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Meet Matthew Robinson of Red Flag Media Productions in The Valley/North Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Robinson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After moving out to LA, I first attended Santa Monica Community College where I took my first screenwriting class. It was taught by a brilliant teacher named Stephen Galloway, who works for the Hollywood Reporter. I had had an interest in screenwriting from an early age and he was unapologetic with his critiques. I loved it personally, it helped me realize I was serious about writing. I transferred to Pepperdine University and from there met many of my friends and future collaborators. We worked on a bunch of local access broadcast TV shows that focused on the news, sports and pop culture. However, the big moment for us was becoming producers on the 17th season of “The Randumb Show” a sketch comedy show created by Mike Richards. Having the freedom to explore and try out new things with TV/film really bonded us together. Eventually, we wanted to try our hand at long from and ended up making a feature film in college: “Death Suspects a Murder.” I wrote as well as edited the film and it was directed by Jenn Marlis. “Death Suspects a Murder” became the springboard once we graduated for Red Flag Media Productions to become our creative banner. We started off making shorts and comedy sketches and the momentum picked up from there.

It took me a while to find my voice. As a writer, director and producer I was all over the place. It wasn’t until I was desperately trying to make my way into the industry that I realized I needed to focus on what made me unique. I have always had a real passion for science, history and culture so I combined all those things into my stories. Film, theatre and TV scripts became this way for me to blend my passions together. Once I clicked with that, I began to gain more confidence with my work.

I was in the middle of editing my feature-film directorial debut on a micro-budget film called “My Friend Violet” and was at a crossroads. I wasn’t quite sure what to do next with my career. Several friends recommended I try my hand at theatre production and writing with the Hollywood Fringe. I had heard of it and even had seen a play at the Fringe; that my friend Chris Bunyi was in called “Alien vs Musical.” That being said, I had never really tried to put on my own show. So I gave a script to my then roommate and long time creative partner Robby DeVillez called “Politically Challenged” and he told me it was my best work to date. With that in mind we scrounged up every penny and sold anything in our apartment that wasn’t screwed to the floor so we could self-finance our first production. The play turned out to be a relative success and we made a marginal profit.

Since 2016 we’ve stayed at the dance with the Complex Hollywood for all our Fringe shows. I’ve also directed theatre shows for 2Cents’ Inkfest as well Moving Arts Theatre; in partnership with LACMA. Most recently, I wrote and produced the play “Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse” which won Best Comedy, Pick of the Fringe and the Producers’ Encore Award at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe. Robby DeVillez has continued to be the best partner a guy could ask for and directed the production.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been a smooth road but I have been very blessed to get second and even third chances early on in my career. When I first started out most of my struggles were self-inflicted. Sometimes it was a failure to plan ahead, other times it was being too focused on the creative process and not the business end of things. I’d say I made my biggest mistakes directing and producing the feature film “My Friend Violet” back in 2014. It was a script written by the very talented Michael Montgomery, and while the movie ultimately came out well the production was a nightmare. If I don’t live a good life here on earth my punishment will be to relive this set for eternity.

We had a budget of about $10k with most of that coming out of pocket. We were grateful to have a producer named Greg Shupe come in and help us out a bit, but in the end we were deep in the red during production. We had a skeleton crew, and some days that skeleton crew was missing a few bones. I have a memory seared in my mind of trying to balance giving my actors their motivations while stirring a pot of chicken pasta. But we finished it; on time, on budget and without my head in a guillotine. That was kind of my wake up call, I needed to get serious about my craft. Since then, the lessons I’ve learned from that have served me well in the world of theatre and film. The road has had a few potholes but we’re driving a metaphorical pickup truck now and don’t feel them as often.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I run Red Flag Media Productions with Robby DeVillez; we make films, theatre, shorts and just about anything else in the world of entertainment. We specialize in theatre and film and are proud of our various film festival appearances and theatre awards.

I think either “BlackBalled: The Rise and Fall of Negro League Baseball” or “Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive The Apocalypse” are our proudest moments. Both were nominated and even won some major awards, they were big critical and box office successes as well. Beyond that however they were two pieces where I really felt I had found myself and my style. I’m always evolving, we as a company are always evolving too.

Red Flag Media Productions is dedicated to unique storytelling that gives people new insight into different time periods, cultures, ideas and perspectives. I think that’s part of what sets us apart, but I think another aspect is that we continually strive to create projects that generate a sense of pride among those involved. Creative works like these are collaborative, we genuinely want everyone’s voice to be heard. That includes the audience, I personally want a conversation with those who see our work. Maybe it’s the archaeologist in me, but I want there to always be something worth exploring under the surface.

What were you like growing up?
I was always an avid writer. Even as a kid the moment I learned how to write I was filling up composition books with rip-offs of Star Wars, DC comics and Saturday morning cartoons; starring me and my friends. I was actually pretty focused on becoming an archaeologist and journalist for a good deal of my childhood. That was until I went to an event in Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center that was about undersea archaeology; focusing on James Cameron’s team of researchers. I was fascinated with the techniques and history but quickly found myself enthralled with the filmmaking process as well. After that I began to write full-length scripts and episodic adventures before eventually moving out to LA for college.

I was actually a pretty introverted kid, even though I was really sociable and eager to make friends I definitely needed my time alone. (Heck, I still do.) Those hours were spent reading, writing, playing Sega and making up adventures in my head. With friends we were usually exploring creeks or wooded areas, pretending we were everything from scientists to superheroes. We used to have this group called The Dirty Creek Bros. and we’d all go to the creek and keep it clean and check the water quality with our Toys R’ Us science kits. When it snowed we’d keep track of all the hills we sled down, to find out the fastest, the most dangerous and the most fun. Keeping score of who won races was also part of the fun. We’d chart them in our dollar store notebooks and give our recommendations to other sledders.

I think I always needed a project, outside of school, outside of chores, something that was just for fun. Storytelling became my outlet; but there is definitely another dimension out there where I became an archaeologist, or a farmer, or some sort of park ranger.

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Photo by: Kyle Rubalcava

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