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Robert Michael talks about his new film ‘Oblivious’

Actor and filmmaker Robert Michael chatted about his new film “Oblivious.”

Vanessa Lauren Gamble and Robert Michael
Vanessa Lauren Gamble and Robert Michael. Photo Courtesy of 'Oblivious'
Vanessa Lauren Gamble and Robert Michael. Photo Courtesy of 'Oblivious'

Actor and filmmaker Robert Michael chatted about his new film “Oblivious.”

The movie stars Robert Michael, Naomi Grossman, Vanessa Lauren Gamble, Daniel Hall, and Nikki Blonsky as “The Voice.”

The concept of ‘Oblivious’

On his idea for his new movie, he said, “The paranormal has always fascinated me since I was younger, and I wanted to create a film that encapsulates the “unknown” without making it a traditional horror film. Although I’ve primarily created and worked on various TV series and most recently an Emmy nominated documentary, I’ve always wanted to make a full length feature and to be successful I knew it had to be focused on what interests me the most.”

“I sat down with my fellow producer Diana Maiocco and we decided to just go full steam ahead and get to work. I created this concept and in under a month we were already setting shoot dates! The film stars Naomi Grossman as Willow, Robert Michael as Collin, Daniel Hall as Johnny, Vanessa Lauren Gamble as Claire, Paul Sinacore as Mikey, and Nikki Blonsky as The Voice,” he said.

“This concept is very different from my last projects,” he said. “I had just created a half hour comedy series on Prime called ‘Girl Chill” and a feature documentary about dog sledding, ‘Heartprints in the Snow.’ This film was a totally different format, different genre, and included name talent to bring the story to life. Making a feature film is a huge undertaking, and with limited resources we pulled off an amazing production and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Working with the cast of ‘Oblivious’

He spoke about working with his cast on “Oblivious.” “There are certain people you work with that you know magic is going to happen. That’s why we had to have Naomi Grossman and Nikki Blonsky. Naomi plays “Willow,” the house caretaker and eventual friend to our lead, Claire (played by Vanessa Lauren Gamble),” he said.

“I grew up in the ‘golden age’ of American Horror Story and fell in love with the character Pepper that Grossman brought to life. Naomi breathes so much fire and life into the roles she plays and that’s exactly what we needed for Willow,” he said.

“Naomi is a true powerhouse, a one-take wonder, and a real force to be reckoned with on screen,” he said. “Nikki Blonsky plays our narrator “The Voice” and like Naomi, has a spark that you can’t ignore. I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with her in person as the narration was all done virtually, but I could tell in our phone conversations how warm, loving, and giving Blonsky was. This was exactly what we needed. She also has a similar interest in the paranormal – the cherry on top of the cake for me.”

Naomi Grossman
Naomi Grossman in ‘Oblivious.’ Photo Courtesy of ‘Oblivious’

Favorite part of the filming experience

He shared his favorite part of the filming experience. “It was watching the connection of my actors, many of whom had never worked alongside each other, come together seamlessly,” he said.

“Without truth in film-making, it’s hard to make a believable experience for the audience. Seeing everyone’s chemistry fit like a perfect puzzle was very enjoyable for me. Roz Stanley and Daniel Hall are a perfect example of this. They had only met for the first time on their first shoot day, and instantly brought so much natural chemistry to their roles,” he elaborated.

“For my role of Collin, I knew my costar Vanessa and I would have great chemistry as we knew each other outside of this film, but it was still magical to see just how well our character choices meshed outside of our personal chemistry. Watching actors create sparks between them in their characters is one of the most exciting things a director and creator can see,” he said.

The digital age

On being an actor and filmmaker in the digital age, he said, “Now is the best time to become a filmmaker! With opportunities at your fingertips it really feels like the Wild West in the industry – everyone has a chance! You just have to pick up a camera and start – whether it’s with an iPhone (amazing capabilities now) or learning to use DSLR or cinema cameras.”

He continued, “It’s tough making independent films and competing alongside the big wigs can be intimidating but if you truly believe in your concept and stand behind your work you’ll find the right people to help push your ideas to the right audience. I’ve also learned that you don’t have to have a massive budget anymore.”

“Our Emmy-nominated documentary was created with under 1000 in budget and our current film has a micro-budget as well (though well above 1000). If you work within your own means, you can create your own opportunities instead of waiting for the gatekeepers to grant your admission. No excuses! Just say ‘yes’ and start creating,” he said.

Writer’s Guild of America strike

He also shared his thoughts on the Writer’s Guild of America strike. “We have to support our writers,” he said. “They are technically the gods of every film, series, documentary, short, etc. They are responsible for creating the worlds and characters we fall in love with.

“All they want is their fair share of the pie, and we have to support them in that. Also, no AI can ever replace the experienced, beating heart of every writer and how it transcends to the page. Human experience trumps AI every time. There are so many reasons to get out there and support our community of writers. The future of our industry is at stake,” he expressed.

Closing thoughts on ‘Oblivious’

“I want audiences to know that there’s a message for everyone in ‘Oblivious’,” he said. “The film centers on finding acceptance in grief, gaining understanding of things you can’t control, learning to navigate some of the toughest times in our life, and most importantly on learning to find peace in the ‘now’.”

“This film is meant to make you think – maybe about a relative you know that you can help, or maybe about your own struggles. I want the audience to remember that life can be scary, but that fear is often more deadly than any disease or illness we may face,” he said.

“It can lead us to do things we may regret or, in extreme cases, things that we cannot come back from. Learn to take life in strides, take in the good, the bad, the ugly, everything. In the film, Willow said it best: ‘Embrace everything you’re feeling. Breathe it in, and then breathe it all out’,” he concluded.

For more information on “Oblivious,” check out its Instagram page.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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