The relationship between a social media influencer and an aspiring filmmaker comes to a boiling point, before one pushes the other over the edge. This is the story of the new film of Derek Rucas.
After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in the Film Studies program, Rucas worked as a coverage report writer for Midori Multimedia, a purchasing broker of Hollywood motion pictures for territories in Asia. There he learned how to read, understand and analyze feature length screenplays for commercial appeal and potential.
Using his strong knowledge of screenplay structure, Rucas began writing short and feature scripts soon thereafter. He is currently working in Toronto as a video content producer and director. Rucas has produced some of his short screenplays into films, including John I’m Sorry, Your Fate Here and most notably, First Is The Worst, which won “Best Guerilla Short Film” at the Action on Film Festival in Los Angeles, California in 2016.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
I started making films at Queen's University when I was doing my undergraduate degree in Film Studies. A bunch of my friends in residence got together every now and then with a camcorder and we'd come up with impromptu storylines on the spot and film them. It was a lot of fun and really gave me the necessary practice to hone my skills down the road. These were the very first movies I made and I still smile when I think about those days.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a filmmaker and why?
I always love a good story that revolves around human relationships...so I suppose "drama", if we were to label it very, very broadly. Human behavior and relationships are intrinsic to our being, so I think stories that examine an unusual character dynamic or that want to delve into an unconventional relationship are the most interesting.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker in the film industry?
One the biggest challenges of being an independent filmmaker is having multiple duties during the filmmaking process. Obviously, with bigger budgets this becomes less of a problem. But you don't want to drop the ball at any point in the process, so making sure you do your best in all facets of the process (even if it isn't the most glamorous task) can be challenging.
How difficult is it to fund indie films?
Indie films are very difficult to fund, but where there's a will...there's a way!
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
If I were to pick three directors, I think I'd have to go with David Fincher, because his sense of timing and aesthetic is second to none. Quentin Tarantino is a master of dialogue and has a lot of fun with his characters, and third, maybe Stanley Kubrick; there's a lot to unpack with his films. They're very rich in subtext.
What inspired you to work on The Corner of Chaos and Serenity and how did the film go into production?
It had been a while since I produced my last award-winning short FIRST IS THE WORST, and so I came up with this story and thought it'd be a great little movie to do on a shoestring budget. I could've gone several different ways with it, but I thought to myself, "No, let's give these characters a real tug-of-war." I wanted to create a character dynamic with multiple layers and a rich backstory to draw from, so...I suppose THE CORNER OF CHAOS AND SERENITY was born out of that. For me, every film should mean something--even if it's something small--so I think CHAOS definitely checks that box.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film? Tell us more about the production of the film and working on the set of the film to create this feature.
Well, I went straight to Marc-André Miron, the producer who helped me with FIRST IS THE WORST. I asked him if he wanted to do CHAOS and he seemed happy to collaborate again, so the rest kind of fell into place from there. We did a self-tape casting call only (nothing was done in person). I thought to myself, "Since most of the movie takes place through cell phone video, these characters really have to be believable through the secondary lens of the cell phone." After going through roughly 100 self-tapes, we were ecstatic to get Michael Masurkevitch in the role of Jonathan and Liana Bdéwi in the role of Amy. Their talent really took the characters to a level that I was very happy with.
What do you recommend to other filmmakers regarding the distribution of independent feature films?
If you're making short films and are looking to distribute independently, it's best to take your time with the process. There will be a lot of options out there, some of which may promise a financial return. That said, it's always important to pick the best strategy for YOUR film. Think about your goals, and work from there. I took my time before deciding to self-distribute FIRST IS THE WORST, and we ended up on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and U.K. We chose to coincide a global release through Vimeo OnDemand. It was the best strategy for that particular film, but of course, everybody has different goals and maybe there is a better option for someone else.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
My next project is a feature that I'm currently in the process of getting funded. It'll be my first feature film so I'm really excited about that!
Why do you make films?
You know, that's a very good question. You really have to LOVE making films to keep making them because it's an uphill battle for many independent filmmakers. For me personally, I love the idea of having an original, crazy story that I want to share with the world. That sounds very cliché, I know, but a story with a vision you can get excited about will always produce the best results. I also think that since streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have become more popular, the need for content has never been greater. This is beneficial for indie filmmakers (and the audience), but I've found that the quality of films has certainly diminished. I want to make movies that people will want to watch a second time, rather than forget about the next day.