Artist Robert D. Brooks was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has had one overwhelming passion in the years since: film and television. Even from the tender age of 8 or 9, it was quite common for him to be up hours later than his parents, watching old movies. At the age of fifteen, he operated his first studio camera, shooting on-air footage for the Knowledge Network on a work assignment from his high school's pioneering television production career-prep program, the only one in Vancouver at the time. But, it wasn't until the next year that Robert truly began to understand the power of the moving picture, when he was informed that a video he had shot and edited as a favour to his teacher had made the whole room cry when played at the charity fundraiser it was for. 'What really struck me the most, was when my Teacher told me that my high school's Principal had cried. He was this big, mean son of a bitch - or, at least, I'm sure he seemed like that to a snot-nosed high-school brat. But, for this big guy - the most powerful man I knew, a man you were terrified of, petrified of - to actually cry. Tears of joy and sadness. From something I had created. It just changed my whole outlook about what film and television - what art - can accomplish.'
After graduating college (on the Dean's List as one of BC's top business students), Robert was accepted into the graduate program at UBC (3rd year), but opted to go to Vancouver Film School to pursue his dream of being a cameraman instead. 'After a few years of college, I realized that I was training to work a desk for the rest of my life, punching numbers into a calculator, wearing a three piece suit every day. When I realized that, I just couldn't handle the thought of it. That was about as far away from the life I wanted as is possible. I had to get out and do what I loved instead.'
It was shortly after film school, when an old friend of Robert's called him with a favour: He was in Vancouver Film School's music video program at the time, and the school wanted him to shoot and edit a short film, in order to learn about the multimedia aspects of web-design and video game creation. The only problem was that he had absolutely no interest in film or video, and wondered if Robert had any short film scripts he wanted to shoot for fun with him. Luckily, Robert had just written a spoof/parody of the old slinky commercials, only using something completely innapropriate in place of the Slinkies. 'The Dildo Song' was born (the friend had absolutely no qualms about handing in an x-rated assignment)! The internet was fairly young at the time, and video was just beginning to break. On a lark, Robert sent it in to the largest internet video site at the time (long before YouTube). Then, something interesting happened. Since the video was NC-17 at the very least (despite having only one swear word and no nudity or violence), Robert didn't want to promote it. He sent one single email to a movie-poster-collectors mailing list (of only a couple hundred people). That one email led to hundreds of thousands of viewers within months (and hundreds of millions over the life of it). This was in the days when watching a video on the web led to about a 50% chance of your computer crashing, so those initial numbers are staggering. The video was first posted in July - and by December it was the #2 most downloaded video in the history of the world!
Over the next years, Robert worked in just about every capacity in the film and video industry, from Craft-Services to Grip, cinematographer to editor, production manager to director, writer to executive producer. Some highlights would have to include:
* While assisting-on (in actuality, writing/directing/producing/cinematographing) a series of public-service announcements for the CBC, Robert cast a young high-school girl named Carly Pope in one of her very first roles (she has since gone on to fame and fortune south of the border as a film and television star).
* Robert has traveled around the world creating corporate, marketing and instructional videos for world-famous clients.
* Robert has directed chart-topping music videos for some of Canada's biggest indie artists... In a testament to his range, Robert was never pigeon-holed into one genre, shooting videos for such varied genres as rap, rock, country, easy-listening and accoustic blues.
* Robert helped found a friend's production company, a company which is now famous for discovering some of the biggest talent in Hollywood (multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe nominees).
* Robert was an Executive Producer on music videos for some of Canada's biggest artists, including Muchmusic Video Award winning videos.
* Robert has been called 'one of Canada's most innovative young directors' by the world-famous Just For Laughs International Festival of Comedy, and other equally generous plaudits from critics around the world.
* Robert's first short film was once named 'One of the Top 20 Film Experiences of the Year' by a popular US metropolitain radio station - 19 Hollywood films - and a film school editing project with a budget in the low hundreds!
* Robert's work as writer/director/producer has been liscenced to numerous broadcast television programs around the world (ITV, the BBC, Bravo!, Playboy, etc...) as well as being invited to popular film and comedy festivals around the world (New York, LA, Just For Laughs, etc...).
