Ninjaverse, Rob Baard.

How does the boy who started out selling ice-creams at Village Geelong end up becoming an award-winning film maker, who has created, produced, directed and stared in feature films, TV series and stunt shows? Here is Rob Baard’s story.

Rob grew up in Norlane and went straight from school to a Village Cinema traineeship in 1998, where he trained in all areas. Village seemed a good fit because, even from a young age, he’d always been into film, writing scripts, making costumes and making short films. His enthusiasm, determination and dedication at Village, led him to become cinema manager by 2000.

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During his time at Village Rob completed his first feature film and won many awards, including cinema marketing to which in 2007 he left Village to continue cinema marketing from home  in order to focus on film making in the form of the ‘Ninjaverse’ his own creative film and licensing franchise,

This enabled him to tie together his passions for film making and martial arts. “During this time, I studied a lot, I gained diplomas in psychotherapy, NLP, complete mind therapy, clinical hypnosis and am a licensed private investigator, very ninja like I suppose, it all had to be relevant to the bigger picture.”

It was a dream come true for Rob when he filmed with and directed actor Danny Glover, of the Lethal Weapon films, for his first feature film ‘The Ninja Immovable Heart’. By 2013 he’d created 3 short films, 2 books and this feature film.

Rob tells us, “’The Ninja Immovable Heart’ was filmed partly in Hollywood where I directed Lethal Weapon’s Danny Glover, but 90% was filmed right here in Geelong. Our iconic waterfront, Corio Villa, the Mill, the Sphinx and Graincorp, to name a few locations became the showcase for the film, currently released in 17 countries. We have an ideal setting with the water, You Yangs all within easy reach. Eastern Gardens’ unique look allowed us to depict different cultures. 278 people, mostly locals, worked on the film.”

In 2018 his documentary ‘Super-human Quest’ won the LA Film Awards Best Documentary featurette. It was filmed in Japan with legendary grandmaster of Ninjutsu Dr Masaaki Hatsumi and his senior Shihan instructors.

Rob has a strong teaching background and qualifications in various martial arts, he is a licensed Shidoshi in Ninjutsu, having attained a 10th degree black belt. He studies healing arts and he’s the successful author of three books covering various aspects of these topic. He’s developed and taught screen writing, visual fx’s and action courses at universities, acting schools and at seminars.

Last year Rob was recognized as an Australian Cinema Pioneer, and now mentors actors and producers. “It’s nice to hear from people looking for advice, I’m passionate about helping others.” Ten years ago Rob fostered a child who is now a young woman, who, as fate would have it, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour around 18 months ago “I travel to Japan and the USA 2-3 times a year, I still need to be in Geelong to support her, the past year alone she has had two brain surgeries and chemotherapy. These things change your perspective for the better. My main priority now is happiness. All that really matters is to make others laugh and smile and to be happy.” To maintain Geelong life Rob has again taken on a local cinema manager’s roll, “Geelong will always be in my heart, I head back to LA hopefully mid-year to finalize the next stage of the new film series and other franchise elements for the Ninjaverse.”

Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photo: supplied