience shaped you as an individual and an artist?

Robin : What a good question! I like to consider myself what the French call ‘a citizen of the world; -- a "Citoyenne du Monde," having lived in 11 cities in 7 different countries. This opens you up to other perspectives, and ways of thinking.

Everyone knows that wonderful feeling when you are visiting a new city, sitting in the back of a taxi, that breathless excitement you feel as your eyes take in every detail of this new city as it passes by. Every part of you is alert to the joy of this exploration. Well, I've experienced those feelings since I was ten years old and that excitement has become a habit as an artist. The excitement of seeing the world in a new way. Seeing from a perspective never thought of before.

After Hour : As a creative person you wear many hats - Performer, Writer & Producer. Which One do you like the best?

Robin : Gosh, I think they are all intertwined. Perhaps because it's tough to make a living in each field by itself. You do a little bit of this, improve, develop your skills, then when that vein of work dries up for a while, you move to another vein. It gives you a versatility, one that I’m finding is coming in handy as a filmmaker.

After Hour : From journalism to visual art - how was the journey?

Robin : For years I had produced successful one-woman stage shows before I became a journalist. In the beginning, my stage shows had a bit of a superficial Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney feel, “I know, let’s put on a show” on stage. A videographer would come in and film the show and I would go to his studio and work with him, co-editing the final version and a shorter version for promotion. So I had that co-editing experience.

After I became a journalist, I developed my research skills which you can see in the film. Storytelling combined with research has become my signature. About my two character, two-act, two hour musical play about Agatha Christie, the reviewer said, “There is no show in town remotely like “Agatha SINGS”… it tells its fascinating story with power and elegance.”

I used those same skills to transform what was a stage show onto the screen, but for some reason, my first instinct was to use skills from the four year period which I spent as a print journalist/graphic artist for the look of the film. So, in the beginning, the first iteration of this film looked more like a magazine layout on the big screen, interspersed with my narrations, rather than a real film. The graphics from Alamy were hauntingly beautiful but static.

But I had also had experience as a TV reporter. I knew about “b-roll.” I smacked myself on the forehead. I needed moving images – b-roll! That’s what’s missing! So, I purchased b-roll and music from Pond5 and transformed my stage show into a real film!

After Hour : Would you like to share any interesting story from the sets?

Robin : The transformation from a magazine format to a real film was magical. I contacted various online providers and over the next two years, my co-editor, Art Harman, and I began layering in moving images and the music. By far the most pleasurable part of transforming the film was adding the music. Art would tease me, “I think you’ve got something going on with that Pond5 guy.”

He was referring to my online music, sound-effects, b-roll provider. Each new bit of music we slid into a scene was almost mystical in the way it fit the moving images on the screen.

My years as singer/musician, actor/playwright and graphic artist were like gifts now, perfect for this project. I was able to direct every nuance, every bit of timing, every gesture, every image—then sync these with music in each scene. It felt almost magical.

As I continued researching, I would make exciting new discoveries that I had to include. I restructured the film at least five times, filming,

editing, ten-hour days, week after week, and just the two of us transformed that little stage-show into my first award-winning feature film.

My vision was to create a definitive telling of the story of the two authorship candidates, by showing the stunning contrasts between their lives. Clever, contrasting “ages boxes” float through the documentary, giving the viewer a new, common sense understanding of the two candidates’ relationship to the events of the day, and to the Queen --in a way they may never have imagined before.

After Hour : What are your upcoming projects and how do they excite you?

Robin : I’ve already begun working on bringing Shakespeares’ Sonnets to life. The working title? “Behind the SHAKESPEARE Sonnets: a personal diary”.

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