Executive Reads: Robin Smith

Robin Smith started his own distribution, production and marketing consultation company, KinoSmith, which helps fill a void in consolidating Canadian distribution forces by providing marketing advice to productions in development and in the can, as well as acting as Executive Producer on a variety of upcoming Canadian feature film and television products. Robin has brought a strong background of over 17 years of film, video and arts-related work to his new company. Among his latest releases is the critically acclaimed, incredibly powerful The World Before Her, winner of Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC and of Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs. These are the reads that inspire him…

Movies and Money – David Puttnam
I had already started working in the film industry when I stumbled upon this book. I had known of Mr. Puttnam as the ex-head of Columbia Pictures but also as a world class film producer who produced some of my favourite films growing up (The Killing Fields, The Mission, Midnight Express and Chariots of Fire to name a few). I found this book immensely intriguing as both a historical record of the twisted connection of art and the industry of film (from Edison to present-day Hollywood), but also an inspiration for anyone wishing to work in the film industry, that a creative individual such as Puttnam could navigate the hardcore film biz while still keeping his artistic integrity in take. 

Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema – Andrey Tarkovsky
I know this may be a pretentious choice, but back in film school I was a huge fan of Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky’s films, and, as a result, I went out and bought this book Tarkovsky had written about his philosophy behind his filmmaking. I don’t think I’ve ever underlined, highlighted and earmarked a book so much as this text. It was full of wonderful insights not only about film but also art and life itself. He taught me that the norm was never acceptable and that any art form can only evolve by being questioned and challenged (as he states in his Introduction: “I generally came to recognize my own working principles through questioning established theory.”) Let’s face it, film is a young art form and without questioning how the language of film is constructed, we’ll never advance the medium. 

Folk-Tales of the British Isles – edited by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Perhaps an odd choice on the surface, but films are about storytelling; and what better to influence one’s self than to go back and read some of the original tales told by past generations? I became slightly obsessed with reading anthologies of folk tales as a teen. I was astounded at how many of these tales had woven their way into our current lives through popular media and films. Let’s face it, we’ve talked about how there are only essentially seven basic plots and every movie is just a re-telling of one of these plots, so why not go back even further and see what some of the original stories were about? There is some great material yet to be resurrected in some of these tales – I wonder how long it will be before Hollywood finds some of the gems in this book.

Honourable mention: 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Judith Viorst
This book can get ANYONE through a bad day and I’ve had many. I LOVED this book as a child.