FauxPop's Lobbs reflect on 'BlackBerry' editing, redefining a local industry
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
The buzz surrounding Matt Johnson’s upcoming film BlackBerry seemed as good an excuse as any to score a tour of Goderich’s most intriguing production studio, FauxPop Media. FauxPop handled all of the film’s post-production needs, but the company’s involvement with the film has been years in the making. The Citizen sat down with two members of the FauxPop team, Curt and Randall Lobb, to learn the origin story of this unusual collective of filmmakers playing by their own set of rules in an old building on the edge of town.
Prior to their work on BlackBerry, FauxPop Media and complementary company, Definitive Films were primarily known for making documentaries that delve into recent mythologies, from late 1980s, early 1990s sewer sensations The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Jim Henson’s cult classic The Dark Crystal.
From the outside, it is unclear whether the unique old building is even occupied, a hallmark of all good secret hideouts. Stepping through the dusty doors feels like a micro-miracle of time travel, as one enters a top-secret, high-tech facility decked out with everything the team needs to do its thing - an airy studio space with a set for presenting local news, a Bat Cave-esque editing suite filled with the screens and machines used to bring projects together, a sound studio for audio work.
There’s also a lounge for entertaining, a coffee bar with project-themed coffee beans, roasted by Bayfield’s own ShopBike Coffee Roasters. There’s no giant pole to slide down (at least not one visible to the public eye), but there is a wrought iron spiral staircase leading up to a turret/office, and that’s still pretty cool. This is the space in which all members of team FauxPop bring their own ingredients to their particular brand of cosmic gumbo. The walls of the editing suite are covered with art from their earlier passion projects - the framed poster for BlackBerry leans against a wall, waiting for its turn to be hung.
Curt and Randall Lobb share a set of grandparents (Randall is the eldest grandchild, Curt is the youngest) but they hold very different positions within the company. The third member of the team, absentee Mentat Mark Hussey, had completely different grandparents and was out for the day, but called several times during the interview from an undisclosed location, each time declining to comment.
The Lobb name is one of the area’s oldest, and the Lobb family is as much a part of Huron County history as the Wayne family is to Gotham City, but with more musical instruments and less being orphaned at a tender young age. Living in a place with deep-rooted family ties is something the Lobbs equate to a kind of superpower. “Here, if you go a day without seeing someone, it’s because you choose not to go out,” Randall explained. “Go out, and you’ll see someone, and you’ll know them, and they’ll know you, and they’ll have five things they think about you, and either it’s good and it gives you confidence or it’s bad, and you’ll bridle against it, and you’ll strive.”
Randall grew up in a very different technological world from the one in which Curt grew up. Randall saw the internet in its early stages as a possible force multiplier for all forms of media, and an exploder of possibilities for entertainment and education. In high school, Curt was writing, directing and starring in short, humorous videos and posting them online for his friends and family to enjoy.
Despite being small town relatives, it was not their blood ties that first brought the two men together professionally, but rather an enterprising young man named Isaac Elliott-Fisher. The oft-cited but never fully explainable interlocutor and cinematographer, referred to throughout the interview only as “Isaac”, was the essential component that put the two Lobbs on the path to working together. “I wasn’t aware of Curt’s burgeoning interest in film until he showed up one day with Isaac,” recalled Randall.
Another important figure in the evolution of the charismatic cousins - Central Huron Secondary School teacher Stephen Oliver. “Stephen Oliver cannot be underestimated,” extolled Randall. “He had a giant way of cracking something open to a place you can get into.” Curt concurred, remembering how Oliver’s popular Digital Media Studies course became a just-as-popular, unofficial after-school activity for him and other like-minded students. “I would spend my spare period learning how to edit… I didn’t realize it then, but that gave me a huge leg up later on.”
It was through Oliver’s mentoring program that Randall encountered Isaac, who arrived with claims that he had built his own jib and crane, and used them to film his own movie. A skeptical Randall was impressed when he saw with his own eyes that Isaac’s claims were true, and he knew the young man had what it took to succeed.
Somewhere along the lines, enigmatic mystery man Mark Hussey emerged from the literal shadows and told Randall that the two of them would someday be partners. This cryptic prophecy came true a few short years later when the two encountered each other at a bar where Hussey’s band was playing. Randall began producing Hussey’s music, which led to working as a team to edit local film projects. The partnership was a natural fit for both of them. Randall summed up their relationship poetically, saying “if he says to me ‘that sucks’ there’s no hurt feelings, and if I say to him ‘that sucks’, there’s no hurt feelings.” Inevitably, the pair began working with Isaac, who by that point was also assisting Curt in his student films.
In 2008, Randall, Hussey and Isaac began working on what would become 2014’s Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The project gained the approval of TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, who invited the team to stay in his soon-to-be-sold L.A. mansion while they worked. Curt went along on the trip. “It was cool to have that little taste of what was possible as a young kid,” he remembered.
Randall remembers staring out at the San Bernardino Mountains and offering some sage advice to his young cousin. “Don’t think it’s going to be like this, it’s not going to work, everything’s gonna suck, don’t listen to Isaac.” Curt took that advice back to Toronto, and soon after graduating fell in with director Matthew Johnson and the down and dirty collective that is the Zapruder Films gang. This quickly spiralled into Curt taking on harder gigs for Zapruder, bottoming out as a writer and producer of Vice’s Nirvanna the Band the Show.
When the pandemic forced Curt to uproot his editing set-up in Toronto, it seemed only natural to join forces with FauxPop Media, with the ever-supportive Zapruder Films group in tow. Randall and Hussey had long been impressed with Curt’s success doing things on his own, and all three of them believed in the flexibility of wearing multiple hats for an integrated workflow. Hussey and the Lobbs can work together as a unit, or individually.
All of this canonical backstory made FauxPop the natural choice to work on Johnson’s BlackBerry - a film about the rise and fall of Canada’s own Research in Motion (RIM). The team’s malleable structure was particularly useful during the editing of BlackBerry - Hussey put together a three-hour assembly cut together while Curt was busy with another project. Curt then took that rough cut and meticulously edited it into the final version of the film.
FauxPop Media’s current priorities are the same as they have always been - to do things their way, with their people, and to find success without losing track of why they started doing this in the first place.
If the Berlin premiere of BlackBerry is any indication, the week-long run of the film at Goderich’s historic Park Theatre is sure to be a great success, including a special screening with the film’s director and members of the FauxPop team on May 15. BlackBerry hits theatres across Canada on May 12.