Christopher Robinson shoots video verite on a shoestring
So, you want to make movies?
Christopher Robinson has some advice for you:
Study hard, be patient and don't worry about money.
Follow these suggestions, and you just may wind up like Mr. Robinson, who at 25 has had his music videos shown on MTV and Black Entertainment Television.
"I'm still in the struggle, but I'm doing what I want to do," he says.
His big break came last year when he landed the video for Doo Doo Brown, a hip-hop song by 2 Hyped Brothers and a Dog. The parody on being cool became a cult favorite, and Mr. Robinson's work turned up on many TV programs.
The assignment also opened doors in Europe for his brand of video verite. He shuns computer imagery, favoring gritty realism and humor instead. In one of his early videos, he spliced snatches of Saturday morning cartoons together with live footage.
But tight budgets (his most lavish was $15,000) have caused him to cut corners in ingenious ways. He's used flashlights for lamps, a wheelchair for a dolly and even climbed rafters with his camera when he couldn't splurge for a crane.
The toughest part is sometimes explaining the conditions to musicians.
He says, "I have to tell them, 'It's not Hollywood. You're not going to be given a chair, and no one is going to feed you grapes.' " If Hope Cucina isn't home on a Saturday morning, friends know where to find her: the landfill.
That's where she'll be, salvaging lumber, paint and tile destinefor the trash.
As executive director of the Loading Dock, a non-profit grouthat collects building materials for low-income organizations, she sees possibilities in what others throw away.
Ms. Cucina and her 13-member staff have recycled 24,000 tons of supplies, aiding more than 2,000 charitable businesses in the last nine years. In addition to scouting landfills, she has convinced many retailers and builders to donate their surplus.
She soon may develop a national network, particularly since 210 officials in other cities have contacted her about the project.
Such efforts have captured the attention of Good Housekeeping magazine, which named her a "local hero" in its March issue.
After working in retail, she switched to the non-profit sector because it was more satisfying.
"When I was growing up, we were at the poor end of working class. I understand how a lot of good people struggle to survive," says Ms. Cucina, 38, who lives in the same South Baltimore home where she grew up.
Her first name, however, has nothing to do with her good deeds.
"I was named Hope because I was the seventh child," she says, "and my mom was hoping there wouldn't be any more."
Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278; or call (410) 332-6156.