Director Aaron Truss and Producer Colin Knox on the Emotions of “(K)nox: The Rob Knox Story”
by Elizabeth Grace · Published · Updated
Watching (K)nox: The Rob Knox Story feels like my heart’s being ripped to pieces: There isn’t a moment when raw emotions aren’t gushing out of the film. It’s only 50 minutes, but it feels like 31 years’ worth of emotions: 18 joyous years of the Marcus Belby actor’s tremendously bright life, followed by 13 years of trauma and grief. When I interview director Aaron Truss and producer Colin Knox over Skype, the emotions hang in the air ever so delicately, punctuated here and there by jokes and technical issues, as they walk me through the journey of creating the documentary.
“I was so moved by what [Truss] was trying to direct and portray,” Knox tells me. “Every time he said to me, ‘Well, how was it?’ I said, ‘Sorry, mate, you made me cry again.'” It’s not hard to see why: The film constantly weaves in authentic footage of Rob – the incredibly personal kind that usually stays hidden in the depths of video collections, or in this case, Knox’s attic – to celebrate Rob’s larger-than-life personality. At times, it’s the infectious energy that he radiates when he’s mucking around with his brother or friends. Otherwise, it’s the exuberant confidence that he brings onto any set, even if it’s a budget zombie project shot in a supermarket.
I’m still watching Rob being alive, playing with his brother, writing his name on a beach in America. I can see my son moving, breathing, talking, and that was hard.
Reliving a son and a childhood friend’s memories wasn’t always painful for Knox and Truss, respectively. The first-time feature film director shares that there was a “surreal feeling” of seeing Rob come alive once again.
I know that made Colin happy. I know it made me happy seeing it all again. […] There wouldn’t be a day that went by that entire year, I didn’t hear Rob’s voice, and it honestly felt like he was in the room with me doing this, guiding this story.
That didn’t make the process any easier for him, though, because his job required him to put aside his emotions to conduct the documentary’s interviews objectively, “which is in itself a very hard thing to do because I knew Rob. I loved Rob. Still do,” Truss adds. In the most harrowing scene of the documentary, Jamie, Rob’s brother, and his friends recall with excruciating detail Rob’s murder and vulnerably take us into their thoughts and emotions that night. It’s a painful scene for me to sit through but an even more painful scene for Truss to film.
I’m on the other side of the camera, and I’m asking them to bare their soul, and I’m asking them to revisit probably the most horrific time in their life. […] Sitting with them was a revelation, especially with Jamie, who did bare his soul on camera for us and took us through the night step by step. It was needed to tell the story.
With all the deep emotional weight that the documentary carries, I wonder whether Knox ever thought that he wouldn’t be able to finish the film. “No,” he answers definitively. “If it moved me, [the documentary]’s working. If I wasn’t moved by it, it wouldn’t be working.”
It’s been a long three-year production journey fraught with blood, sweat, and (literally) tears. Has it worked? Definitely. The film humanizes the devastating personal cost of knife crime far more powerfully than any expositionary lecture ever could. But what has been the most rewarding part for Knox and Truss? “This is from the heart,” the latter says, with a genuine sincerity that leads Knox to make a heart shape across our Skype call.
It’s also brought me closer to Rob in many ways because I’ve learned so many more things about Rob after his passing than I did when he was around. It kind of feels like I’ve reconnected with Rob, and I’ve gained a closer friend with Colin, for sure.
As for Knox, it’s always been about honoring Rob’s legacy.
Aaron has come to a point where I wanted the documentary to be. […] He has done a remarkable job. So my conclusion is, I’m happy, totally happy, with what Aaron has achieved.
Transcribed by Adam Leuenberger and Marissa Osman
Elizabeth Grace Ho: Hi everyone. My name is Elizabeth, and I'm a journalist and content editor with the MuggleNet team. We're really grateful and thankful for you taking time off to conduct this interview with us. Personally, I have watched the documentary and I'm really impressed by it. I was completely blown away by it especially because around this time next year I will be an Asian, female immigrant in the UK. So this is definitely an issue that resonates deeply with me. The first question that I'm going to start with is for both Colin and Aaron. What were some of the greatest challenges for both of you when you were making this documentary?
[Transcriber's note: The response to this question did not record properly. Audio is nonexistent between 00:01:22 and 00:06:18.]
Colin Knox: I was so moved by what he was trying to direct and portray. Every time he said to me, "Well, how was it?" I said, "Sorry, mate, you made me cry again." The challenging part wasn't so much the emotion. Emotion wasn't challenging me. It was the way I was receiving what Aaron had gone through and produced. So the challenging part, for me, on the earlier rendition that we'd done prior to Aaron was, oh my God... I spoke to a lady at the BBC; her forté was documentaries. We spoke for an hour. I listened for 55 minutes, took in what she said, and that's when I passed it over to Aaron. And after that, it was still challenging because we had things to get signed off, didn't we Aaron?
