Actor Shaun A.Robinson knows how tough it is to get acting work — and he wants the world to know just how rough a profession it is. With his upcoming documentary “That’s Not a Knife”, Robinson speaks to many actors — some who have had great success and others that are still chasing it — about the ups and downs they’ve experienced along the way in the hope to educate.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Did you attend acting school?
Shaun A. Robinson (SAR): Yes, I studied under Richard Cornally and Gabriella Maselli at Sydney Drama School in 2015.
MM: And what about when you decided to tackle filmmaking, did that require schooling?
SAR: A lot of people recommend you take classes for this and classes for that, and there are techniques involved in making films but in this day and age with technology, almost anyone can be a filmmaker, all it takes is a phone a camera and a good script. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better or worse than someone who has had training in filmmaking, but, to answer your question, no I didn’t do any formal training in terms of filmmaking.
MM: Was That’s Not a Knife born out of the need to inform others that your profession isn’t as glamorous as people make out?
SAR: Yes and no, that had something to do with it but in late 2016 and I was having trouble figuring out what to do with myself, a case of itchy feet really as I wasn’t getting any acting jobs and I felt a bit hopeless, the only thing that seemed to really make sense was to go to the United States, to Hollywood, to follow in the footsteps of one of my idols, Paul Hogan. The only problem was, I had no idea how to do it. I tried looking up information online but nothing really made any sense to me, felt like I was going round in circles trying to find the information I was looking for so I decided to ask some of my other actor friends, see what they had done and how they had gone about making the move to the States. Every single one had a different story or opinion on the right way of doing it, this was the moment I realised that I would have to find my own way of making the move, of following my dream. The idea to film it came about because I just thought if I can do it, anyone can do it, and I could at least show them how I achieved it and maybe even inspire others like me who are struggling to follow their dreams.
MM: What’s the biggest misconception about being an actor?
SAR: That all actors are rich, when in actual fact, approximately 90% of actors are unemployed and often working two or three jobs to survive.
MM: Is it harder to get work in Australia than it is in America?
SAR: If we’re excluding the difficulties surrounding the attainment of work visas, then there is a substantially larger amount of opportunities in America for actors than there is in Australia. Los Angeles is a hub, Australia doesn’t really have that, so by sheer numbers alone, the amount of content being created in the US vastly outweighs that of Australia, naturally making it harder.
MM: Why were Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Guy Pearce so fortunate to crack the big time? What did they do or know that helped them achieve success in the US?
SAR: That’s a question I would love to ask them myself! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get in contact with them to arrange interviews but perhaps they could hit me up if they’re reading this article.
MM: Have you yourself tried to crack the US?
SAR: Yes, I have, still working on it actually. I’m creating my own pathway and hopefully the documentary will help with that. I’m working hard, owning every mistake I make, every time I fall over or have a setback, I get back up, dust myself, and have another crack at it.
MM: What kind of parts have you gone up for?
SAR: I’ve gone for a variety of roles such as a Teacher, Police Officer, Serial Killer, Psychopathic Brother, Bridge Hero, even a drug induced moron with the brain capacity of a meat pie. I’ve also been the aggressor, the racist or rapist, you know, all the nice roles.
MM: How do you handle rejection?
SAR: I didn’t to begin with, it’s a very hard emotion to wrap your head around, it often makes you feel that you’re simply not good enough. A lot of actor’s fear that rejection but the fact of the matter is, if you got the audition, that’s already half the battle and once you understand that, it makes it a little bit easier. You’ll still kick yourself from time to time and feel sour about the process but you just have to get on with it.
MM: Is rejection one of the topics you talk about with interviewees in ‘’That’s Not a Knife’’?
SAR: Rejection is definitely one of the topics I discuss with a lot of my interviewees in the documentary, it can be one of those things that can break a lot of people in this industry so it’s important to have a platform for it.
MM: What plans do you have for it? Where do you think it will screen?
SAR: My Producer, Lucinda Bruce (Lady of the Light Productions) came on board last year and has helped me steer the documentary towards our final destination of distribution. We’re aiming for a Festival release later on in the year with the hopes of that leading to a Theatrical and VOD release in the US, with an eventual showing on an Australian Television Network.
MM: Where do you hope to be in ten years, sir?
SAR: I’d love to be a household name, a bit like Paul Hogan, the inspiration for all of this. I see myself doing a lot more television shows and movies both in Los Angeles and Australia; but who knows. I’m just enjoying the journey regardless of where it ends, what I do know is that I’ll be busting my ass to become one of Australia’s biggest film exports for as long as it takes.
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