"Never stop taking risks. Just keep reaching."

-Ryan Eggold

I caught up with filmmaker Robin Hays for an interesting chat on film, animation, perseverance, taking risks to move forward in life, and more, as it applies to her newest short Post No Bills – which is her first animated project.

On an urban city wall plastered with posters, Noodle Boy must face his fears and make his way through a series of obstacles and challenges in order to save the beautiful Miss Fortune from the city's cleanup crew. Post No Bills is a delightfully uplifting animated short that projects an incredible message that everyone could benefit from, with incredible personality to boot.

The short has been making quite the splash at festivals. Post No Bills has been selected for; The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, TIFF Kids International Film Festival, Edmonton International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival and the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. This wonderful film has won best animated short film at The Burbank International Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival, the Studio City Film Festival, Sulmona International Film Festival and the Omaha Film Festival.

Hays is known for bringing her projects to life with verve, humanity and a cinematic sensibility. "E.T. was the first movie I saw in the theatre. Being so young I couldn't fully track the story although I remember how it made me feel. I love to take an idea and turn it into something tangible that evokes emotion and can be shared."

Her commercial work has been selected and showcased at festivals and award shows including; Shots Young Director’s Showcase in Cannes and The Shoot Young Director’s Awards in New York. She has worked with global brands such as Visa, Adidas, Honda, Nestle, Dannon, Pfizer and Lowes.

Robin teamed up with BAFTA nominated cinematographer Trent Opaloch to create the look and feel of Post No Bills. His credits include: District 9, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America Civil War and Infinity War. Longtime friend Andy Poon (Co-Director/Art Director) – who is an in demand art director on such properties as Stormhawks, Hotwheels and Slugterrawas instrumental in bringing Noodle Boy and Miss Fortune to life.

Robin Hays.

Enjoy the interview below.

Hello Robin and welcome to The 405! I'd like to start, if I may, by getting an idea of your history for our readers. What got you into film and animation?

Hi! Nice to meet you.

Likewise.

I'm a filmmaker from Vancouver. I went to film school straight after high school and came up in the art department on live action films and music videos. Then I got into producing shorts and directing commercials. Last year was a year of firsts. I directed my first feature and made my first animated film, Post No Bills.

Cool. Favorite films and directors? By that I'm wondering which you would consider most influential on you as an artist and story teller?

Ahhh, such a tough question.

[Laughs] yep. It's a big question.

So many. A few favs: Sicario from Denis Villeneuve, When We Were Kings by Leon Gast, The Place Beyond The Pines by Derek Cianfrance, Royal Tenenbaums, Isle of Dogs, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr.Fox all from Wes Anderson, Where The Wild Things Are from Spike Jonze, Nightcrawler by Dan Gillroy, Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola. I also really enjoyed Good Time by The Safdie brothers and A Ghost Story by David Lowery.

That's a great eclectic selection. Sicario and Nightcrawler are two of my favorites too. What makes a great film?

Totally subjective. That's what's so great about movies and art. We can have differing opinions and that's awesome.

Absolutely.

To me a great movie gets me out of my head and makes me feel. Whether that's tension, laughter, joy or sorrow it's amazing to me that films can evoke these emotions. If there's a takeaway and something that makes me think a bit, even better.

I couldn't agree more with that assessment. Getting into Post No Bills, I'm curious, where did the initial idea and inspiration come from?

I came up with the idea when I was in New York about ten years ago. It's based on the childhood concept that our toys come to life when we're not looking. I'm a big street art fan and thought it could be a fun little film. Although I didn't know anything about animation and let the idea sit… for ten years.

Noodle Boy and Miss Fortune in silhouette.

That's great how that worked out.

As someone with a background in graphic design and advertising (printing is my family business) one thing I found myself instantly attracted to in the film was the color scheme in each little section (different bill) that Noodle Boy jumps to. I'm wondering if we could get an idea of what the creative decision-making was like to get those colors so vibrant and real (as in real ad copy) but also keep it relevant to the film's narrative.

Glad you enjoyed the design. That was really important to us. We wanted the wall to feel as real as possible. Andy and I worked with a few graphic designers to make sure we had a different vibe to each the posters.

Fantastic job on that part. I also loved how Noodle Boy and Miss Fortune were imbued with such personality while saying nothing in the way of dialogue. What are some of the tricks there like, in getting the audience to really empathize with the characters the way you did?

That was one of the most important aspects of the film. If viewers didn't care about the characters the film wouldn't work. There's a whole backstory I created for both Noodle Boy and Miss Fortune. Although they don't speak we really wanted to be sure that their personalities came through. The animators did a great job illustrating their emotions without dialogue.

I agree. Yeah, it'd be tough to suspend our disbelief as an audience if we couldn't first empathize with the characters. What were some of the challenges on the project?

Honestly I was a bit nervous about getting into animation because all I've known is live action – although everything came together and we had such an incredible team at Atomic Cartoons to help bring this project to life. I'm very grateful. I also learned that I love animation and I can't wait to do more!

That's fantastic. We can't wait to see more! I also loved the ending. I'm struggling a bit with this question because I don't want to inject a spoiler as far as that goes, but what do you hope the audience will take with them from Post No Bills?

The ending is inspired by the fact that I let this idea sit for ten years because I was afraid of something I didn't know how to do. If I hadn't tried and faced my fears, this film wouldn't exist and we wouldn't be speaking right now. My hope is that the take away is to try something new, do something that scares you a bit because you never know what can happen!!

Noodle Boy.

I really liked that moral in the ending. So true.

Last, what is next for you?

I’m working on bringing the Post No Bills feature to life. There are some really fun new characters that I can’t wait to introduce!! And of course, more posters!

That'll be fantastic! Would love to see that.

I'm also finishing up my first live action feature - Anthem starring Cameron Monaghan, Juliette Lewis and Peyton List.

POST NO BILLS (2017).

POST NO BILLS from HAYS on Vimeo.