Positive Productions: An Interview With Up and Coming Filmmaker Rob Grieb

Rob Grieb. Photo: Molly Goldrick

Rob Grieb. Photo: Molly Goldrick

“Rob Grieb is a fiercely focused master of his own destiny. Born with the passion to capture the moment, Rob has built a professional cinematic career following his dream with his camera in hand. With experience from across the map, Rob knows what it takes to turn ideas into reality with the twist of his own unique touch…”Jack Mitrani (Entrepreneur/Cinematographer/Professional Snowboarder)

A free-spirited wild man, perpetually flying the soul craft as he manifests his calling as an expressive visual virtuoso, a sui generis being in a sea of the homogenized, this is Rob Grieb as I’ve come to know him.

Growing up on a steady diet of surfing, skating, snowboarding, and musical love and creation, while attaining a talent for all the aforementioned pursuits, his highest path is that of a filmmaker. It’s on this personal passage that his love for boardsports and savory sonic delights can coalesce in the artistic medium of film.

I recently sat down with Rob to pick his brain on his creative endeavors. Read on and take note, as I see a bright future ahead for this young imaginative filmmaker.

Zappo: What was your childhood like and where did you grow up?

Grieb: My childhood was great. Growing up by the beach, especially at the Jersey shore, teaches you about change and the seasonal differences. Like most kids in this area, my childhood consisted of a lot of time at the beach surfing, flirting with girls, skating with all of our friends for hours upon hours, and playing a lot of soccer. I grew up with a large family, so at any given time I was surrounded by about a dozen cousins and friends. My mother never really let us sit inside and play video games and looking back, I am really grateful for that.

Dave "Fundip" McGillis pulling into a thick backside tube in New Jersey. Photo: Rob Grieb

Dave “Fundip” McGillis pulling into a thick backside tube in New Jersey. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: Tell me a bit about how you got into skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. Have these pursuits always been a huge part of your life. Out of the three is there one that you enjoy the most?

Grieb: I have to credit my cousin Kate and her boyfriend at the time (now husband) Brian for getting me into skating. During the summer, I would spend a lot of time with my cousin, Conor, while his sister would babysit us. We would always hang around Brian and his friends watching them skate homemade ramps and rails. It wasn’t too long before they found us taking their boards to skate. Eventually we had to get our own. At about this time, I was hanging a lot in the summer with the Mitrani’s (a couple boys from Vermont) and a bunch of Squan kids like Vallario, Sharples, and the Pospisil’s. By then we were all learning and getting better. I think I really began to progess when I started spending time at the Asbury Casino Skatepark (R.I.P) watching a lot of the older guys like Donny, Lou and you (Zappo) shred the park. I’ve been riding all over the coasts ever since. I grew up surfing most my life and snowboarding as well. All three of these are equally important to my lifestyle. Board riding in general has been there through the years for me and will continue to be. It’s hard to say which is the most important, but if I had to pick, I’d probably want to get stand up barrels the rest of my life.

Rob Grieb can get busy in front of the camera as well. Making use out of the debris Hurricane Sandy left behind. Photo: Jacqueline Marie

Rob Grieb can get busy in front of the camera as well. Making use out of the debris Hurricane Sandy left behind. Photo: Jacqueline Marie Tozzi

Zappo: How did you get into doing film work and have you had any formal training?

Grieb: Throughout my childhood, skateboarding was my first muse to filmmaking. As I got a little older, my friends and I would constantly be searching and going on trips to NYC or Philly to skate and film. I feel that this constant search for spots and trying to emulate video segments we watched to get hyped is where I began to craft an eye for motion imagery. We would take mini trips to NYC and skate and film little movies. Nothing ever came from these videos other than our pure enjoyment, but the roots of film for me definitely came from skating the streets of NJ, NYC and Philly.

Then while I was living in California, the Mitrani brothers (who turned into professional snowboarders) asked if I was able to go on a short trip to Mammoth to film. That trip started a long-lasting relationship with those guys traveling, filming and creating entertaining cinema. Alongside of Jack Mitrani, we started Frendsvision, a website to broadcast the professional talents of these snowboarders and pure comedic personalities that they all had. So while traveling, Jack and I would film and edit but also put ourselves through “schooling”…learning more and more editing/filming techniques to help build our craft. After a few years, I moved back to New York and began doing production work as a utility/media manager for a few companies and this is where I learned a lot about professional studio production and camera operating on bigger sets. There is so much to learn onset, I’m still learning today and everyday I can.

