Interview With Robert Samuel McMahon Winner of Cinefern Film Award and Competition

Surviving the Notch 3 a Film Written, Directed and Produced by Robert Samuel McMahon won Best Cinematography award at Cinefern Film Award and Competition's November 2018.

Surviving the Notch 3 Poster

The Film is about After realizing someone is missing from the annual camping trip, the gang races against the clock to find answers before they too become victims.


Robert Samuel McMahon is an award-winning film director and sound designer. Often taking a non-traditional approach to the development of his films, he has proved to be an inspiring filmmaker. When McMahon was just eighteen years old, his film Surviving the Notch IIIwas featured at six film festivals across the nation, gathering three awards for excellence in artistry. His films combine drama and comedy to tell stories about the coming of age of today’s youth.

Interview With Robert Samuel McMahon

Q: What is the basic Idea Behind the film?

Robert Samuel McMahon: Surviving the Notch III was the third in a series of mockumentary films revolving around the camping experience of a group of friends. My goal was to blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction, almost to a point in which the viewer wouldn’t be able to tell what was planned and what was improvised. At this point in the series, there are many elements that are clearly planned sequences and plot point that are based entirely in fiction, but I wanted to stay true to the concept of making a fictional story that utilizes a non-fiction setting.


Q: How do you handle the Pre-Production, and Post Production?

Robert Samuel McMahon: Due to the nature of wanting a raw performance and pure creative motivation, we didn’t work with a screenplay or script. We had ideas of what would be interesting and how the story might go, but much of the structure of this mockumentary series came from post-production. The entire narrative was created in the editing phase.


Q: What do you do to stay calm during Production of the film?

Robert Samuel McMahon: At this point in the series, the cast and crew had found their groove. We all knew what segments and ideas would be believable and fun, so shooting the film was a really great time. It felt less like creating a film and more like creating a skit with all your best friends.


Q: What sort of stories excites you?

Robert Samuel McMahon: I like stories that seemingly follow traditional paths but “de-rail” at some point. I like seeing basic story structure and patterns get flipped upside down. I think I just like to be surprised by the decisions that filmmakers make in their stories.


Q: Do you think all the good stories have already been made into a movie?

Robert Samuel McMahon: No, I think there will never be a time when all “good stories” have been made. If you analyze any story deep enough, you’ll find connections and similarities with other pre-existing stories. The magic of good storytelling is telling the same story in a completely new and exciting way.


Q: While casting for your film you prefer to cast a well known face or any new face which fit the character?

Robert Samuel McMahon: I prefer to cast actors who fit my characters the best, though I have a pattern of creating characters based off actors and people I know. This often leads to me casting familiar faces as I know their capabilities and strengths.


Q: What is the most enjoyable thing about Production of the film?

Robert Samuel McMahon: The most enjoyable thing is seeing an idea that has been trapped in your mind for months – maybe years – and seeing that idea come to life. It never translates directly, but it’s truly breathtaking to see your creative vision come to life.


Q: What is the best possible way to promote your film when you are on a tight budget?

Robert Samuel McMahon: Social media is the best way to promote on a budget. Getting the word of your film out there is so important. It’s all about confidence and professionalism. Nobody will care about your film as much as you do, so it’s imperative to be able to advertise your project to the widest audience possible.


Q: When your next film is coming and what is it about?

Robert Samuel McMahon: Currently, I am in between writing a few films. My creative workflow relies less on habit and more on unpredictable bursts of energy. Hopefully, production will start this year or next.


Q: What advice do you want to give to the new and upcoming filmmakers?

Robert Samuel McMahon: My advice is to just create films. It sounds cheesy because it is. I made many films before I started receiving any type of recognition. Many projects of mine have not and will not see the light of day, but the practice and techniques used have stuck with me. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

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