Below is a short Q & A session with Robert Kirbyson, the acclaimed, independent Canadian director who packed up and moved to San Diego for five weeks recently, to make a film that sees its world premiere at San Diego Film Fest.
One of the movie’s lead stars is San Diego native Nicole Gale Anderson, who first found fame on the Disney Channel (Jonas LA) and will soon be appearing on the CW in Beauty and the Beast.
The movie’s youngest actor, Renee Sly, is also a San Diego native and was discovered during a casting call.
Kirbyson, born in Winnepeg, started his career as an animator and live-action producer for Sesame Street.
He went on to direct for several Canadian series and worked as a cinematographer.
In 2009 he moved to the U.S. to direct his first feature film, Snowmen, for famed Producer Stephen McEveety (The Passion, Braveheart). The following year, his short film Ctrl Z (premiered at SDFF ’07) was noticed by execs at NBC Universal and he was hired to turn it into Ctrl, the first stand-alone web series produced by a major studio.
Logan Broyles: What is your film Red Line about?
Robert Kirbyson: Red Line is a contained-space thriller about a group of survivors trapped in a collapsed subway tunnel after a violent crash, which they suspect was caused by a bomber still among them.
The film was produced on a micro-budget with a mostly student crew at John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego. It was an experiment mainly to provide practical experience for the students, but somehow the project attracted a stellar cast.
Thanks to the extraordinary efforts and dedication of these students, and likely some divine intervention, we managed to not only finish the project — but make a movie that I think stands with anything coming out of Hollywood.
LB: What made you want to premiere it at the San Diego Film Festival (SDFF)?
RK: I had a short film at SDFF in 2007, so I knew firsthand that it’s one of the best festivals in the country. [Red Line] was shot in San Diego so having the world premiere here allows us to celebrate with the entire cast and crew.
LB: What is your favorite part about the SDFF?
RK: Even though [my short film Ctrl Z (Control Z) was only a 6-minute short, the festival treated me like an up-and-coming star. The panels, screenings, parties and opportunities to meet other filmmakers became the standard by which I judge other festivals. Its reputation has only grown since then and I’ve seen it on many lists as one of the top filmmaker-friendly festivals in the country.
LB: Why should people come to the film festival?
RK: The most important reason to attend SDFF is that they choose great films – and I’m not just saying that because they chose mine. I’m not into the more artsy-fartsy fare films by many fests, but SDFF has developed an ideal balance between cutting-edge films and stories that are also crowd-pleasing.
Red Line: World Premiere
Director: Robert Kirbyson
Cast: Nicole Gale Anderson, John Billingsley, Kunal Sharma
Synopsis: Moments after departing the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station, commuters on L.A.’s subway system experience a sudden explosion. Most passengers die on impact as the train is violently derailed and sent smashing into the tunnel’s walls.
World Premiere Screening: 6:00 p.m., Sat., Sept. 29 at Reading Theater Gaslamp. Q&A immediately following with Kirbyson and many of the cast.
Second Screening: 5:30 p.m., Sun., Sept 30 at Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Q&A immediately following.
Editor’s Note: Downtown News followed up with Kirbyson, who told us that Saturday night’s World Premiere was a “rare sell out” and the “screening on Sunday [in La Jolla] was apparently the best ever attended.”
He also told us Red Line received “Best San Diego Film.” If you didn’t get the chance to see it, keep an eye out for future screenings. – ed.