Lindsay Perry. Photo: Rob Grieb

Lindsay Perry. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: Do you think with all the various ways people share films online that it has devalued the art form?

Grieb: With all the sharing on the internet these days great art may sometimes be overlooked. As far as “devaluing the art form” I don’t think that that’s possible or that it has stopped the creative process at all. If anything it’s a lot harder these days to get recognized, and it pushes you to keep grinding and getting your work out there. I’d say that social media not being curated by the artistic hand definitely makes the internet a big washing machine at times, but if you’re interested in art and culture, you can definitely get past the bullshit and find real art or inspiration right at your fingertips.

When Dan McGillis isn't charging heavy waves in Mexico and Hawaii, he can be found braving the harsh winters of New Jersey. Photo: Rob Grieb

When Dan McGillis isn’t charging heavy waves in Mexico and Hawaii, he can be found braving the harsh winters of New Jersey. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: You’ve done quite a bit of traveling and worked with some noteworthy companies over the last few years. Tell us some of the places you’ve been and who you’ve worked with on film projects?

Grieb: Most notably the storm footage from Sandy was originally shot for Brad Kremer’s film, “The Storm Soldiers Movie” which is currently in film festivals and doing well. I was given credits as “Second Unit Cinematography”. During the filming for that, I told Brad when he hired me that, one, I had to split my time between filming, working, and getting by (as I was homeless due to the storm) and, two, I would be working separately on a personal project. The filming for both consisted of 5 a.m. wake up calls to trek to areas that were hit the hardest with my good friend and photographer, Cole Barash. New Jersey at the time was in shambles from Sandy, and our journalistic approach getting to these areas “no matter what” to get the shot gave all the footage such an important value to me. That time of my life in general was so memorable. The short narrative documentary called, “A Storm to Remember” received some good hype in New Jersey. Eventually partnering up with “Shore United Relief Foundation” (S.U.R.F), they showed the documentary at a few events to raise money, one of which we presented to over two dozen families in dire need from the Mantaloking area with a combined check of $86,350. The Organization is the first non-profit organization to give directly back to citizens and communities affected from the storm and has gone on to raise so much more money for NJ communities in their effort. Recently I’ve shot a few shorts for Billabong women’s with the lovely Lindsay Perry and have been shooting the music festival the “Friendly Gathering” since its curation about five years ago. Over the past couple months, I have been working with Relapse Fashion Magazine in NYC and camera operating for Michael Andrews Audio Visual (MAAVS) in NYC.

New Jersey is a place for the hardcore. Broken wrist surfing with Fundip. Photo: Rob Grieb

New Jersey is a place for the hardcore. Broken wrist surfing with Fundip. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: It seems like these days there are a lot of people doing film work, specifically film shorts and freelance work for larger umbrella companies. What do you think is the key to success in this field and what sets your work apart?

Grieb: I think the key to success is to never stop grinding. You have to be hungry. You have to want to go out there, search and find the inspiration and work you like to do. Also creativity isn’t a job…it’s a gift, so creating your own work and constantly building your craft is the best thing to do. Go out there with an open mind and get creative, collaborate! I believe being well rounded in different areas of cinema is also a strong attribute, which is what I try to portray through my work: an array and diversity of genres and styles both raw and premeditated . Showing that I can create from an idea to finished product. Film, direct and edit. All along being an integral part of the creative process.

"Larry" busting a boneless into a southwest ditch. Photo: Rob Grieb

“Larry” busting a boneless into a southwest ditch. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: What are some of your upcoming projects and plans? What does the future hold?

Grieb: I have a few different projects in the works at the moment, and I am really looking to increase my clientele, getting involved with some specific companies I have wanted to work with for a while. As for now, my eyes are wide open, hungry and ready to make some creative cinema for the whole world to see.

Read between the lines. Photo: Rob Grieb

Read between the lines. Photo: Rob Grieb

Zappo: Any last words or thoughts?

Grieb: Stay hungry, listen to Bad Brains and keep that P.M.A! Shout out to my boy Cole Barash for the guidance and inspiration. Peace.

Rob Grieb 2014 “Motion Reel”:

Frendly Gathering 2013:

To see more of Rob’s work, go here: http://positiveproductions.us

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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