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Brandon Robinson, recent WUJS Israel participant

Brandon Robinson, recent WUJS Israel participant
Portland, OR, 28 years old

What do you do when you're not in Israel?
I'm a freelance video producer and am putting the finishing touches on a short film. I directed, wrote, and acted in it in addition to composing the score. I'm in the process of submitting it to film festivals.

How did you decide to go on WUJS?
I had zero Jewish background or knowledge. Luckily, I found out about Birthright maybe a month before I became ineligible. One day before I turned 27, I landed in Israel. I really learned a lot on the trip that opened me up to the country. I fell in love with Israel and very much wanted to come back. It was just a matter of finding the right fit so I could live here as an artist. Then I discovered the WUJS Arts Track.

I understand something significant happened to you while on the program.
I made an artistic video while on WUJS, a time lapse of the country. The theme was "what makes a home a home." I had been thinking about this subject a lot, feeling so connected to this place and not understanding why, seeing that I'm not very religious and didn't know much about it before I came. Israel now feels like a second home to me and I wanted to explore it artistically. I took as many shots of the country as I could, several of them representing what you have to do to build a home and what about that place speaks to you.

The video just went viral. Somehow, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs found out about it and published it on their website. From there, a tour operator called Routes Travel got in touch with me, hoping to make a similar video for their company. Ironically, I went on Birthright with Routes so they had actually met me before. Long story short, I'll be heading back to Israel in early May to spend two months filming and producing.

You probably didn't expect coming on WUJS to lead to a job.
It's great. The travel company called me in for a meeting to see what we could do together and we agreed on the terms. They'll be paying me for a number of videos in the same style as the one I made while on WUJS. They liked my photography and wanted me to create something highlighting their tourism and what they offer.

I'm expecting to work on it through the end of July and I'll stay until I complete it. On top of that, I'm going to staff one of their Birthright trips which gets me a flight to Israel and back. I may extend the trip for myself, especially if this leads to more work .

So what was the best part about the WUJS program?
It was just amazing; I couldn't have asked for anything better. The arts track was perfectly geared to what I wanted to do and allowed me to spend six months making whatever art I wanted to make. I connected with a lot of helpful people, leading to my upcoming trip back. Just being able to travel around the country, going everywhere you can imagine was great. For what we got, I paid a miniscule amount of money. The museums, the trips…and the art director Ofra was irreplaceable.)

Do you know what your future plans are?
I am definitely open to possibilities. I plan on being in Israel for a year if not longer. I want to explore my options and see if I can find a niche in Israel. If it doesn't work, I can always go back to LA and freelance.

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