At this year’s Sundance Film Festival writer-director Jack Henry Robbins premiered his short Hot Winter: A Film by Dick Pierre. The project, which paid homage to the VHS tape era was an aesthetic challenge for Robbins, but it was probably a cakewalk compared to his first rate series Ultimate Ultimate.
The project, which Robbins describes as a “mockumentary that approaches EDM with love and humor,” centers on three acts who are prepping for an amateur DJ competition. Mr. P (John Palmer) is a high school teacher who inaccurately believes he’s as hip as his students, DJ Sparkle (Michaela Rose Haas) is an emotionally complex audio geek who’s prone to temper tantrums, and the BroCo are two frat guys (James Morosini, Nathaniel Salisbury) whose bond for one another is more than brotherly.
Robbins, who cites Christopher Guest’s body of work (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman) and The Graduate as cinematic influences, approaches his comedy in subtle fashion (wherein behavior thankfully trumps slapstick humor), and Ultimate Ultimate has a refreshing level of honesty amidst the laughter.
That level of honesty is also inherent in Robbins, as he’s candid about the project’s long and winding path. Originally sold to Comedy Central as a series, Ultimate Ultimate also landed on Spotify’s doorstep before finally finding a suitable home. “Funny or Die has been a really great partner and they’ve been really supportive,” says Robbins. “But the main thing was just to put it out on a public platform that people can go see. Having spent three years selling it and putting it in different places – it just got ridiculous. The more money that’s involved in something, the more people want to change it. Straight up. I love the project. I think it’s so original and well done – there are some really perfect moments there that I think that truly came about by (working with) the right people at the right time and (having) the right energy about it.”
Along with Ultimate Ultimate and Hot Winter, Robbins also directed Ghostmates for the YouTube Red platform and Opening Night starring Cheyenne Jackson. Though he’s the son of actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Robbins has carved out his own path in the entertainment industry thanks to a ton of hard work and talent. Writing is Robbins’ first love, and Ultimate Ultimate displays his knack for observational humor.
“I think every day is about waking up and being grateful but also being sharp,” said Robbins, who is set to direct another movie this summer. “At the end of the day the only person in my way is myself. There is no excuse not to keep making stuff.”
Ultimate Ultimate is now playing on Funny or Die.