[Aaron makes a noise of agreement]
Colin: Challenging, yes, for a late person. But I think the combination of what I wanted, who I brought in - Aaron Truss - the people he got surrounded by, the people that he brought in, and every one of those people stepped up and didn't ask for one penny for whatever they put into the documentary, and that is just absolutely fantastic. I'm totally moved by it, to be honest.
Elizabeth: Earlier on you talked about how the documentary was very emotional for you, and I certainly can understand why. At any point in the documentary process did you think that this is too emotional and it wasn't something that you were going to see through to the end?
Colin: No. For a simple reason. If it moved me, it's working. If I wasn't moved by it, it wouldn't be working. I had to deal with my emotions because I've lost my son and every time I keep on seeing my son alive in parts of the documentary, I have to watch the whole thing. I'm still watching Rob being alive, playing with his brother, writing his name on a beach in America. I can see my son moving, breathing, talking, and that was hard, but it's a process that... If that never happened, I don't think the documentary would have been in the right place. In my opinion, now, it is in the right place.
Elizabeth: And so, for Aaron, throughout the documentary process you also interviewed a lot of Rob's friends as well as his brother. I'm sure it must have been a very emotional process for them as well. How did that interview process go, and how did you treat these interviews with the emotional nuance that is required to broach such a sensitive topic?
Aaron Truss: The thing about directing a documentary and conducting these interviews, you have to take yourself out emotionally. Which is in itself a very hard thing to do because I knew Rob. I loved Rob. Still do. I have to be a little cold and clinical with it because I need to make sure I'm not influencing Jamie, his friends, things like that. It has to be very raw, very visceral, it has to come from them. I didn't want to rub off on them at all in any way. So when I sat down with Jamie and I sat down with Rob's friends, especially his friends who were there that night, that was extremely hard. I'm on the other side of the camera, and I'm asking them to bare their soul, and I'm asking them to revisit probably the most horrific time in their life, and I'm friends with Jamie as well. I'm friends with a lot of Rob's friends these days now. But I've never really had the bravery to sit down with them and just casually ask, "What actually happened that night?" It's been an elephant in the room for many years and, in this capacity, I suppose I was able to sit down and just start from scratch. "Tell me all about it." A lot of Rob's friends didn't want to talk to me because they're still suffering from the trauma of it all. That's understandable; I'm not going to force anyone to speak to me, but sitting with them was a revelation, especially with Jamie, who did bare his soul on camera for us and took us through the night step by step. It was needed to tell the story. Jamie knew this. Rob's friends knew this. They knew that if they were going to speak to me, and speak directly into the camera, that it wouldn't work without them. And the same goes for everyone who Rob worked with like Jim Broadbent who played Horace Slughorn and Tom Felton. They were absolutely incredible and they didn't hold anything back either about - as Colin would say - the light side of it, his time with Harry Potter. That was absolutely incredible and Harry Potter, for us, has opened a lot of doors that wouldn't necessarily be opened to either myself, or my team, or the Rob Knox Foundation. For example, one of the hardest things we had to do on the documentary was I had a phone call from my cousin Alex who had been to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and he said, "You know if you go to Ollivander's on the tour they've got all these wand boxes everywhere and it's got all the names of all the cast and crew who have participated in the movies." And he said, "You know Rob's name is there?" And I said, "Really?" He said, "Yeah. It's on a wand box." And he sent me a photo. I looked at it and I thought, "Wow, I wonder if we can get in there." I've got a bit of a fantasy moment where I'm like, "They'll never let us just shut Ollivander's down just for us." After a few weeks of emails with David Yates and his team and speaking to the Wizarding World, they granted us a Sunday morning, I believe it was before the tour even opened. They had the shutters down and everything. They let us have one hour in Ollivander's to shoot what we wanted. We didn't go through the tour, we went behind the scenes. It was incredible, and I don't think they did it for us. I think they did it for Rob. We were there with Jamie and the scene was, "I just want you to go in, Jamie, and I want you to look at Rob's wand box." It was very hard to do because, yeah, it's really cool that we get to go to the tour, but at the same time, this is something very personal to Jamie, and I'm asking him to bare his soul again. It's not acting. I don't have to go, "Feel like this." No. I'm just sending Jamie in there, and he's going to look at the wand box. It was an incredibly emotional moment for everyone, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. In the end, they gave us free passes to the tour, and I think Jamie and his fiancé went on a tour of the Harry Potter studio, so that was very nice of them.
Elizabeth: I really loved that scene that you just mentioned, with the Ollivander's because that's actually on the Rob Knox poster. That scene where he looks at the wand boxes. Before watching the documentary, I looked at that poster and I was wondering what he was looking at. I thought he was looking at a cast list of everyone who worked on Harry Potter. So when that scene came out and it was actually the wand boxes and with the wand being such a big part of that Harry Potter journey, I think it just hit me very emotionally. That brings me to my next question of how did you guys get in touch with all of these Harry Potter actors and what was it like working with them on this documentary?
