Jackson Roberts

Growing up, Jackson was drawn to Science fiction stories and movies. He loved to imagine the future, to picture what the world could turn out to be. He enjoys making things with his hands, to make ideas tangible. Playing with Lego unlocked his creativity as a child, and he entered the field of animation for the first time by making Lego stop-motion.

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Dust Films


Q & A

If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?

I think the world of HOLLOW is a bit too bleak for me to want to actually live in, but if I had a chance to go live in Star Trek, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’ve always been interested in how humanity will advance in the far future, and If I could have replicators, transporters and warp-speed travel, then sign me up.

Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?

I’d say my favorite and most relatable sci-fi character would have to be Katie Mitchell from The Mitchells vs the Machines. Just everything about her family and what she’s going through reminds me so much of myself when I was just out of high school and couldn’t wait to move away to film school. And my spirit “animal” is Wall-E!

Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?

As long as it’s less Skynet and more Chappie, then they’re OK with me! As long as “Artist” is still the one job that will never be truly replaced by a computer, then I feel like I’ll be okay. So far, AI hasn’t really shown any signs of being able to replicate true creativity and imagination, and I (tentatively) don’t think it’s that overly optimistic to say that it never will.

In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?

I think Groot (fully grown in Guardians 1) would absolutely dominate on his own, but I’ll throw in a couple Na’vi from Avatar and Baymax from Big Hero 6. The Na’vi are obviously just built for height and agility, and Baymax’s soft, wide body could make for some great defense, especially if he had his kung-fu chip installed!

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

I have lots of bad ideas while I’m developing my stories. At one point in the development of HOLLOW, I thought it would be a cool twist for the bad guy to turn out to be an AI with a southern accent that tells the main character to “check your corporeal privilege.” It took my girlfriend to give me the harsh criticism I needed to snap me out of that one. That’s why I think the peer critique process is the most important part of any art form. You never know what insights an outside perspective will bring, so it’s good to get as many eyes on your work as possible!

Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?

I think I definitely get a lot of inspiration from the community and all the incredible artists working in sci-fi, but I do have times where I’m thinking about an idea or a project and forget to focus on what’s going on in front of me, almost like the present is too boring and I can’t wait for the future.

Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?

While almost all of my work is done entirely on the computer, I do try to spend as much time as possible not looking at a screen. I really hope that in the next few years, someone invents a monitor that’s healthy to look at for hours at a time so I don’t go blind before I retire!

When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

For visual inspiration, I keep folders of images I like from Artstation, Pinterest, and other places that basically form a library of design elements I can draw from. When it comes to sci-fi props, I always approach it like an engineer, totally function over form, until I come up with an optimal design that would realistically work the way it needs to. From there, I can start over from an artist standpoint, and create something that looks good based on the design that works well.

Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Star Trek, Philip K. Dick, Practical enhanced by CGI, Dystopia, and during/post apocalypse.