Robert Cuffley said that there is one movie in particular that started his passion for film. That movie is, Star Wars in 1977.
“My dad took me. I was not consciously aware of it yet, but it was the first time I had this accelerating feeling.”
After watching the movie Cuffley had that spark of passion in him to start making his own films.
Using a Super 8 camera that he bought himself through his paper route.
“I shot stuff and showed it for kids in the area. Every time I did it was entrenching me further and further. Pulling me in, to the point where I could not get out.”
After he finished high school Cuffley went and studied film at SAIT. Also, he went to the National Screen Institute and became an alumni at the Canadian Film Centre.
Cuffley describes how his experience learning about film at these different places helped shape him as a filmmaker.
“Directors need to know other people’s jobs. It wasn’t really spearing my mind with creativity it was more about filling my mind with what the rest of the crew does.”
SAIT program took him two years to complete. NSI was off and on for a year. However the NSI and the Canadian Film Centre taught him more about theory. He had to analyse films that debuted in different eras and also learned about the three act structure.
As soon as he finished all of his schooling he had to start developing a reel. A reel is a resume for film. Basically Cuffley would have a bunch of different jobs. Such as commercials, music videos and short films and just show that as his experience.
“You can’t get a job without a reel. You can’t get a reel without a job.”
When it came to directing his first feature film that when Cuffley truly felt tested.
“It’s so much bigger and there are so many people around you. I remember being intimidated.”
There was a lot of learning for Cuffley to do because he was used to doing things one way and features were made a completely different way.
For example, the first scene that was filmed of his feature film in the middle of the movie instead of first scene of the movie.
“The film did really, really well. I won best emerging Western Canadian director. At the Vancouver Film Festival. I went all over the world with it.”
Even though his first me, Turning Paige (2001) was a big success for Cuffley he had a big realization.
“Outside of film festivals, no one wants to go and see a drama. Unless there are stars in it. That’s when I started thinking about more of what I’m doing now. Which is genre movies.”
Cuffley focuses much more on making horror movies. The main reason is because it’s a genre he loves. However, it is also a genre that can be done at any prize and can become very profitable because of the fact that it has a built in audience.
Currently, Cuffley has six completed feature films. He is hoping that by next summer it will be seven.
“I started off really liking big crews because it made me feel important. Now I like really small crews because I am able to work fast. No one is looking my shoulder. It just feels more like a do it yourself kind of situation.”
Cuffley never works on one project at a time. If he is not filming a movie, he is writing another movie. If not writing a movie he is brainstorming ideas for future projects.
“To survive in this business you have to have things at different stages of development.”
His new film ROMI is a feature film version of a short he made a while back. It’s a science fiction horror film that deals with A.I. With hints of the supernatural genre too.
“A girl has an accident and her rich mother wants to hide her from being prosecuted. So she stays at this house which is a futuristic smart house and bad things happen.”
The world premiere of the film at Fantasia. It is the biggest genre festival in the world. Also, the film will be at the Calgary International Film Festival.