Aaron: Well, a little-known fact about all of us in Britain, myself, Colin, we all went to Hogwarts. So we all know each other. I think Colin was in Slytherin. I was Hufflepuff. No, I'm joking. I wish.
Aaron: In the very early stages, I approached David Yates through Colin. Colin, who will tell you in a sec, there is a bit of a history with three David's and Colin and the foundation but when we got in touch with David Yates and told him we were working on a project about Rob, it didn't take much persuasion on David's part to give us a helping hand. He sat with us in his office in Leavesden. We interviewed him about Rob and ever since then he's been sort of a minor instrumental key in getting through several doors involving Harry Potter, and he's been incredible. He was the one who suggested Jim Broadbent sit with us obviously because of the Slughorn dinner scene. And we spent a day with Jim, who was so humble and so lovely, and he had nothing but lovely things to say about Rob and his time working with him. The same as with Tom Felton, he was more than happy to speak to us. He was the last person to be involved interview-wise with the documentary, and it was almost like he almost missed the train, but luckily, he didn't. He jumped on board. He shot his interviews based on how we'd done it because he wasn't in the country at the time. And we were sent all these files from Tom Felton and his agent, and he'd done it all for the documentary. It was beautiful. In many ways, we've got to take our hats off to David Yates.
Colin: I'll back that up because you mentioned three Davids. We had two services for Rob when he passed and the second one the church was packed with 500 people I think. And then on the wings on the right were the three Davids. I went over there and thanked them for turning up to represent Warner Brothers, Harry Potter, especially Half-Blood Prince. They were so lovely and supportive and they gave me the outtake video of anything Rob was involved in. So that's a special prize we were given at an earlier date. And coming out of the church I was speaking to Rupert, Rupert Grint and I wanted to say to him "thank you, for being my son's friend and coming to pay your respects." Unfortunately, the media had a [inaudible] and decided to break the corner and run towards Rupert halfway through my conversation with Rupert and he ran for his life away from the paparazzi. I think that was awful, an awful thing to do. But I got nothing but praise for David Yates. Going to Leavesden, as Aaron mentioned, and being in his office, and holding his BAFTA award... [laughs] I've been quoted as saying an Oscar is not as big as a BAFTA. It was very heavy. I'm so proud of him. But the guy, even in the documentary, said so many lovely words. And Jim Broadbent, when you hear someone speaking highly of your son, in their profession, which is an acting profession. And the fact that Rob around that I think was it called the Slughorn supper?
Elizabeth: Slug Club.
Colin: That's it, Slug Club. Well, it's around the title and I've got something to say about a couple of things. Rob is such a confident person even around that table when he messed his lines up. I know the demographic for MuggleNet is the age between 14-30. I'll say when Rob messed his lines up, when he came up with those expletives I just laughed my head off because everyone around that table laughed as well because they thought it was a humorous moment. But some guys might be sort of in awe of the characters around him and wouldn't have done that. But Rob was such a confident person, he just let things fly. As a father, it shouldn't be that humorous, but because he's old enough to be a man I appreciated his humor in getting through a very sticky moment. And there was something else I was going to mention and I forgot what It was now. [laughs]
Elizabeth: Well if you remember it again you can mention it.
Colin: Oh yes, I know what it is. For your listeners, you can actually through competition after them. A competition. Around that table there are so many retakes, how many profiteroles did Rob have to go through? They kept on topping his bowl up.
Elizabeth: That's a good idea. I remember a quote from David Yates or Jim Broadbent where they told Rob to pace himself and don't eat and he just kind of going on at it, and at it, and at it again.
Colin: They both referred to that. So just to get your audience interactive with MuggleNet is to say, how many profiteroles? So this is not a lie, I can tell you, it was 32.
Elizabeth: I was amazed by those outtakes because I had previously thought it was quite a simple scene. And then you see all the outtakes and you realize how much effort goes into something as small as that. And also because that's probably one of the scenes where there are so many actors and their personalities coming out. And it's not just the golden trio that we often see on the screen and we often focus on and so that was nice to see even if it was a lot of rock swearing that just injected so much fun into it.
Colin: He doesn't swear, he uses expletives. But the thing I think why you saw so many takes of that is because there is a close-up of each character so they go through the line again and again and again, so there's a repetition. I think Aaron knows what I'm talking about, he's a director I'm not. Cut, go again, cut, go again, cut, go again.
Elizabeth: On the note of Harry Potter, I think one of the things that are a recurring theme throughout all the interviews is Rob's personality. And Rob's personality shines out in one way through the behind-the-scenes footage that you guys got from all the video cameras, from all the phone footage. So how did you guys decide what to put into the documentary and what to cut out of it? And what was the important footage that you wanted viewers to see in the documentary?