* Robert's work has been seen on literally dozens of different television networks across Canada, the US, Britain and the rest of the world.
* Emmy winner and multiple Academy Award and Golden Globe Nominee (Best Picture, Best Screenplay, etc...) Neill Blomkamp once directed a music video based on Robert's photography.
* The term viral video was actually coined to refer to one of Robert's videos.
Robert is somewhat media-shy and tries to remain out of the spotlight as much as possible (for instance, he just script-doctored the screenplay for a movie - uncredited, and he once was the cinematographer/camera-operator on another movie, uncredited).
Recently, Robert funded his own series of short internet videos, a hilarious ultra-low-budget mockumentary set in a seedy urban brothel called 'Bordello Diaries.' At his Producer's suggestion, Robert edited the series of about a dozen short videos together into an 82-minute feature-length video, and they sent it out to some underground and cult-movie distributors, not expecting much in response (the movie would most certainly receive the dreaded NC-17 rating, despite having little nudity and no violence, limiting its commercial potential to near zero). To their surprise, they received numerous international distribution offers, including one from a childhood favourite of Robert's, Troma! Indie icons Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman came onboard as co-executive producers (The Toxic Avenger, My Dinner with Andre, Rocky, etc...). Mr. Kaufman is currently the head of independent film's main trade group. In the end, Robert wrote, directed, executive-produced, picture and sound-edited, and even co-starred in the film. In case you are unfamiliar with Troma's work, they are a small production company/distributor from New York, who are currently the world's oldest surviving independent film studio. They are famous in film-buff and Hollywood circles for discovering a who's-who of Hollywood talent including Academy Award winners Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisa Tomei, etc...
Aside from film and television, Robert's had a rather interesting life. When he was a year old, his parents moved to Hong Kong, as his father was a big-wig salesman at IBM and was sent to head up their Asian division. IBM was famous for moving their executives around the globe at the time (they used to joke that IBM stood for 'I've Been Moved!'), and or course, within short order, the family moved back to Vancouver, onto Calgary and back to Vancouver yet again. Despite his short (5'10') stature and scrawny build (apart from the fact that he wasn't particularly fast either), Robert excelled at basketball (playing regularly with NCAA and professional athletes - and, oddly, television stars Richard Burgi [The Sentinel, Desperate Housewives] and Gil Bellows [Ally McBeal] - until his late 20's). When he was 19, Robert made perhaps the greatest quote in all of Canadian sports history. A quote the New York Times would later call one of their top sports stories of the year. In his early 20's Robert almost turned pro at pool (billiards), but decided not to due to a family history of poor eye-sight and hand tremors. For years, he supported himself at not just one or two, but three forms of professional gambling (poker, pool and horse racing - Robert's second home during his childhood was Hastings Park Racetrack (formerly Exhibition Park at the PNE). By the age of 12 (in the mid-80's), it was not uncommon for Robert to send $500+ worth of bets with his father, when he couldn't attend in person due to school commitments or whatnot. In fact, for about 50 minutes one year, Robert was the top thoroughbred racehorse owner and breader in the province of British Columbia! When he was editing his movie for Troma, during breaks, Robert would play poker on Party Poker (playing 6-8 tables at once to keep himself interested) and by the time he finished editing the movie, he was the #4 ranked tournament player out of more than one hundred million active players. He once owned a pool-hall and bar and is even an accomplished painter and photographer.
Robert gained an appreciation for art at a young age, most likely due to influence of his cousin Di (McCarten-Brooks). It was not uncommon for a ten year old Bob to return home from family vacations with suitcases full of lithographs and sculpture, instead of t-shirts and knick-knacks (being a child, he couldn't afford originals). Despite having an appreciation for art from an early age, and even taking art history in college, it wasn't until his late 20's that Robert turned his hand to painting!
Bob has always prefered large canvases. In fact, his largest painting on canvas is more than 10 by 20 feet, consisting of dozens of different individual canvases. Robert works in many different styles or genres:
* Pop Art
* Film & Video
* Writing or Text
* Folk Art
* Found Art
* Conceptual Art
* Portraiture / Portraits
* About his abstract works (Robert calls them neo-neo-plasticism), it is said: 'Kind of like a more humanistic Mondrian (Reddit.com)'