We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelly and Jason Snellman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shelly and Jason, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As the founders of a company that exists in one of the most competitive and unyielding industries, one would think that we are confident risk-takers with nerves of steel. Truthfully, my husband Jason and I are anything but.
Starting with me, co-founder and producer at Robo & Bash Productions, risk is a bit of a scary word. For those of you who believe in the Zodiac, my sign says it all – I’m a Capricorn, the sure-footed sea goat, risk-adverse and cautious to a fault. I, like the goat who carefully travels up the mountain from sea to summit, will not take a step until I am certain that the next step is sturdy, free of loose rocks and sliding debris, and will almost assuredly not result in death and/or ruin. Jason, the better half of Robo & Bash, does not believe in any of this stuff but that’s okay. Jason is the visionary (ahem… Aquarius) and sees risk as an inconvenience, an inevitable roadblock that just has to be circumvented once in a while. Together, we gain strength from each other’s attributes and proceed with the caution of the goat (via research on trends/opportunities, budget necessities, etc.) and the optimism of a rainbow. We consider ourselves lucky to complement each other in this way because it has allowed us to move farther together than we ever could have done on our own. But even for others out there who lean one way or the other and don’t have a balancing counterpart, the real feat behind risk is knowing your comfortable limit and having the courage to move just beyond that. I always ask myself, “If I take this route, what is the worst thing that could happen?” If I’m at peace with the answer (or even on the edge), I move forward. But if I am not comfortable, I reassess and take it back to a point where I am comfortable. Everyone’s level is different and only the person making the decision can decide what that level is.
Before Jason and I started Robo & Bash Productions, we decided to put ourselves to the test. We gave ourselves a $2000 budget to create a parody music video “I Still Haven’t Found the Droids I’m Looking For”. We would deem this test successful if 1) we accomplished making something of which to be proud (a tall order for Jason, the film perfectionist) and 2) if it led to something tangible. Turns out we were able to creatively make a 5-minute video that was under budget and was worthy of Jason’s official stamp of approval. And though it wasn’t immediate, this video actually became our online “showcase” and prompted people to reach out to us for hire on their various projects. So, in our case, we took a $2000 risk and it paid off. But even if it didn’t, to us, the risk of not trying was greater than the risk of losing $2000. Since then, we’ve put greater and greater amounts of time and money on the line, each time asking “What is the worst that could happen?” So far, the risk of not trying has always been worse than trying, failing, and losing all; hopefully, this will always be the case.
What should our readers know about your business?
It is challenging to describe ourselves as a business. What we really see ourselves as is artists. We create for the love of creating. I personally live for the thrill of seeing out a vision from beginning to end. This might make me a weirdo but I love the planning process, rummaging through hundreds of tiny puzzle pieces and figuring out how they will all come together to create a complete picture. Is there anything more gratifying than placing that last piece in the puzzle and then stepping back to see the whole of your creation?! Jason’s love for creating stems from his adoration of visual storytelling and the rich history of film that proceeds him. He really comes to life on set, working with the talents of cast and crew and using his knowledge of film technique to tell provocative stories.
Our business began in April of 2018 so we’re only 3 years into our venture; we’re toddlers in a field of dreams dominated by money and power. The best we can do is use our experience as a starting point, grow our inventory and network, support our clients to the best of our ability, and continue to create works that inspire us and others. For a moment we thought the pandemic would end us. We had multiple projects lined up for the next year, one of which was slated to film on March 14, 2020, right when everything shut down. Well… that one, as well as everything else, got cancelled and disappeared. Would we have to start all over again? As it turned out, this down time gave us the perfect opportunity to slow down, finish our short film “A Blue Shroud” and push it through to the film festivals from which we are now hearing back.
I suppose the thing that sets us apart from others who are vying for the same goal is that we realize that we’re not perfect and that we don’t have everything figured out just yet. We are stumbling along and just doing our best. In the meantime, we’re truly very proud of all our work so far, especially “A Blue Shroud”, and we hope, if nothing else, we can share our work and its important message with a film-loving community who can perhaps give us a footing in our next project. If we had to choose a “brand”, I’d say that we’re vulnerable artists, imperfect yet passionate and hard-working, forever learning and forever grateful for our past and future partnerships with other artists.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We always love when someone visits us in LA because it gives us the chance to see our favorite places through new eyes. I would take our guest to a show at the UCB theatre on Franklin and then stop into Birds for a drink. I’d also share the vintage and boutique shops down Magnolia blvd. in Burbank and be sure to stop into Porto’s for their mouthwatering potato balls. Also, the Iliad bookshop in North Hollywood is a must for any lover of books. Next, we’d take our guest on a drive through the canyons and/or down PCH for those breath-stopping views and have at least one day at a Malibu or Oxnard beach for relaxation and fresh air. Of course, no visit would be complete without lunch or dinner at Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood, located in a strip mall on the corner on Melrose and Vine. I would also add in Beverly Soon Tofu down in Koreatown, but that tiny, inconspicuous (yet Anthony Bourdain approved) soul food spot closed in September 2020 thanks to the pandemic. I’m officially using this platform as a call to bring it back. LA misses you Beverly Soon!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The people that are most deserving of a shoutout are our supportive family, our cheerleading friends, and our ever-trusting clients. A big shoutout goes to Rachel and Robert Baxter of Well Liked Productions who gave us the opportunity to turn their hilarious “TV for Monsters” script into a webseries that is still by far the funniest project we’ve had the pleasure to create. Another shoutout goes to Issue1 Productions who allowed us to turn their micro-scripts into a series of micro-shorts, one of which is now getting into all kinds of film festivals and winning a crazy amount of awards! And how can we forget Rebecca Rose Phillips, the major wine influencer and star of “Let’s Taco Bout Wine”, who gave us her video production business as she set out to create her quirky brand of wine-loving expertise. And lastly, a huge shoutout to Isabel Wagner and James Lazo of Stonefarm Enterprises, who have kept us creatively afloat during the pandemic era as they buy and sell houses in their HGTV-style webseries “So Flipped”. It is clients like these that have allowed us to create our own passion projects, most currently our short film “A Blue Shroud” which premiered at the 2021 Garden State Film Festival, screened at the 2021 Micheaux Film Festival, and has racked up a few awards in various competitions. We hope to gain a few more official festival selections and awards throughout the next year. Fingers crossed!
Photo 1: Brandon Alan Smith in “A Blue Shroud” Photo 2: Telvin Griffin in “A Blue Shroud” Photo 3: Elizabeth Izzo in ‘143″ Photo 4: Kierstin Elyse in “Clare – Hijack series” Photo 5: Rebecca Rose Phillips and Brandon Lim – BTS “Let’s Taco Bout Wine” Photo 6: BTS – Shelly Snellman and Eddie Liu – BTS “Rope” Photo 7: Brandon Alan Smith in “A Blue Shroud” Photo 8: Hiroyuki Fukuda, Jason Snellman, John Roger Owen, Brandon Rendon Torres – BTS “A Blue Shroud”