Aaron: What I thought it was very important to get across was Rob the person but also what Rob was like as an actor. We talk a lot about him in Harry Potter and we see him as Marcus Belby. But when we see this footage of him conversing with his co-stars and we see him fluffing lines in Harry Potter. It just shows you exactly what, not just what Rob goes through, but probably what Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint and everyone had to go through, and finding that right balance was extremely important. We gained access to Rob's audition tape. But unfortunately, we weren't allowed to use it. But it's we've seen it and it's just a great insight to who he was, you know, it's essentially a job interview isn't an audition and Rob wasn't nervous. Rob was very confident, very cocky. He wasn't going for Marcus Belby. At the time, he was going for McLaggen. And it's very interesting watching that back, but, especially having Tom Felton there to break up and Jim to talk about what he was like as an actor. We found that right balance but almost everything that we were able to acquire of Rob on Harry Potter is in the documentary.
Elizabeth: Well, beyond Harry Potter, there's also a lot of footage of his other acts. I found the zombie one and it was really funny.
Aaron: So that was mine from university. And so obviously I've got access to all that footage. And you know, we shot that on a night shift and we were very, very tired. So I always have access to that I also had access to a lot of small DV tapes that are kept in great condition in someone's attic. Holiday videos of...
Colin: My attic.
Aaron: I think must be in your attic. Yes. And, you know, I spent a couple of evenings just ingesting them on my Mac and having a look at all this old material. And it was fantastic because as soon as we got all this stuff of Rob, it felt like he was alive again, in a positive sense. And, and that that was just, you know, I know that made Colin happy. I know it made me happy seeing it all again. We spent almost a year editing in [post production] on this film. And there wouldn't be a day that went by that entire year, I didn't hear Rob's voice, and it honestly felt like he was in the room with me doing this, guiding this story. So it's a bit of a surreal feeling.
Colin: On a personal note, Rob was also a very loving person. One of the greatest stories I've ever told about him, and one of them because there are many. There are two. He was given an award by the police, but I'll come back to that. At some point in my life, I saved a lot of coins, put them into a bottle, you know like a large gin bottle, and it became full. I said to Robert, here it is, go spend as you wish. And I thought he'd go buy some sneakers or something, you know, a hoodie or whatever. And it turns out, he went to Barclays Bank and put every penny into the account for Save the Children in Africa. And I thought, just wow. I mean, at the time he wasn't a man, he was a middle-aged teenager. So for a young person to be given quite a lot of money and for him to decide to give it to the children in need. That's that was Robert, he loved children. He would have been a great father. And the other thing that he... we found out the spooky thing is on May the 24th 2008, he was killed. On May the 24th 2007. There was a woman who was attacked in Marks and Spencer's shopping mall in Blue Water. And this guy attacked a woman he ran out of the shopping mall. He ran across a car park Rob chased him and caught him in the woods until the police came. And then we found out just after Rob died that they wanted to give him a posthumous award for bravery. And we felt that he should have been here to receive it. And that was Robert, he defended people. He was a defender.
Elizabeth: Were there any aspects of Rob's personality that you wish you could have included in the documentary but didn't eventually make the cut? Or is the documentary a full picture of Rob's personality?
Colin: Well, I think if that were to take place, it wouldn't be a documentary about Robert in three sections, who he was what he has done, and his demise. And that's, that's what we wanted to get out there. And I don't think anyone would watch a video about Rob per se, because he was Rob. That's why we introduced things like chapter one if you like other documentaries. I've got my thoughts and sometimes I'll think, "Oh, have I mentioned that before?" You know, there are so many lovely things that he's done. You can't always relate to them. You can't talk about them. Because you in a shortened view, there are certain things you want to say. Can't say, and it's not relevant. But there are some lovely memories of Rob. Does that answer your question? Is that Okay?
Elizabeth: Yeah, it does. Aaron, do you have any thoughts on this?
Aaron: I agree with Colin, the film was longer. Slightly longer. We had to cut it down because one of the invested interests in this documentary is that one day we'll be able to land a distribution deal and get this broadcast internationally. But to do so, you do need to fit that time slot and we figured we can't go over and we have to just stick with the best stuff. We trimmed the fat and, and to be honest, from that a lot of stuff that we cut didn't involve Rob and his personality was mainly other subsidiary things that are still important. But we had to make sure that our focus was still on Rob. I mean, he's our main character. This is his movie. But yeah, I think we managed to tell it perfectly in 50 minutes.
Elizabeth: So on this topic of it being a documentary that's trying to get distributed internationally, in the London Independent Film Festival (LIFF) Q&A you mentioned that the documentary isn't exactly what fans of Harry Potter or viewers would expect of a traditional documentary in the sense of a crime documentary. How was that decision made? And at any point in that documentary process did you think that perhaps it would be more financially viable if you had just gone on that true crime rut, or the more traditional documentary rut instead.
