Billie Silvey
October 2006
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My son Robert LaRoe Silvey is one of the managers of
Cinefile, a video store located at the corner of Santa
Monica and Sawtelle, next door to the Nuart Theater in
West L.A..

Robert’s first job was at Video Archives, the rental
store in Manhattan Beach where Quentin Tarantino got
his start.
Robert was featured in an article in
Interview magazine
about video store clerks.

A film student at Santa Monica College, he worked as
production assistant to Production Designer Nelson
Coates on
Albino Alligator.  The independent
production was directed by the actor Kevin Spacey and
distributed by Miramax Films.  It was a short shoot,
mostly on one set with a small crew.  Robert enjoyed
watching stars Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway, Gary Sinise,
Viggo Mortensen, and John Spencer ply their craft up
close.

At Cinefile, he orders all the videos for the store and has
developed an encyclopedic knowledge of film.  Cinefile
specializes in obscure, foreign, and independent films.  It
caters to movie buffs, film students and major studios.
Robert is particularly skillful at calculating the films
particular people will enjoy.  He enjoys his job because
it involves a minimum of friction and drama as well as the
chance to work with “a good group of independent
people.�
I asked him the following questions about movies:
Q:  What do you personally like about movies?
A:  I like the escape, the window into another culture
or human being’s psychology or into the imagination
of the writer.
Q:  What do you look for in a movie?
A:  An excellent story stylishly told.  Movies have
supplanted oral history in today’s world.  I like an
original vision, a director who can tell something of
substance with style.
Q:  What do you look for in scriptwriting?
A:  The dialogue should have crackle.  It shouldn’t
be just like real life.
Q:  What about acting?
A:  While it’s fun to enjoy broad extemes, the best
part of acting is subtleties, complexities that reveal
undercurrents of character, even at odds with dialogue.  
Russell Crowe did it in
L. A. Confidential.
Q:  What makes a great director?
A:  Choosing cuts and shots.  The Japanese director
Takashi Miike can work in any genre.
Q:  What makes good production design?
A:  The set should look natural, as if it were the real
world. It shouldn’t create a disconnect. If the movie
is a fantasy, make art out of it.  The lighting and sound
mixing should all be done with a steady hand, creatively,
not the lowest common denominator.
Q:  What are some recent trends?
A:  Television has borrowed so heavily from movies
that, in a lot of ways, it’s surpassing them.  
Battlestar Galactica and Deadwood are good
examples.

The best shows come out on DVD to the extent that
that’s the fastest-growing section of the store.  Weâ
€™ve gone from three shelves of TV shows to 18 in a
year.  Just about every show ends up on DVD.
Interview with a
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