When he came into photographer Tim Porter’s studio, Jamie Redford, 50, quickly flipped over the cushions on any piece of upholstered furniture. Deep into research on his ninth film, a look at the toxic flame-retardants in furniture, he’s become obsessed with labels. While he did follow his famous father’s footsteps into the film industry, Redford has found a comfortable place behind the camera celebrating the human experience. His first film, The Kindness of Strangers made in 1999, was inspired by his own experience with having two liver transplants in 1993, while his latest film, The Big Picture which airs on HBO October 29, delves into the topic of dyslexia. When Redford is not working on a film or playing with his band, Olive and the Dirty Martinis, he can be found enjoying time with his family — wife Kyle, son Dylan and daughter Lena — hiking the Marin hills or surfing in Bolinas.
1) Why Marin? I was born and raised in Manhattan with summers in Utah and I loved them both. The Bay Area offers unparalleled access to both nature and culture.
2) If you hadn’t become a filmmaker, what would you have done? I would have liked to become a doctor. Why the body does what it does holds an endless fascination for me.
3) Did you try acting? Yes! But when my wig fell off — I was playing a woman in The Canterbury Tales — at 8, I turned to my guitar.
4) What was the biggest perk of being Robert Redford’s son — beyond the fact that he’s a great father and an inspiration? Aside from psychos threatening to kill our family throughout the ’60s and ’70s because they wanted to have my dad for themselves, I did get to meet Cheryl Tiegs.
5) What advice have you taken from your dad? Not to take advice.
6) What/who inspired The Big Picture? My son Dylan, who has dyslexia. Watching him be misunderstood by so many was the height of frustration.
7) Film Festival or Cineplex? Film fest with a weakness for Marvel Comics movies.
8) You met your wife in college when she was there visiting her sister, how did you get her attention? It wasn’t hard, she came up to me at a sorority party to tell me that her family thought I was a loser (long story). It was love at first sight on my part.
9) Perfect date in Marin? Hike Olema Ridge then dinner at our Fairfax treasure, 123 Bolinas.
10) If your neighbor reads this, is there anything you’d like to say? In case you were wondering, Mike, that was indeed a tree saw that I was using to fix my front door.
11) Say you’re at the DMV and you notice someone thinking about adding the pink organ donation sticker, what would you say to that person? One donor can save up to seven lives.
12) How often does your band play, and which instrument do you play? I play the electric guitar, and we play Marin clubs once a month, but we will do weddings, auctions, retirements. I keep thinking someone’s going to throw a rockin’ funeral party. I know I will, but hopefully not too soon.