Colin: From the outset, we didn't want to glorify the incident. That's been done before, and before, and before. We want to show there was a person. This is who he was. This is where his life was taken, his acting career with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and then the demise. We didn't want to glorify crime, we want to fight crime.
Aaron: I was just going to say, I would probably refer this to Natasha in a second because she runs the London Independent Film Festival, and this is our first festival. Natasha has seen quite a lot of documentaries, and we've seen a lot of amazing documentaries at this year's festival as well, so she's probably the best person to answer in terms of types of documentaries. In regards to finding that balance between True Crime and trying to tell Rob's story as honestly as we could, we actually had a producer come on board in the latter stages of post-production called Nick Kenton. Nick Kenton has worked on a lot of true crime and he currently has a show on MTV that deals with crime. We went back and forth for a year trying to find that perfect balance in telling his story. I made it very clear to him that I didn't want this to be something that you would see typically on a Thursday night on some channel, it has to be something more. It has to move people in their guts and their hearts. It can't be something that is full of red herrings and would just slot right in on Netflix or something like that. It has to have something that makes you think about it the next day, essentially. Natasha if you want to take over on this one, you've probably seen more documentaries than I have in the past year.
Natasha Marburger: I agree with what you said there. For me, I find it... [Natasha's audio cuts out]
Elizabeth: Natasha, I think you've cut out.
Aaron: Hang on, Natasha. You seem to be dipping in and out. We can't seem to hear you. [pause] I think what she'd want to focus on is that it's awesome, this documentary.
Elizabeth: That is true. We'll wait for Natasha to reconnect back and she can share what she wants to share later. I want to move on now to the next question being that this documentary is obviously very emotional and very gut-wrenching. What was the reaction like when you showed the final product to Rob's friends and family?
Colin: Well from the friends and family perspective, it's been fantastic, supportive. I felt like the first thing to do was to move me. If you can move me you can move anyone. Because every time that Aaron sent us a rendition I viewed it, and every time I was just in tears. Even some of my friends and family - like cousins, and distant cousins, and uncles, and whoever - they probably didn't know what went on per-say. They certainly probably had not seen Rob at that age. So they're now seeing one of their relations as a young man of eighteen. They can see who he was. And then they hear about the court case as well, which was an awful experience for the family. I think the support from the family and friends was fantastic. It was very well-received. I've not had one negative response from it. We got a lot of love for what we've tried to achieve.
Aaron: Natasha, are you able to speak just quickly?
Natasha: What was the question, now?
Aaron: Our documentary compared to the other documentaries that you've probably seen.
Natasha: What I was saying was, I think the balance is right between personal and emotional enough to attract people to it because you really see who Rob is, but at the same time also raising the awareness about knife crime. But you wouldn't care about that as much if you didn't care about Rob. So I think you get the balance very right. I think that's why we love it and we want to support it because it raises awareness of the issue of knife crime but it does it in a way that really engages the audiences rather than just putting out all the facts, and the statistics, and everything. You interweave it really well with all the personal things about Rob and all the footage about him, and his life, and what he did, and who he was. I think that's really important in documentaries. All the best documentaries make use of a central character.
Colin: Can I just... Sorry, are you okay, Natasha? Have you finished? I'm not being rude, you just keep on freezing. I can't tell if you're talking or not.
Natasha: Yeah, Colin, you can go ahead.
Colin: There have probably been lots of people in America who had their own social issues. In the UK, one of the biggest problems on our streets is young people carrying knives. The astonishing thing is, ever since Rob died - I think Aaron updated it a couple of weeks ago - nearly 2,800 young people have been killed - not injured, just killings - by the way of a knife. So for American listeners to understand why this story's going out in the UK, we have our own social issues. We've tried to use this vehicle of a documentary over the years. We've been trying to get it sorted out and produced to keep people aware of it. Because people think on a day-to-day basis, "Oh, it will go away." And when you're fed, "There's one death today", and then tomorrow, "There are two deaths today," and then the following day none, and then the following day one, what you get is drip-fed something. And you go, "Oh, there's another one. That's awful." But when you look at what I call the collective sum of people that have died by way of a knife, it hasn't gone down, it's gotten worse, to be honest. It hasn't changed. What we're trying to do, what we've always been trying to do, is to make a change. And we're using Rob's legacy to keep that voice out there, keep people on their toes. And we want people in this country, in a ministerial position, to make that change.
Elizabeth: I really like your answer because I think this really segues nicely into the next question that I have which is about knife crime. Obviously, the documentary wants to bring awareness to knife crime and so my question is, what do you think is the biggest legislative - or perhaps social - obstacle towards greater reforms against solving the issue of knife crime?
