Filmmaker and executive producer Robert Michael chatted about his dogsledding documentary “Heartprints in the Snow” on Apple TV+.
He also opened up about the SAG-AFTRA strike, the lesson learned from filmmaking, and the future of AI on the entertainment business.
‘Heartprints in the Snow’
“I am thrilled that Apple TV has taken on our documentary,” he exclaimed. “When we created the film, my sole purpose was to get this in as many households as possible to help change the perception of dogsledding – that most recreational mushers run on love, not commercial greed or selfish interests.”
“With Apple TV we will have the opportunity to expand our mission to a lot more people and we are very excited,” he added.
An Emmy-nominated documentary
The documentary was nominated for an Emmy Award for “Cultural Documentary.” “It feels great that my first feature length venture received an Emmy nomination in Michigan for Outstanding Cultural Documentary,” he said.
“Just knowing that of all the cultural films reviewed/voted on by NATAS ours was selected is an enormous feat. It’s also very special because of the subject matter – that a film made about a sport my family was heavily involved with was seen as Emmy-worthy,” he added.
Robert Michael’s lessons learned from filmmaking
When asked what this documentary taught him about himself, he responded, “This film taught me to trust myself when it comes to making films. There are so many ‘rules’ in film-making, and I’m learning that in order to preserve it as an art form, we have to be willing to create a film in our own way – and hope it is well received.”
“I broke almost every rule – no budget, no editor, no pre production, did everything as far as filming/sound/creating myself – and we got an Emmy nomination. If you make a story with your heart, let it guide you through the entire process and it wont let you down,” he said.
Working with Diana Maiocco as executive producer
On working with filmmaker Diana Maiocco as executive producer, he said, “Diana and I have worked together for a few years and we met on a previous project (she as a producer, myself as an actor) that was poorly run. I knew that Diana was someone I could trust, was caring, and matched my energy so I’m glad that out of that bad experience I found the diamond in the rough.”
“Diana was also a producer of Love, Gilda that was featured on CNN Films and also Tribeca, and she produced almost every film I’ve created to date. She is known from her Instagram as well and she worked a lot on the DVD releases of ‘Moonlighting.’ Since I wear many hats, it can get stressful, and I can always count on Diana to be a voice of reason to keep me level headed. She cares a lot about the projects she’s involved with, and that’s the level of care that I admire.”
On his plans for the future, he shared, “The future is looking bright! Our half-hour comedy series Girl Chill is now publicly on YouTube after leaving Prime so it’s widely available, our feature film ‘Oblivious’ starring Vanessa Lauren Gamble, myself, Naomi Grossman, Daniel Hall, and Nikki Blonsky is entering the distribution phase (working out the interim SAG agreements).”
“We are currently discussing another documentary to start this fall. I have a few acting gigs slated as well so it’s looking like a great fall and winter,” he added.
On the current SAG-AFTRA strike, he said, “It is going strong. SAG-AFTRA strong. I’m the proof in the pudding for the AMPTP. If I can make a fair deal being a low budget independent producer/creator, then the mega wealthy corporates can pay a fair share.”
“We make the content, we are the players, we write the scripts, we do the creative work. We deserve our share,” he underscored.
AI on the entertainment industry
On the future of AI on the entertainment business, he said, “AI could decimate our industry. It’s alarming, but that’s why we are striking. When you cut corners and find a cheaper way of doing things, it never ends up in your favor.”
Michael continued, “Think of it like this – over a century ago a group of wealthy decision makers decided they could cut corners on the construction of Titanic – and we all know how that turned out. Similarly, if this is the future the studios want, may they go down with the ship.”
Closing thoughts on the dogsledding documentary
“The number one thing is love your animals like your family,” he said. “You’ll never get your experiences back so cherish them while you can and find experiences that you can enjoy together – it makes for an incredible bond.”
“We should be releasing the film in a few weeks to Apple Tv. We have other exciting news to share about the film in the coming weeks,” he concluded.
To learn more about “Heartprints in the Snow,” follow the documentary on Instagram.
For more information on Robert Michael, follow him on Instagram.