Three Minute Squiz With… Robyn Butler

There’s a lot going on in Robyn Butlers life. An AACTA Award winner (for Upper Middle Bogan), television production company director with husband Wayne Hope (think The Librarians and Very Small Business), actress, writer and mum. And she has not been deterred by the coronavirus crisis with the creation of new series Love in Lockdown starring Eddie Perfect and Lucy Durack. Please welcome this busy Squizer to this week’s Three Minute Squiz. 

How and where to do you Squiz?
In bed, with a cup of tea, on my iPhone.

You wear so many hats. Do you have a favourite one?
I love all the hats but I love the one that says ‘writing’ best.

An article we read describes you as the nicest woman in TV. It can’t be easy to maintain a sunny disposition in what’s a notoriously cut-throat industry?
I paid a lot of money for that write-up. Look, as far as I’m concerned I have the best job in the world. At times it can be very challenging but, bottom line, I get to do what I love. People who are grumpy or hard work only make the tough days tougher so they tend not to last too long working with us…!

You’ve not let the events of the last few weeks get in the way of your creative output. How did Love in Lockdown come together?
My darling friend Lucy Durack came to me with this idea for a rom-com set in isolation. We’d had an ordinary couple of weeks in lockdown (one of our dogs died tbh) and I was happy to throw myself into something so sweet and distracting! I worked out the story with Lucy on Zoom over a couple of days and then I wrote the scripts over the next three days. Full disclosure, I think I was in my pyjamas for several days straight. It was dirty but enormously fun.

The logistics of pulling that together must have been interesting…
We had rehearsals over Zoom. Wayne went down a YouTube rabbit hole of finding the best light and microphone to use when filming with a phone, which led him sourcing equipment from New Zealand, getting it sent to Eddie in Sydney and Lucy in Melbourne and then preparing a very extensive DIY shooting manual to go with it. Wayne was in his happy place.

You’re now an expert in the medium – what’s the secret to getting a semi-decent video-conference image of yourself?
Raise the camera so people are looking at your eyes, not your chest – ie put the laptop or iPad on a stack of books; give yourself a soft side light – from the window or a desk lamp, and a bit of depth doesn’t hurt – prop yourself against the corner, rather than a flat wall.

Any tips for working with your spouse?
Be kind. I think kindness at home – the way you speak to each other – is underrated.

You work with a lot of funny people. Who cracks you up off the screen?
Oh boy, that’s a long list. Roz Hammond and Heidi Arena from The Librarians (back on ABC iview right now) make me double over; they are both ridiculously funny.

What’s your favourite recipe?
That’s impossibly hard because I love many, many foods, but we have Monday Miso at our house (actually quite a few other houses do it now; it’s caught on) which is chargrilled salmon with miso soup and udon noodles. I don’t know how it started but we literally have it every Monday so I guess that constitutes a favourite recipe.

Name four people – living or dead – you would love to have at your next dinner party.
Lucy, Chris, Polly and Teddy. (That’s Lucy Durack and her family and I’m longing to see them all in my house.)

What’s your favourite book?
Again, very tricky to name one. In the spirit of the rom-com, I’ll say Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice’s big sister.

All-time favourite comedy movie/TV show?
SO HARD. In a nod to both the lockdown and the mastery of this film: Groundhog Day.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I saw righteousness listed as a virtue somewhere and I think the world could do with a little less righteousness and a little more compassion.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
Close to home, I think it’s the fate of my colleagues and our arts industry during and post the pandemic.

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