Aaron: To me, and I know Colin feels the same way, we think the system has failed in the UK. Be it with the government, be it with society. One of the things that I wanted to mention - and this is something that Jim said to us, Jim Broadbent - he said that he thought our team and the Rob Knox Foundation, he's in awe of us because of our creative approach to the situation. There are many things you can do to raise awareness, but he said what we're doing with the arts to raise awareness is a very creative approach. And I thought that was a very interesting point. It wasn't until last year on the anniversary of Rob's passing that social media lit up with Harry Potter fans raising their wands. To me, that was such a beautiful... I know the reference, and I know what it was about. I just saw Twitter and Instagram explode with all these fans. It was all the Harry Potter fans remembering Rob in their own way that meant something to them, and that translated beautifully. It made me think about what Jim said, and it feels like it's taken the help of the wands to help put down the knives. That in itself is a creative approach. If it takes something from the fantasy world to help us in the real world, then I'm all for it. I know Colin's all for it. It just means we're part of a bigger family than we realized and so is Rob.
Colin: Yeah. If I can add my two cents or a quarter of a dollar. [laughs] You're talking about change, are you saying what change has been made?
Elizabeth: Obviously not enough change has been made. Not enough legislative reforms to fight the crime have not been made. What are the biggest obstacles - political or social - that are hindering your ability to really make that meaningful change?
Colin: In my own opinion, I don't think enough has been done. No one's stepped forward to challenge that. Someone did once but I forget who that was. That's how meaningful it wasn't. The fact that they can allow people, young people, to be killed. At one point in our UK history when there's an election coming up, the standing administration was saying that if they win the election, they would introduce a 30-minute social program in the curriculum. They lost the election. Then I spoke to the incoming educational minister at his house in London. He represented the conservative party. I challenged him, and he said, "We're not going to use it." I said, "Well, why? It makes sense to me that if you want to educate young people, the place to do it is in school. Teach them early, get in early, and try to turn them around." And he didn't see it that way. There was a guy called Jack Straw way back in the day. He said, "What we will do, is we will make sure that anyone that commits murder will get an extra five years sentence." And I thought, [sarcastically] "Oh, great. That's twenty years down the line. That is passing the buck." What we want to see is proactiveness, not reactive. If you're being reactive to a crime, you're going to a funeral. The police will arrest someone for murder. That is the incorrect way of saving lives for us. I think what they collected from this - Aaron, and [inaudible], and anyone else - is that the way forward is to prevent a loss of life. Prevention, not reaction. I think prevention is what is needed. And we hadn't seen that be established in this country ever since my son was killed in 2008. It needs to be. I don't know why they don't address it. At some point, we had a high profile. People were listening. But what did they do? They heard, but they didn't listen to the words, they didn't react to anything. They went, "Okay. I heard what you said. Move on." That's not the right way to deal with an issue. A social issue, on the street issue, young people losing lives. And a lot of these young people are educated people not wanting to hurt anyone. They want to be artists, lawyers, doctors, dentists, and they've been taken out on the street. Why? Because some person decides to carry a knife. And I've always said before, yes, I do have a problem with knives. But the problem is the person carrying the knife. We need to address - as far as I'm concerned - an issue that has not been addressed.
Aaron: Sorry, just jumping in. I think what Colin and I both are trying to say is that in terms of our respective government in the UK, I think we've probably received more support and love and understanding from the Harry Potter fan community than we have from the suits and ties that are running this show. I love it. But at the same time, we should be pulling together, and the fans of Harry Potter have been doing far more than our government should be doing.
Colin: Yeah, well said.
Elizabeth: And there's a follow-up question to that. What would you say to some of our fans of Harry Potter that are outside of the UK, and who aren't affected by knife crime, and therefore don't put as much importance on this issue? So what would you say to them?
Colin: I would say, draw a parallel in your own country. If you feel that gun... I mean, recently, there was someone in Missouri or somewhere a couple of days ago? There seems... I know there is a gun lobbying thing. But if there is a social issue that needs to be addressed, then speak to your congressman, or the governor, or whoever you have to speak to in the states to address an issue. No one should be taken from this earth by another person. And if it's an issue that needs to be addressed, then try and address it in the best way you can legally.
Aaron: In terms of the audience outside of the UK, the thing about Rob's story, the reason why it gets to people, gets under their skin, is because Rob's story is universal. This might be something we are struggling with within the UK. But Rob was a son, Rob was a brother. It's a member of your family. And we can all relate to it on a personal level. It doesn't matter if you're holding a knife, or a gun, or anything, that is still someone's loved one that we're never going to see again. And we're hoping that with just this one story, just one out of [unintelligible] over 7,800 and whatever. That's just in the UK. We haven't done the total for street violence and fatalities in the world. And if we can tell just one story and help people change their minds, change their attitudes, whether they carry weapons, or if it's the parents of those who are wondering what their son or daughter is up to in the evenings. Then we've done our job. And that's all we can ask for.
