by director Jake Schreier
Back in 2002 there were a lot of articles coming out of Japan about their aging baby-boomer population and the crisis of figuring out how to take care of them. Caretaker robots were being put forth and developed as a potential solution. It was a fascinating vision of the future. Christopher Ford read these articles and began writing what would eventually become the film Robot & Frank. Chris and I were friends at film school, and the original version of Robot & Frank was a short he made as his thesis. I was the producer (which meant little more than getting us my uncle's cabin to film in).
Years later, when we were looking for a project to develop as a feature, we returned to the idea and thought there might be a larger story to tell. We're so used to seeing movies with robots that are out to kill us all, or automatons who turn out to magically have a soul. We wanted to tell a story in which the robot was no more and no less than what it was. Instead, we'd focus more on what emotions humans projected onto it. We thought that maybe for a man who was reaching an age where people begin to condescend to you no matter how youthful you feel, a robot could be a better friend than any human. Maybe it could even teach him the value of the relationships he had neglected. And just to keep it lively, what if they started pulling off heists together? (I promise that makes a lot more sense when you see it.)
About two years from the time Chris started writing the full-length script, we found ourselves on a sweltering New York set last summer, making it into a real movie. It's never easy to make one of these things, and we certainly had our share of obstacles (I don't recommend filming with a full-body robot costume in 100 degree heat to anyone thinking of trying it), but when I take a step back it's been an absolute dream come true. Now all I'm looking forward to is the chance to walk over to my neighborhood theater, see the name on the marquee, and buy a ticket. Hopefully some of you will too.