Artist’s Corner – Christian Robertson

December 17, 2019

The Artist’s Corner is a new weekly feature of the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin. We send our participants forty questions and ask them to choose twenty they would like to answer. It includes a short profile and a link to their website. We hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin or its staff.



Canadian director, writer, producer and healthcare practitioner; Christian Robertson was born the second of three son’s and raised by his mother (a singer-songwriter and community facilitator) in a small mining town in Northern Ontario, Canada.  As a young man, he watched his mother struggle with several health conditions; motivating a great interest in alternative methods of healing.He graduated with a degree in Behavioral Science/ Psychology with specialized study in chronic pain. His thesis highlighted the contribution of behaviour, emotion and psychology in the process of healing.He combined formal studies and clinical experience in manual therapy to work as a rehabilitation specialist – assisting those suffering from chronic injury, illness and disease.He also briefly worked in the Coast Guard, where he often spent weekends alone aboard a ship with his Captain’s small collection of classic films. Christian credits the company of those films with pushing along his love for cinema and encouraging him to tell stories of his own.   Over the years he honed his craft through short documentaries and music videos – developing a compelling method of storytelling, looking deeply at our personal narratives and through them, finding ways to entertain and heal others.In early 2018 he founded FIVE CENT CITY, a grassroots initiative where he used filmmaking, public service and community events to challenge the shame and isolation model associated with issues surrounding mental health and addiction.He began work on his first feature film in 2016; writing, directing and co-producing, City At Sea (2019). 


Q. At which classes or workshops did you learn the most? 
A.  A clinical mentorship by the late Scott Forhan.  He took me in and gave me a boost after many other clinics and schools rejected my application.  I sat next to his treatment table for years. I learned a lot about assessing and treating chronic pain and disease, but I learned even more about the importance of self-confidence and the role of storytelling in recovery.

Q. Do you believe artists are made or born? 
A. Everyone has an artist in them, it just takes honesty and integrity. Bravery to share your point of view. We all have that, it’s just a matter of feeding it.

Q. Which film have you watched the most? 
A. The Wrestler, Shawshank Redemption, Rocky, Casablanca, Ali, Casino Royal and Good Will Hunting are among the most watched.  But, when I was a youth there was a bootleg VHS tape of, Above the Rim being passed around my neighborhood. I was a basketball player and when it got to me I watched it till I knew it line for line. I played the opening credits (to hear Tupac’s song) so much that I broke the tape! Then I saved my money and bought the official VHS and almost did it again!

Q. Who is your favorite celebrity in recovery? 
A. Some of my favorite talents in recovery include D’angelo for his music. Robert Downey Jr. for his humor. Brad Pitt, Al Pacino and Sir Anthony Hopkins for acting … there is such a long list of incredible people to choose from. So many gifted with conveying emotion to an audience. 

Q. Do you prefer living by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop, or penthouse? 
A. I’d live near a lake with a view of the mountains. The ocean is wonderful but I prefer to swim in freshwater.

Q. Where do you go to ‘get away”? 
A. The Public Library.   

Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve? 
A. Being in a movie theatre near a loud breather or someone chewing with their mouth open … I don’t even mind people yelling at the screen, but hearing you chew or breath heavy!!!!! Forget about it.

Q. How do you measure success? 
A. Impact on culture and the lives of others. 

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to? 
A. 1st – I’d provide to the initiative I currently organize which helps the recovery process in communities effected most by mental health and the associated issues related to addiction and suicide. 2nd – I would help provide access of drinkable water to communities in need. 3rd – Combat human trafficking. 

Q. Who was your biggest influence throughout your life? 
A. Due to addiction and mental health challenges my father was completely absent from my life. But, in that absence, he became the greatest influence on my life.

Q. What is your current hobby? 
A. Filmmaking and writing. 

Q. What prominent fe/male figure would you most like to date? 
A. Alicia Keys, or a young Raquel Welch … shoot even an older Raquel Welch! 

Q. What is your favorite: TV/cable/digital series? 
A. I don’t watch TV.  I hear many great things about so many of these shows, but I’m overwhelmed by the time commitment.  I have my own stories to tell.

Q. Who is your favorite: Film Director? 
A. I like pieces of many; Terrence Malik for his poetry and naturalism. Micheal Mann for his attention to detail and historical accuracy. Scott Cooper for his characters and performances, Denis Villeneuve for his pace, simplicity and Ryan Coogler for his choices and being one of the most important film makers of our generation. 

Q. Who is your favorite: Activist? 
A. James Baldwin. And my friend Musa Kaleem Keita; The Poet of Harlem. 

Q. What is your favorite: City? 
A. I’m still on the lookout. 

Q. What is your favorite album of all time? 
A. John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Runner up:   D’angelo – Voodoo; Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago; Al Green – Greatest Hits         

Q. Do you have any children? Grandchildren? 
A. I’m an unofficial Godfather to a few children. And I carry that role with sincerity.

Q. What’s your favorite radio show or Podcast? 
A. For motivation, I enjoy Sean Croxton’s — Quote of the Day Show  And for the music nerd in me, Song Exploder. 

Q. What books are you reading now? 
A.  I just finished The Untethered Soul, Dr. Lise Jennelle: Conversations with the Heart. Currently, I’m listening to Rakim- Sweat the Technique; with a voice like that it needs to be experienced as an audiobook.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 
A. For every challenge in life, there is equal support. So when something hurtful happens, sit with it until you can come up with all the ways in which that situation has or will benefit you. This prevents victimhood and reminds us of the balance in life.

Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, a disease, a choice, or a wicked twist of fate?
A.  At present, I subscribe to the view that addiction is a means of managing a relationship with past trauma or pain of some kind.  Therefore, it’s imperative to treat the underlying trauma in order to truly recover.  I have seen too many examples in my own life to believe otherwise. 

Q. What are five things you always carry with you? 
A. Metropass, pen/paper, earplugs, water and dignity. 

Q. What is your favorite concert venue? 
A. Massey Hall in Toronto 

Q. What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken? 
A. First one that comes to mind was a bucket list move — I took a solo trip to Las Vegas and rented a car to go see the Grand Canyon.  The catch is that I had only one month of driving experience, I had never driven alone or driven on a highway before.  So, imagine my feeling exiting the airport merging into highway traffic! Damn!

Q. What is your biggest mistake? 
A. Not replying/reaching out in time before losing a close friend. 

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life? 
A. That’ll be something I’ll have a better grasp of when I’m closer to checking out. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know.


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