Colin: That's a very important point because parents should know what their children are doing. They should bring them up in the correct way. And it goes back to schools again, as well as parental guidance. There should be guidance from schools on being a good citizen in this country. And that should be in the curriculum in this country. So as far as I'm concerned, have respect for people, you know? Don't be intolerant, don't attack people. There are a lot of people that don't listen. But unless you speak to the fringe people you're not getting into the problem. There are people who probably sit in the middle thinking, "Do you know what? That makes sense. I won't do that. I won't go around with that gang. I won't carry that knife. I won't carry that gun. I won’t do drugs.” Whatever it is, it's to make people responsible for their actions because there are always repercussions. It's all about what happens after the event. And if a person was to kill another person, okay. For the deceased person's family that is horrific. It ripples all through the family, they've lost a loved one. But equally, the instigator of a crime is now disassociated from his own family, because they now realize in the family, there's a person, there's a murderer. So it ripples back the other way to their family. So it's not just a person committing the murder, and a person was killed. If you take the ripple effect on both sides of the aisle, on the good and the bad, families are deeply affected. And it is all consequences. People have to realize the consequence of an action.
Aaron: And just to add to what Colin said - and as viewers of the documentary will know if they've seen it - Rob wasn't affiliated with any gang. Rob did not cause trouble. He wasn't a bad person. He wasn't into that life. Rob's story is about heroism and standing up to someone who was causing trouble, and the consequences. Unfortunately, Rob died. But it doesn't have to be the case with everyone else watching this story.
Colin: Aaron, can I jump in? You just brought another memory to mind about Rob and his compassion for people. Rob, as you said, Aaron, Rob didn't belong to a gang. He belonged to a group of people. There's a difference between the two. A point that comes to mind is there is a place in Kent called Dartford. Rob was walking with a group of his friends. And on the other side, there was another group, which Rob knew. And they stood there like there's gonna be a face-off and Rob went, "Hang on a minute" and he walked across the road and spoke to the group that he knew. And he said, "We haven't got a problem have we?" and they said, "No." Then the two groups become one group. And that remained the way. He embraced people. He went to a party, and there's no one dancing, he picked them up and asked them to get involved. He involved people. And, as Aaron said - I hate the word gang - but Rob didn't walk in a gang. He walked with friends, he walked in the group. And because these two groups become one, you had a larger amount of friends. And they all respected him for that. Thanks for mentioning that as a moment. It was Rob's character.
Elizabeth: That's really a very touching story. We're coming up to 10:30. So I just wanted to close off with the last question being, what has been the most rewarding part of this process? Or were there any particularly rewarding moments throughout the documentary process?
Colin: Yeah, speaking to Aaron every day, and waking him up, or stopping him from working, having fun with him. Sometimes I get drunk, and he goes, "Oh, my God, he's off on one again." Because it is, for me, emotional. And I do drink, I do admit it. But for Aaron, it's a bit of a problem. [laughs] Because I've probably spoken to Aaron every day for the last two years.
Aaron: I just don't hang up the phone. I just let him talk. I go to bed and he's still talking.
Colin: So you're talking about outtake moments that are fun, or serious?
Aaron: Let me give you my own Colin because this is from the heart. The highlight of this documentary, and producing this documentary, aside from our first festival being the London Independent Film Festival... And we've embraced [it] with so much love, and Natasha has been at our beck and call every day filling us in on events and what's happening, and please do check out the London Film Festival. I'm sure they'll send you a link, but they've just been fantastic. But overall, the most positive and the best thing about this documentary is that there are two things: the love and respect that people have had coming on to the documentary given their time for free from Ray Winston, Jim Broadbent, Tom Felton, Taxi Joe. They've been incredible. And I suppose the last thing that I've enjoyed about this documentary, despite its subject matter, is that it's brought me closer to Colin, as a friend. And it's also brought me closer to Rob in many ways because I've learned so many more things about Rob after his passing than I did when he was around. It kind of feels like I've reconnected with Rob, and I've gained a closer friend with Colin, for sure.
Colin: Yeah. I've said to Aaron, in the past, "You've become a third son."
[Aaron and Colin laugh]
Colin: Sorry, can I come back to that point about what do I like the most? Aaron has come to a point where I wanted the documentary to be. We couldn't do any more with it, with what clips we had, soundbites we had, interviews with people, extra people coming in. I think Aaron has done the best in terms of what he had. And he has done a remarkable job. So my conclusion is, I'm happy, totally happy, with what Aaron has achieved. And what anyone that supported what the documentary has achieved. And, yeah, thumbs up mate, excellent job.
Aaron: Thank you very much. You're a fourth father to me.
Colin: A fourth?
[Aaron and Colin laugh]
Aaron: I'm joking.
Elizabeth: Do you do either if you have any last points of reflection or personal growth that you'd like to share?
Aaron: I would like Natasha to say some things about the festival, for sure, please. Because we've only got a few days left of the festival and I'd really love to get this information out. Especially about where they can see it and the other films.
