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Interview with director Ruby Challenger

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

My father is a filmmaker, so I suppose it’s always been in my blood. My mum tells me that my first ever outing as a baby was to a film set!

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I hope not, because I didn’t! I think there are definitely areas where it’s vital to have a grounding in technical know-how and school can be a great way to access this if you have no connections in the industry. But really, it ismy firm belief that you can learn everything by putting yourself out there, volunteering your time and listening and learning everything you can on the job – that’s how I learnt.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

I’m still conquering the getting started bit! I have worked for many years on set as an Art Director, so I am incredibly familiar with how a set runs. But when it comes to Directing, I am still figuring it out, and have decided to focus my attention on small projects initiated by me, like “Daily Bread”.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

Nothing trumps hard work. This lesson was a slow burn that you realise over the years.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?How long have you got?

The realities and surprises are too many to number. The best way to navigate them is with an open mind, listen to the people bringing the p

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Honestly, every decision is both the hardest and easiest. I think art making is a series of tough decisions and compromises – but they are all great, and if you take the right outlook, all of these decisions make the film stronger. Probably the most drawn out decision was about the score. We had an original score produced, had to let it go, then cut together another version with found music, then let that go in the end also!

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

You have to be inspiring and generous and bring people on the crazy ride with you – because film making is crazy, and everyone has to have their heart an soul in it to make it work. Listen to people! It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but if you don’t listen, no one will listen to you. Be willing to take risks that they suggest, even at the expense of your own Fantastic ideas 😉 And also know when to park an idea … You are also not their lackey.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

I think deep down all audience want is good story. It doesn’t matter what production value you have – if you don’t have a great story, well told, with engaging characters, you’ve got nothing. Is this what the main stream audience wants? Not so much these days with the big block busters that are all action based. Should the filmmaker worry? It depends what kind of work you want to be doing! If you want to work for the big studios and Netflix, then yeah – your whole job is to care about the audience. If you want to make art, you should be concerned with making a great film.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Festivals are so important. They are a great way to cram watch an incredible line up of films – every festival I have attended with “Daily Bread”, I have made a point of watching the whole line up of films. What better way to learn than by immersion! They are vital to filmmakers as they are the avenue that most of us will ever get our work screened.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Be whoever you are. Nothing is black and white – you can’t be purely fresh because all art is a reaction to or against classic art, the current zeitgeist etc. You should first accept that you are part of a long line of history, that stretches out behind and in front of you. Make the art you need to make.