Rob Innes is a filmmaker, producer and director. Recently, Rob and his business partners started their own development and production business called Mashup Pictures to make projects that they’re passionate about. Their first major project is “Busker Stories” featuring tales from Melbourne’s buskers.
Davi: Rob how did you first become interested in buskers and their stories?
Rob: I remember seeing one busker in Sydney who was very unique. He was an older man and he played some unusual instruments. I was fascinated by him and I thought, “Who is this guy? Why is he here at this spot. What’s his story?” This sparked the idea for Busker Stories. Buskers are such public performers and I was really curious to find out a little bit more about who the people were behind these acts. I think through this the public can better appreciate and understand how valuable and incredible buskers are.
D: Did you have busker friends before shooting this series?
R: No I didn’t have any busking friends before the series. I have always stopped and listened to buskers, but I was the only one watching and wondering about the person.
D: We’re there any surprises for you?
R: There were many surprises. We didn’t know when we first started that buskers had to audition before they were allowed to perform on Bourke St. Mall (the busiest strip in Melbourne). That was definitely a surprise. If busking wasn’t hard enough you then had to audition for it too! We were surprised when we met Luke in episode 2, we had no idea of what to expect and his story of being an extreme sports enthusiast was a really interesting contrast to his statue work.
D: How would you describe the busking culture in Melbourne?
R: There are many Buskers in the centre of Melbourne city. During pre-production and development of Busker Stories, we spent a lot of time listening to and watching different buskers in the city and then approaching ones we felt suited the show. Scott (co-director) and I hit the pavement for many hours and saw so many great buskers. From there we interviewed and met with many of the acts we saw, but could only choose a small number due to the limited episodes we could produce on our own.
D: Have you encountered certain buskers that you especially admire or are inspired by? If so, who and what about them inspires you?
R:I was really inspired by Tash in episode 1. She used her busking to grow her music and now sells out gigs all around Australia, and recently in Europe too. She’s been named Triple J (radio station in Australia) album of the week and her profile has really taken off. She’s incredibly talented and had a really great attitude about playing music on the street. She’s a good example of how busking can foster new music acts and musicians and is the sign of a healthy arts culture.
“We wanted to show that these performers are real people and that busking is a truly unique experience. We hope that through the series people will have a greater appreciation for the work behind each busking act.”
D: Beyond individual stories, are there certain themes or ideas that you hope to communicate through Busker Stories?
R:The key idea of Busker Stories is that there’s a huge variety of people that busk, and that the general misconception of buskers as lowly street performers is completely wrong. We wanted to show that these performers are real people and that busking is a truly unique experience. We hope that through the series people will have a greater appreciation for the work behind each busking act.
In Melbourne there’s a debate going on regarding buskers and amplified music. I believe that regulation and government enforcement is not the answer. People should be working together to find solutions to any concerns. Any time arts or music is censored or regulated it is not a good thing for democracy.
D: What do you think people ought to know about buskers? What skills or abilities can audience members take away from buskers and their performances?
R: I think people need to know that buskers come from many different backgrounds and have many different stories. A busking performance might look seamless on the street but this is only due to the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. It takes a lot of bravery to perform on the street and you need to be respectful of an artist’s space. I think audience members can look to buskers on the street and be inspired.
D:If you were a busker, what would your act be comprised of?
R:Unfortunately I have no music or performance ability. It’s why I stand behind the camera not in front!
To learn more about Rob’s series Busker Stories, click here.