Natasha: It's been a fantastic festival. And we were really worried because we thought, "Oh, it's a pandemic, and it has to go virtual now. What's going to happen? Are we going to get enough really good films?" We needn't have worried about any of that because it's just been brilliant. And this film, in particular, has had such an amazing reception from everyone. We've had so many people giving us feedback and replying to things that you've put online, Aaron, as well. It's just been brilliant. So check out all the films as well. Make sure to check out this one, obviously. It's such a brilliant, brilliant film and a great lineup this year. All the information is on our website, which is LIFF.org. So it's all on there. But come and chat with us on social media. You will find Aaron there as well. He'll be around to chat to. And we also have our award ceremony coming up on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. UK time. People can come and join on there. You'll find all the information online. It's just brilliant.
Colin: I would like to wish every film that's been entered every success. We hope to win. If we don't, that's not a problem. We want to get the messages out there. But anyone that wins, good luck to you. And if we don't, we've been beaten by a better documentary or a better film. Se la vie.
Natasha: Honestly, it's been brilliant. we were worried and I was worried if it was going to go well, and who would be coming and joining us, and all our online events, and chatting to us, and everything. You guys have been brilliant.
Elizabeth: Were there any particular challenges that came with the COVID pandemic and moving the film festival online?
Natasha: Yes. Generally - I say this all the time - a film festival isn't just another platform. It's not just a website with film links; it's all the other things: meeting the filmmakers, doing Q&As, talking to each other, getting feedback, building a community, doing all the social events, all the networking, and stuff like that. And it is really hard to do that online. And we have to have as much as possible on different platforms, social media, all the web stuff. Anything we've been able to do, we've just tried, and I think that the main challenge has been trying to create an atmosphere online without being able to just hang out on the red carpet and meet each other and all of that. think that's been the most difficult part of that, but it's gone well. And we've managed to connect, and people have been supportive and, and they're guys here, the Rob Knox story, you've been there as well which has been great. Aaron, thank you for all your being around and chatting with me and everything. Because I didn't know how it would go. And I know a lot of festivals [that] have tried, and we hope for the best. We've tried to do certain events and things, and some of it has been good. So I'm pleased.
Aaron: This is our first time we've been selected with this documentary. We've just had a blast and considering the subject matter of our documentary, and just everything we've gone through with the LAFF has been incredible. So it's given us a lot of steam and it's made us realize our own potential as well. It was the first time we stopped and went, "Oh, crap. People might want to watch this movie." So thanks again, guys, for that.
Colin: Within the Foundation, we've got the documentary, we've got a thing called the Rob Knox Film Festival, and [we've got] the Rob Knox Film Academy where we teach young people everything about the way of creating a film. From casting to scripts, and everything else. We also have a film festival that we had to delay because of COVID. And we are trying to get the Rob Knox Film Festival that has been going on since 2009, the first Wednesday of every June... It's been deferred, and hopefully, in September this year, the Rob Knox Film Festival will take place [at] Cineworld in Bexleyheath. Cineworld are fantastic every year by allowing us to use one of these cinemas free of charge as a charity. They're absolutely fantastic. It's like Natasha feels, I feel the same. You want to see bums in seats, you want to see smiling faces, you want to see happy recipients, you like to give awards to people, shake hands, feel the love. And afterward, we have an after-party where people interact. They...
Aaron: Get drunk.
Colin: [laughs] Right. We do buy them a few drinks, but it's called networking, where you meet like-minded people, directors, actors, artists. And we have an award called the 99%. It's an up-and-coming young person, sound artist, cameraman wherever it is. We call it a 99% because 99% of people are good. So look for a good young person that's doing something as an up-and-coming person within the art of film. And we do that award as a separate award. So yeah, going back to Natasha’s comments about finding it hard to get it the way you want it to be, I know how that feels. I love meeting people. I love to see people get their awards. You get joy. The good thing about Cineworld is these artists that create these films can see their films on a huge screen with fantastic sound. It's not on the computer, and no disrespect to everyone else, but it is a huge cinema and they can see it for all its glory. And we have an audience participation award as well. A short film voted for by the audience. I digress.
Natasha: So much all of the stuff that you just listed, all that hanging out and having a drink, and... I don't want to say that it's bad online. That's not the right word. It's just different. If you can't do that kind of thing in the same way. But it does have opportunities that you wouldn't have as well because you can connect with parts of the world that you otherwise couldn't be there, or those people couldn't come to London for films at the festival. So it has created opportunities as well, I think. It's, it's just so different, isn't it?
Aaron: You have the Los Angeles International Film Festival coming up in November. So hopefully, fingers crossed, it won't be online, I suppose.
Elizabeth: With vaccinations underway, hopefully, we will get in-person events coming back soon. We do need it. I think it's particularly important for film because you can watch it on a computer screen. With some other things, you could move it online and it would only feel a little less. But with film, you want to be able to get it on the big screen and watch it with other people as well.
Colin: Before we break away can I say thank you very much for MuggleNet for paying interest. We wish everyone at MuggleNet happy success. Keep safe.
Elizabeth: No worries.
Natasha: Thank you so much.