By Jesse Bertel

Robert Upchurch is a filmmaker who grew up in Prescott and graduated from Prescott High School. He is an executive producer for the film “Blackberry,” which recently premiered at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. The movie is being distributed by IFC Films.

Upchurch spoke with Across the Street about his work as a filmmaker. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

What made you want to be a filmmaker?

I became very obsessed with Lord of the Rings as a kid, and my parents would buy me the “making of” books and I would watch the behind-the-scenes stuff just sort of to realize what else was going on behind the scenes and got excited about the role of the director.

From a very early age, I would say that I wanted to be a director. Besides watching movies as a kid, I remember making one short film in Prescott when I was in elementary school. It really took me until college to start diving in and making stuff myself and taking filmmaking seriously.

Have your goals as a filmmaker shifted while looking for work?

My end goals have remained the same. Once I found the solid footing of knowing what I like, at the end of college, realizing that I did want to commit to being ultimately a director who makes feature films, what I totally changed my life stance on was how I was going to get there through many different trials and errors like going to LA and working as an assistant.

Working at Fox in an office and working as an assistant to a producer and then totally cutting out of that side of the industry — anyone who knows the industry knows how far away those roles are from the actual filmmaking that happens on set — what I realized, obviously, was that was the part that I love the most.

So to make money, I became a freelance editor and that is kind of where I find myself now. I think professionally as I worked my way to making my own feature films, the best thing I can do is stay as an editor.

How did you get

involved with the film BlackBerry?

“Blackberry” is a Canadian feature made by a director named Matt Johnson, who I became a really mega fan of. He has a pretty strong but small cult following and it kind of began with the web series that he made called “Nirvana, The Band.” The show is a web series. Then after that, he made a low-budget indie feature for like ten-grand called “The Dirties.” So, I emailed them while I was at the U of A, just saying how much I love the movie, but also like if they had any internship positions that I would love to jump on. And the craziest thing happened. The next day Matt Johnson, the director, happened to be flying through the Phoenix Airport. He had a layover, as he was going to Mexico for a film festival, and he had like an hour window where I could kind of meet him.

For more about Upchurch’s film work, visit

Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.

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