Talking Panda’s or Glitzy Cannes Parties… its all in a days work for Barrington Paul Robinson.
Moving into our orbit whilst making “Hallo Panda”, it’s been delightful for Kirk Originals to witness the swift rise and ongoing advance of one of our favourite characters, film producer, Barrington Paul Robinson.
Charming, erudite and bouncy, with a knowing, self effacing wit, Barrington’s natural humour and style seem suited to and even enhanced by Kirk Originals’ eyewear. As his “rollercoaster” production career has moved upwards from music promos to developing features, his engaging manner and passionate charisma have seen him named as one of Screen International’s Stars Of Tomorrow and as a “Breakthrough Brit”, sent to LA on a UK Film Council funded promotional jaunt.
Having quit a city finance background to pursue his passion for film, Barrington cut his teeth producing music videos for Pendulum, Art Brut, Mr Hudson and Razorlight and his enthusiastic personality soon found him raising funding for short films. Making “Free Speech” a two hander on modern London relationships for which Barrington landed the then breaking Danny Dyer in 2004, he followed this with 2006’s “Death Of The Revolution”, a sparklingly intelligent treatise on modern politics set in a junior school.
It was the Channel 4 screened and critically lauded “Hallo Panda” that brought Barrington and Kirk Originals together. A light comedy about the romantic travails of an American zoologist in London whose best buddy is a talking Panda bear, “Panda” elicited a fabulous response, not only down to the susceptibility of the British public to anything featuring large, fluffy, cute Panda Bears.Preparing the script, Barrington realised that all the characters required quirky, individualistic eyewear and “having stalked Kirk Originals for years”, he jumped at the opportunity for an “in”. “The director told me that all the lead characters wore really great glasses so I tracked down Kirks and when they were up for it, I was really, really flattered.”Taking “Panda” to the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007, by then the smooth talking Barrington had already started to snaffle Kirk Originals eyewear for himself to immediate effects. “I was labelled the best sunglasses in Cannes with my Sunshine Vaughan’s and was photographed everywhere. I felt like I was never gonna be able to take them off ‘cos no-one would have paid attention to me if I wasn’t wearing them. They definitely got me into places that I wouldn’t have been able to get into without the glasses.”
So as we touch base again with Barrington, he is, as ever, a whirlwind of completed productions, upcoming productions and the staple, “several projects in various stages of development”. Following “Panda”, Barrington produced another short, “Player” directed by Mary Nighy (daughter of Bill Nighy) for which a stellar cast of Celia Imrie, Pete Postlethwaite and Haydyn Gwynne was assembled. Coming off this. he moved onto “The Heroes Journey” with Secret & Lies’ Phyllis Logan in the lead which was screened at last summer’s Edinburgh Film Festival. Notably both films are also in competition at prestigious festivals like Raindance, Bristol’s Encounters and The Leeds Film Festival.
An astute producer, Barrington understands the value of attaching marquee names to productions in order to get noticed. It always helps casting well known actors especially when you go back to the agent. If the short’s done anything they’re more likely to let you play with their other clients. That was part of the game-plan from back with “Free Speech” and Danny Dyer. We wanted to let people know that we could cope with name actors and can treat them accordingly, so hopefully they’d keep sending them to us.” The strategy appears to be working with stronger casts, companies and production houses getting behind Barrington’s upcoming projects. Next up would appear to be his London underworld, “Jerry Bruckheimer moment”, “The Debt / The Greed” (working titles), a murky Robin Hood inspired allegory of the relationship between coppers and villains and he’s also attached as a producer to an upcoming, heavyweight film noir, “Box”, a tale of an alienated Australian boxer coming to terms with London inner city living which takes shades of “Sunset Boulevard” and “Touch Of Evil”, relocating them to the English metropolis.
Yet Barrington’s main focus is currently a British take on the “High School Musical” phenomenon, “Chance To Dance”, a project attracting considerable heat due to its international prospects. “We’re trying to make the story authentic so alongside the dance, we can build in great drama and relevant characters. That’s one of the key selling points, to make sure it retains an edge.”“Chance To Dance” has already proved a calling card for Barrington and having pitched it to the UK Film Council earlier this year, it led to him being named as one of the “Breakthrough Brits”, being sent on an all expenses paid, networking trip to LA with the cream of British ethnic minority actors, writers and producers.
“It was my first time in the States. The hotel, “The London West Hollywood” had just opened with Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant and David Beckham la la la but we were too busy with our stuff. We wound up meeting a lot of useful people in the industry. We went to Warners, Fox, all of the studios and the carpet was really rolled out for us.”
And where Barrington goes, his Kirk Originals accompany him. Having been selected for LA, he returned to the Covent Garden store to add that stylish flourish for his Stateside cinematic adventure.
“Kirk Originals kindly arranged for me to get a pair of sunglasses for LA and I got this amazing pair, more glitter obviously, the new Sunshine Jean, I was getting stopped in the street, people asking me where the glasses came from.“I wore them all the time I was over in LA, at all my meetings. I never left home without them. I was sitting there in my Silver Jean Sunshine shades, looking all London, literally just taking it in so that was great.“I think Kirk Originals have almost become like my trademark now. Them and the hair, I’m pretty much sold on that. They’re both going to stay I reckon.”
Words: James Masters