1. What is Bots High documentary about?
Bots High is a feature documentary that follows three high school robotics teams as they design, build, and compete with combat robots in a national competition. It’s math and science education in action, plus two of the three teams followed are all-girls teams.
2. Do you build robots as well?
I don’t, but if I knew programs like this existed in high school I definitely would have! But I hope when things calm down with the film I can compete in a future competition.
3. Tell us what inspired you to film the documentary?
I was a big fan of BattleBots when it was on TV, along with the other robot shows. A few years ago I stumbled on the national competition that was happening in my home town of Miami. I had thought robot battles died when the show ended, but clearly it was alive and well, and high school kids competed!
While the shows were great, they just showed the battles and didn’t really get into what went in to making the robots. I thought that would be an interesting story, especially when you’re in high school and have so many other things to worry about beyond just building a robot.
4. Why did you pick these specific teams?
I started off filming a lot of teams but focused on the ones in the film for a few reasons. Will and the Ransom team build incredible robots - sometimes so powerful they destroy themselves before destroying their opponent! My Mechanical Romance - Elizabeth and Danielle - were extremely passionate about robotics. Plus Lizzy is extremely loud and hilarious. And for the Mechanical Misfits I wanted a team that wasn’t so established and just getting started in robotics. Plus they’re really funny.
5. How do you think will your documentary foster robotics and engineering in schools?
I hope it gets kids excited by showing that there are really cool things you can do with that math and science ‘stuff’ you’re learning in school. Some of the problems with the current education system are the concepts taught are so abstract, you don’t see how you can apply it to real world applications.
Obviously fighting robots aren’t completely real world, unless we’re in a Mad Max society, but there are so many skills at play that are important, from the technical skills to more soft skills like teamwork, networking, and time management.
6. Where can audiences watch your film?
You can get the DVD on the website or watch it on the Worldwide Screening Day of October 6 - www.botshigh.com/freeday.
7. What prompted you to enable free screening of the movie on October 6?
The film was playing at some film festivals and independent screenings, but it was hard if I wanted a big blog to write about the film because where do I direct people to watch it? Plus I want the film to spread as far as possible. I figured a free screening day that I could direct everyone towards was the best way to launch the film. For a much more elaborate post explaining the story, you can read this blog post: http://coffeeandcelluloid.com/the-free-film-distribution-experiment/
8. Only a very small number of engineers are women. What do you think are some reasons women are so poorly represented in technological fields?
Yes, only 10%. I think they’re scared off at a young age, that science is portrayed as more of a “boys field” or you have to be a super nerdy girl to go into it. And once you lose them when they’re young it’s nearly impossible that they’ll switch into it.
I really hope the film can inspire more girls to consider science and engineering fields. Like I said, a lot of the teams are all girls, but these are girls who build robots during the day and go out and have fun at night.
9. What advice would you give young hobby cinematographers?
You can’t wait for someone to come along, hoping they’ll give you a bunch of money to go make a movie. You have to keep making projects yourself to get started. That was why I made this movie, to show what I can do and hopefully lead to bigger projects.
10. What are some of your projects you are currently working on?
I just finished a short called Space Miami on an abandoned rocket factory in the Everglades. You can watch it at http://www.coffeeandcelluloidproductions.com/projects/space-miami/
Still trying to figure out the next feature project to do (and find funding for it!)