There’s no shortage of talent in the Cranford-Westfield Area, but this is the first time I’ve met a local resident who directed a feature film with well-known actors! And lucky for us, his movie “The Eyes” will be showing this Wednesday, May 31st at 7:30 pm at the Rialto Theater in Downtown Westfield! c(Link to purchase tickets is at the end of this article.)
Robbie Bryan has been living in Westfield for the past 15 years with his wife, and has been working in the film industry for quite some time. He first caught the acting bug while attending Ryder University, where he performed “Godspell” his senior year. Robbie said, “An elderly woman came up to me after the play and said, ‘My husband passed away six months ago, and you made me laugh for the first time since then.’ That’s when I knew that this is what I have to do with the rest of my life.”
After college Robbie went to New York and acted for a decade, serving as a stand-in for Michael J. Fox in many of his movies, as well as for Elijah Wood and Woody Allen! Being on-set for hundreds of hours gave Robbie an education in filmmaking. He said, “I learned so much standing next to the camera, watching what to do and what not to do.”
Eventually Robbie realized he wanted to be a storyteller behind the camera. He was inspired by the auteurs of the 1990s such as Kevin Smith and Ed Burns. But it was only after an acquaintance of his made his own independent film that Robbie decided make a go of a filmmaking career.
“My wife Christie and I opened our company Good to Be Seen Films and made our first feature film in 1998 called ‘The Stand-In,’ based on my experiences as a stand-in for well-known actors. Kelly Rippa acted in it!” Since then Robbie has worked as a producer, director, and/or writer for six feature films and one short film about cancer.
Robbie was diagnosed with Stage 4 tongue cancer mid-production of “The Eyes,” and he underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiation. Robbie said, “In June 2015 I told my wife and the cast and crew that if my pet scan was clean, we would finish shooting right away, even though I wasn’t fully recovered. I got a second chance, and I want to live. We finished post-production at Skywalker Ranch, which was a dream come true for me, and the film won the Rhode Island Film Festival. ‘The Eyes’ officially premiered on April 7th in LA, and New Jersey is the 6th city where it’s being shown. Even though I’ve seen the movie what seems like thousands of times by now, I’m so excited to watch it in my hometown.”
As for the the movie “The Eyes,” it’s a taut psychological thriller starring several actors you will recognize, including Vinny Tastori from ‘The Sopranos’ (who might be visiting the Westfield premiere!!), Nick Turturro from “NYPD Blue,” and Danny Flaherty from “The Americans” (who also might make an appearance this Wednesday).
Don’t miss your chance to see this award-winning independent film and shake hands with the director Robbie himself! This is a one-time showing at the Rialto.
Tickets are available for purchase in advance through Fandago: