We catch up with Robin Baxter, Sparks Film School alumnus, a Film Studies graduate, screenwriter and also a film critic with Whatculture.com.
Robin first joined our filmmaking classes in 2012. As part of our initial ‘Startups’ crew, which later became known as Studio 5, our programme for filmmakers age 14-18.
Robin also joined the Sparks Head Office team on a work experience placement, where he got a taste for blogging and reviewing films!
Find out more about Robin’s time with Sparks Film School and his achievements in film since.
Hi Robin! What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am focusing a lot on my screenwriting; I have a large number of screenwriting projects on the go and am making slow but steady progress on all of those. Screenwriting is really what I want to focus on.
I am also continuing to review films professionally for Whatculture.com – I am basically continuing what I started with my film reviews on the Sparks blog. Thankfully, I am now a better writer and when I think something is overrated, I state it in a more gentle way! I was definitely a little too savage in my blog reviews for Sparks sometimes!
Throughout 2022, I got a lot of script reading experience and I am also planning on trying to get some runner experience in 2023.
What did you do next after attending Sparks Film School? What has your journey been like since leaving?
After leaving Sparks Film School, I completed my Film Studies A-Level, where I was proud to get an A. I then did an undergraduate degree in Film Studies at the University of Sussex. This was mainly theory and essay-based but I did practical modules here and there and also did some exciting stuff with the Sussex TV station at this time.
My time at Sussex was amazing, and I then did an MA in Screenwriting at the University of the Arts London, having realised that that’s where my passion really was. Unfortunately, the latter half of this was online due to Covid but the MA was still the most helpful degree I could’ve done in regards to my screenwriting.
Where would you like your creativity to take you? Is there a certain creative sector you love working in?
My eventual ambition is to be a successful screenwriter, but I want to work in the industry even if that doesn’t work out. Ideally I’d love to work in pre-production and script development, which is where most of my training is, but I’d be delighted to work in production as well. If I’m helping other people get their work made, then I’m happy!
What was your time at Sparks Film School like?
I was with Sparks Film School for three years from 2012-2015. It was really great for me. [Editor’s note: Sparks was known as Studio Film School until 2016].
I learned a lot about filmmaking and it increased my social confidence as well. I was able to do a day’s runner work on a professional production through Sparks back in 2014, and that summer I did my Year Eleven work experience in both the Sparks office and on set at two of their film workshops.
I’m also very proud of the films I made with Sparks, and I genuinely think that a lot of the short films I was involved in at Sparks were better than quite a few of the films I see in the cinema! For example, the found-footage film we did in 2013 was, in my opinion, a lot better than most cinematic found-footage horror films!
I’m still very close to fellow Sparks Film School alum Nathan, and I remain connected to many of the others through social media. I’ve bumped into a couple of them in rather unexpected ways. Once I was working at an event and I saw someone standing in the doorway who looked awfully familiar… it turned out to Sparks Film School alum Hudson!
Do you have a favourite memory from your time at Sparks Film School?
There are many great memories from Sparks, but I know which one I’d pick as my favourite. It’s actually a two-part story. We made a ‘Don’t use your phone during a film’ type advert and we themed it to Lord of the Rings. In it, Bilbo gets caught by Gollum despite being invisible, as his phone rings and gives him away. I played Gollum and it was so much fun!
Later, we were editing an unrelated short film and watching the whole thing back. It turned out one of the other boys, as a joke, had put a clip of me as Gollum in the middle of the film. It was excruciatingly funny. That’s my favourite Sparks memory. My favourite film I made with Sparks was definitely a film called Heist, which was made on one of the Summer Film Shoots.
What advice might you have for a current Sparks filmmaker pursuing a creative career?
Doing some sort of degree, if you can, really helps a lot. It shows how passionate you are.
Network. Watch as much as you can. Practice your craft as much as you can and never, never give up!
Do you have any advice for any new members of Sparks who are new to our filmmaking classes?
You’ve made a great choice in joining. The main advice I’d give is this: be prepared to laugh. Like, a lot. In the three years I was with Sparks Film School, there was generally at least one hysterical, laugh-out-loud moment per session and I’m not exaggerating!