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Former RedHawks headed for Hollywood after shooting local feature-length film

Walt Robinson, Jesse Howell acknowledge campus involvement in their cinematic pursuits

Walt Robinson

IU Northwest File Photo
Walt Robinson

Independent filmmaker and 2011 Indiana University Northwest graduate Walt Robinson has wrapped filming on his first full-length movie, “Basic Cable,” one scene of which was shot on the Indiana University Northwest campus in July.

This month, Robinson will travel to Los Angeles for an internship with De Line Pictures, which has offices on the Warner Bros. production lot. De Line Pictures produced the summer superhero film “Green Lantern.”

Robinson is a Rockport, Ind. native who came to IU Northwest in 2007 to play basketball for the RedHawks and study communication. He and his fellow alumnus, former RedHawk hoops star Jesse Howell, have big Hollywood dreams, and their experiences at IU Northwest have been instrumental in putting them on the road to success.  

“Basic Cable” is an expansion of Robinson’s 2010 short film of the same name. That one featured Robinson and Howell as a pair of maintenance workers who plot to rob a dim-witted and offensive neighbor. They followed that one up with “The Superiors,” another short film about hapless criminals who aren’t very good at committing crime.

With the help of a local production crew, Robinson and Howell expanded “Basic Cable” to feature length. Shooting took place largely in Crown Point at the home of Student Life Coordinator Scott Fulk, who also appears in the film.  

“We already knew the story. We just had to expand it,” Robinson explained. “It was just a matter of putting (the script) on paper.”

Although the film is not a university-sponsored project, IU Northwest faculty and staff members volunteered to appear in the movie or provide locations and support. Robinson shot one scene on campus, in the men’s locker room at the Savannah Gymnasium.

Professor of English Alan Barr, Ph.D., also appears in the film, as does Senior Lecturer of English Douglas Swartz. Barr teaches a film studies class at IU Northwest that Robinson took last semester.

“Professor Barr let us film at his house for 12 hours,” Howell said. “We were at Scott Fulk’s house for something like a month. I don’t know why people would do that for us. I wouldn’t do it! But people here have really helped us out.” 

“It’s encouraging to have so many people from the campus behind you on a project like this,” said Robinson, who added that he would like to show “Basic Cable” on campus at some point. “It’s been great.”  

Robinson’s IU Northwest connections also helped him to secure his internship with De Line Pictures. IU Northwest Director of Student Life and Athletics Charles Gary, Ph.D., has a brother, Chris Gary, who is a creative executive at Warner Bros. Dr. Gary arranged for Robinson to meet with his brother at the studio’s offices in Los Angeles.

That meeting took Robinson someplace that many actors, writers and directors have spent years trying to get into – inside the gates of a major movie studio. With résumé in hand, he took full advantage of the opportunity.

“Once you’re inside the gate, and you have a pass, people just assume that you’re supposed to be there,” Robinson explained. “As long as you don’t do anything stupid, like walk onto a live soundstage or into (“Mentalist” star) Simon Baker’s trailer, you can pretty much go anywhere you want.”  

Robinson went to the studio offices of the “Conan O’Brien” and “Ellen DeGeneres” shows, among others. He convinced an intern at O’Brien’s office to make copies of his résumé for him. He distributed them to every studio office he could find, including that of Legendary Pictures, producer of “The Hangover” films.

Finally, with only a few résumés left, Robinson spotted a door marked “Private.” He went in, anyway. It turned out to be the offices for De Line Pictures, which produced the recent super-hero hit “Green Lantern.”  

“The woman there asked me if I was there about the internship,” he recalled. “I was sweating. I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ She interviewed me right there and offered me the internship. It was an interesting experience. She was a really nice lady.”

This took place in March, and Robinson had to explain that he was still a few months away from graduation. He could have begun his internship in May, but when the opportunity arose to shoot his “Basic Cable” feature, Robinson asked to postpone the internship until August. De Line Pictures was impressed enough with the young filmmaker to wait for him.

Robinson and Howell, who will also relocate to L.A., said they never expected to go from playing basketball for the RedHawks at IU Northwest to shooting a feature film and looking for their big break in Hollywood. But Robinson said he doesn’t aspire to become an A-list actor or the next Steven Spielberg.

“If we could just keep making our movies, and get them distributed and seen by people, that would be great,” he said. “I’d like that.” 


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