Robert Kouba: The future of Hollywood
by Eileen Grubba
A few years ago, while shooting a film in NY, I was asked to jump in on a lead role in another film. Their “name” had suddenly fallen out, and I was recommended by members of The Actors Studio. It would require me shooting in L.A. the morning after flying back from NY, with no prep time. In keeping with Eileen tradition, I said, “Sure! Why not?!” The script looked good, the filmmakers were in from Europe with a very tight schedule, and they needed someone to step up to the plate, fast.
I flew back and reported to set, excited to meet the director with the courage to hire an actor he’d never met. There was a very young man standing by the monitors talking with the DP, so I figured his Dad must be directing. I interrupted. “Excuse me, where’s the director?” The young man smiled, raised one hand out of his pockets and said, “That’s me.”
I was thinking, “Really? He looks fifteen! Ok… Why not?!” His name is Robert Kouba, and he was actually eighteen. He thanked me for coming on board, introduced me to everyone, and went on to direct his next shot while I went into hair and make-up.
As the day progressed, I became more and more intrigued by this young director. He ran his set like a seasoned professional. He was intelligent, kind, calm, had confidence in his decisions, faith in his actors, and an amazing rapport with his crew. For every question, he had an answer, for every problem, a solution. He encouraged collaboration and exhibited no ego, no fear, no stress. He inspired an impressive team effort, and everyone was doing their best work.
Fascinated by his skill level, I asked a lot of questions. This young man worked for years to buy his first car, but decided instead to use that money to make an alien film. His film school teacher, cinematographer Sebastian Cepeda, believed in Robert so much, he partnered with him on his filmmaking adventure. Robert then made a deal with a team of young digital effects artists in Switzerland. They came to the States to work with experienced actors. He emailed anytime he had industry questions. He was thirsty for knowledge and very inquisitive.
A few months later, my IMDb number sky-rocketed to the top 5000. Robert had released his sci-fi film trailer on the net. They had over a hundred thousand hits within a few days. I flew to Zurich for the film’s premiere and was blown away. No one would have believed this film was made by a teenager with little money. It looked like a big budget, studio film!
Immediately, he started writing his next project. He had promised if I cried multiple times on cue, he’d write a “pretty” role for me next, and he did. Not only is he talented, but he also does what he says he’s going to do. Intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness, work ethic, and integrity!! Is this kid a recipe for success, or what?
By the time Robert was twenty, we were flying into Prague to shoot his feature, Aurora. Robert asked me to stay for the entire shoot to coach his young leads, too. We were whisked off to Chernovice in the Czech Republic and finished shooting in Zurich. Robert spoke to cast and crew in four different languages. He pulled off miracles to get what he needed, adapted whenever necessary, and again led a fantastic, collaborative team. Through the trials of filmmaking we witnessed the courage and will of this young man. No matter what went wrong, he found a way to carry on.
Robert started making films with his dad’s camcorder when he was ten. He made a film a week with his friends, each time stepping up to another level. By the age of twelve, he was winning directing awards in film festivals, and he never stopped. No wonder he was so confident on set when he was 18! I’ve rarely seen such commitment, knowledge and talent combined. When the cast and crew went out partying, Robert went home to prep for his next day’s shoot. He focuses on his dream, sees opportunity in everything, constantly takes risks, and works hard.
Now Robert is 21, wrapping post on Aurora. His pre-shoot trailer already has over three millions hits online, and he is being courted by the biggest companies in Hollywood. Go figure. And yet, he remains humble. Talk about inspiring!
Robert Kouba is what it takes to make it in Hollywood. I believe this “kid” is our next Spielberg.Tags: Actress, Aurora (film), Breaking into Hollywood, Eileen Grubba, Entertainment industry, Hollywood, Independent filmmaking, Robert Kouba, The Actors Studio, The Rift