Interview by Anthony Najera || Images by Marcus Junius Laws
Heath Robinson is a local videographer in Denton, TX who has volunteered his time, passion, and energy towards our creative messages for several years. We are beyond grateful for his talents and assistance, and we recently got to talk to him about his work with 35 Denton, why he is excited about the festival, and how he thinks it ties to our community. Staff writer and local videographer Anthony Najera shares his interview below.
ANTHONY NAJERA: It’s great to see you involved with 35 Denton for another year. In 2013 you were involved with the in-house video team, and now you’ve reprise your role with the festival. How did you get started with the festival and why did you want to get involved?
Heath Robinson: 35 Denton is such an amazing festival. I worked with a few of the members of Amandus Studios, Jonathan Heath and Chuck Crosswhite, on a part time photography job as their manager and when they discovered that I lived in Denton we began hanging out and doing more work together. They brought my into the fold as their editor and producer and since they were involved in shooting a lot of the Denton music scene i got introduced to the former creative director of 35 [Denton], Kyle [LaValley]. She told me about what they were doing and as a new resident to Denton I’d never been a part of the festival before. She got me really fired up about the 35 Denton festival and I jumped on board that day. I put together the wrap videos for 2012 and ended up creating all the band announces and promos for the 2013 year. I love helping people accurately express their vision, and Denton is an amazing little town with a rich musical history and culture, 35 Denton does such a great job of exposing people to that culture and to some awesome music so that’s really why I couldn’t wait to get involved.
I think the break was good to help refocus on 35 Denton and what they wanted this festival to bring to not just the city of Denton but to the festival culture of Texas. Last year we had some great headlining bands, big names like Solange. This year we focused on bringing in more talent from a wider array of locations, I think the latest announce I’m working on has over 250 names. Not sure if I’m supposed to tell that yet but this new year is going to be a real blast, we have SO MANY groups and musicians from so many different genres, It’s safe to say that this year we’re definitely going back to the music, this years festival is going to have something for everyone.
Hmmm. Well there is certainly a LOT going on during the festival so it tends to be quite a big affair getting the whole thing documented, I don’t think I slept much for 4 days during the 2013 festival, and I didn’t regret it for a minute. An event like this is BIG and even if you bounce from venue to venue it’s gonna be nearly impossible to see every artist. So of course photographing and documenting an event like this is great for promotion and marketing future events, but even more than that it’s a great thing that the festival does to create highlights of the ENTIRE event, so if you missed a certain artist or venue, after the festival is over you can watch the recap videos and go through the photos and see what you may not have been able to get to and really get a feel for the vibe of each artist and venue. Denton’s great about that, every single venue in town has it’s own signatures, and each brings something different to not only the fans but the artists that visit there. A band playing in Hailey’s is going to feel much different than the same artist playing at Dan’s Silverleaf. Documenting the event allows people who couldn’t make the shows and even people who couldn’t make the event the opportunity to experience a slice of the festival and just a bit of the spirit that it brings to Denton.
35 Denton is a staple of Denton. Not only does the festival bring in internationally acclaimed artists but also focuses a lot of attention to local artists and bands. Why is 35 Denton important to Denton, its community, and its arts?
I think it’s great not just for fans of music but for creating fans of the town, Denton really has a unique culture and a unique feel, people like to compare it other towns around the U.S. but I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve traveled all over the Nation doing different jobs but I don’t think I’ve ever been to place as creative, friendly, and diverse as Denton. It’s a great platform not only to showcase local artists, and the bustling local music scene but also for showcasing the unique creativity that you see in Denton. We really have it all, open art galleries in coffee houses and music venues, so many different types of food, even an amazing theatre community. I can’t really think of another place where you can get the dose of creative culture that you can in Denton and I don’t know of a bigger event that exposes people to that culture than 35 Denton.
Is 35 Denton doing anything differently this year that you enjoy?
We’re really trying to broaden our horizons this year with less of a focus on glamour and more of a focus on music, even though the festival is going to be a day shorter, it’s going to consist of a lot more venues and a lot more bands. So even though it could be considered a smaller festival being 3 instead of 4 days, there are going to be SO MANY artists packed into those days, I don’t think that you’re ever going to get to see more music for your money at any other festival. It’s great to be working with a festival that wants to bring as much as they can to their fans.
You will be handling video yet again this year. What are excited for recording and shooting the most?
Ayron Jones and the Way; he’s an up and coming artist from Seattle and he’s got a great blues and rock feel but more than that is that he is playing main stage as 230 so the lighting is gonna be great, the crowds gonna be great and the footage is gonna be amazing. The video nerd in me is drooling over that show, I can’t wait to see what kind of footage we get from the show and Ayron’s interaction with the crowd.
The evening shows are also a blast to shoot and edit when the sun starts to dip below the horizon all of the colors in everything outside just begin to explode visually, we’ll get some great footage during the acts in the evening for sure.
What does your gear setup consist of and who is your go-to team for the festival?
Well my main focus is on post production motion graphics and editing, Although i have been on several of the shoots and did a lot of actual production work during the festival in 2013, this year because of other clients and work I’ve had to pull back from the actual shooting. In past years my go to team has been Amandus Studios founders Chuck Crosswhite, Jonathan Heath, and Wally Walior. Chucks got a great eye for production and Jonathan and Wally bring so much not just technical knowledge, but passion to the work that they produce. And of course I’d have to mention you, Tony. We’ve had the pleasure to work together several times and you’re always ready to get right into work and bring your best. This year I’m working with Marcus Laws, who has handled a lot of the actual filming and production this year in the absence of the Amandus Team, he’s got a great vision for the projects and promos we’ve been producing for the festival thus far. It makes my job so much easier to create when you’ve got someone who is so passionate and through in their production and vision.
As far as gear we’ve shot on anything from a GoPro Hero 2, up through the Cannon c300 Cinema Camera, a ton of different lighting types and audio gear based on where we are shooting. For me personally I edit most of my stuff using the Adobe creative suite painly after effects and premiere, they just hold hands so well as well as generating some 3d elements in Blender.
We really enjoy the work you’ve done so far. The videos are cool, fun, and create a lot of excitement. What kind of mindset or goals do you go into a project with? What are you aiming for?
Each video kind of has it’s own goals and purpose but I’m always trying to create suspense and excitement. Visually I want to get people exciting using a lot of motion and color. Acoustically, I love using music from the artists that are going to be attending. Not only to tease fans of those artists but also to expose the people watching to the music that is going to be at the festival. The main goal is to give people a taste of the energy that they’re going to experience at 35 [Denton].
We’ve got a few…scratch that…we’ve got dozens of exciting musicians, bands, and vendors coming in just a few weeks. What are you most excited for and do you have anything special in store for us?
I’m just excited for the scope of musicians that we have coming in, over 250! Rock, Rap, Blues, Pop, it’s gonna have it all. I love seeing how festival goers react to our acts, how fired up they get at each show and how those artists interact with the audience and with so many artists and over 12 venues going non stop it’s gonna be a weekend to remember.
What’s next for Heath Robinson that we should know about?
Haha, Well you’ll just have to wait and see, our announcements are just getting started, there’s plenty more to come.
Anthony Najera is a local filmmaker and photographer who’s lived in Denton since 2008. He enjoys long walks in the park with his corgi, and runs his own music video project, Denton Staged.