C.T. Robert

C.T. Robert

C.T. Robert


What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work was a NIKE FM project that I worked on in 2020.

How did you get into directing?
We’re all just a ripple of those who came before us. While my grandfather would have never considered himself a director, he always had the camera on him and was documenting things (ie. Family events, holidays, etc.) I think it rubbed off on me, because I was always observant and taking note of the world around me. When I was 12, I remember finally attempting to make something when my friend Miles wanted to shoot a music video. It was the first time I remember trying to make something from inside my mind with the camera as my tool of choice. From there it was off to the races and a whole world opened up for me.

What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is this film project I put together for the R&B singer H.E.R. for a performance she did in São Paulo. In short, I was tasked with creating some visuals for the screens that showed up behind her during her performance. It was insane, because around 100,000 people were in attendance. I’d never experienced that before, having that many people viewing something I made simultaneously. Also, I love Brazil. Overall, a 10 out of 10 experience.

What is the best part of being a director?
The best part of being a director is by far all of the different types of people I get to meet along the way and the new places I get to see as a result. I know this sounds like a cliche but those moments really make the journey a fulfilling one. Just this month I was fortunate to travel to Brazil, Mexico City, and Morocco, and each time I was paired with a crew that I had never worked with. The relationships and memories we made filled my heart though. I really feel like I’m building meaningful connections with new people with every project I have the opportunity to hop on.

What is the worst part of being a director?
The worst part I would say is the uncertainty and doubt that occasionally seeps in. I’m extremely confident in my craft but when those feelings take the wheel it really makes me think about all the times with loved ones and friends I miss out on in pursuit of something that’s not necessarily promised. That being said, there is no Plan B, so those feelings typically fade away pretty quickly. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, and I know those I cherish know how passionate I am to do the thing I love, so there is really no other option.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My focus has and always will be to work in television and movies. Commercials and branded content will always be a part of my career, and I’m thankful I get to work in this space, but I’ve always seen them as an opportunity to refine my craft, try new ideas and meet new people. I never went to school for filmmaking so everything has been developed through my experiences. At the heart of everything though, I’m a storyteller, and TV and movies tend to lean further in that direction than the latter. With regards to what I think I’ll specialize in, I don’t really feel I’ll specialize in anything specifically. Storytelling is where I thrive most in my directing abilities, so whatever ends up being the means for telling the best story for the project I’m working on will always end up being what I aim to specialize in. One day that could be animation, the next it could be dramedy’s. I value the fact that I’m a Swiss Army knife and I never want to give people the opportunity to pigeon hole me.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I have had countless mentors. Honestly too many to count. Whether that be Joseph Patel, Tomas Whitmore, Mito Habe-Evans, my mom, my aunt, my grandma… the list really goes on. I think if there’s one thing that all of them have encapsulated, it’s instilling within me the wherewithal to always be honest in my craft. By this I mean, stay true to my creative voice and don’t chase after things that I think others may deem “good”, but rather lean into things that capture my own personal interest.

Who is your favorite director and why?
I don’t think I could name one, but if I boiled it down to a handful, I would say definitely Scorsese, Spike Lee, Khalil Joseph, David Fincher, Hiro Murai and Tarantino. Scorsese for his cinematic flare. Spike for his unapologetic Blackness. Joseph for his ethereal nature. Fincher for his unflinching vision. Murai for his ability to live in that gray space in reality that sometimes feels surreal. And last but not least Tarantino for his storytelling acumen.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Favorite movie is impossible for me. When it comes to TV though, by far, my favorite shows of all time are Breaking Bad and Atlanta. Breaking Bad is the perfect show to me and it didn’t overstay it welcome. The way the characters evolve is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the ending was done so satisfyingly. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched it. Atlanta is another favorite because of how gutsy it was — especially in season 3. They created expectations, then after building so much hype, they through the formula out the window, but did it in a way that felt honest. A lot of people hated it, but I LOVED it. Storytelling shouldn’t be formulaic. It need to be able to adapt, and they did just that to achieve the creative vision they wanted.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Germantown, MD. In the past I worked in journalism, having worked at NPR and then moving over to more music branded work while at VEVO for a couple years.

Have you had occasion to bring your storytelling/directorial talent to bear in the Metaverse, tapping into the potential of AR, VR, AI, NFTs and/or experiential fare? If so, tell us about that work and what lessons you have taken away from the experience?
I’ve done a couple VR shoots, one of the most significant being a NIKE FM program that I directed. I’m also currently creative directing an artist album rollout which will touch on this a bit in addition to including experimental components. With NIKE FM it was more so creating a space that extended our set in the VR space. It was a dope experience thinking of ways outside of the tangible space to further illustrate the world we had created. Honestly, I’d love to work on more things that touch on that. The possibilities are unless. With regards to experiential, it’s all very new for me, but I see it as just another opportunity to world build. Creative Direction is something I’ve been doing more and more of, and I think it’s because it’s essentially directing, but on a larger scale. So much of what we do as director’s will end up living solely in a 2D space, but this aspect allows us to make it far more interactive for our audience and I’m all for this if it helps make our vision and story clearer for our audience.