Ry Russo Young
What made you want to be a filmmaker?
What made me want to be a filmmaker was idea that stories can connect and change us as human beings. It’s an amazing phenomenon to me. The way that Charlie Chaplin can make jokes about fascism that can help galvanize thinking against tyranny. Or the way that a movie like Boys Don’t Cry can comfort a community while educating others. I believe in the power of art and love participating in this dialog that has existed for centuries.
What kind of projects do you want to be working on?
I want to work on material that is psychologically rich and complex, stories that move me emotionally and make me question the world around me. I think these are the movies that resonate with audiences and stay with you long after you leave the theater. This can take many forms in terms of genre, movies that do this for me are films like Chinatown, The Hurt Locker, The Social Network, Milk, Prisoners and Gravity but also movies like Ordinary People, Thelma and Louise and Shadow Of A Doubt.
What are you most proud of in your body of work?
I’m proud to work with people I respect and admire. Film is the most collaborative of the arts, requiring a complex range of disciplines working together. I’m proud of how the teams I work with synchronize and maximize everyone else’s creativity while maintaining a pleasant working environment. I push hard, but I’m not a screamer.
What are your strengths as a director?
I would hope that my strongest asset as a director is my curiosity. I love dissecting the material and thinking about what it all means from the ground up. Movies are made in prep and over the years I’ve developed an extensive prep process so that I can be super clear about the cascade of decisions that are required of a director. It’s more than a lot, but I find that if I really understand the story and it’s conceptual underpinnings then every one of those decisions can be honed to make the overall communication as potent as it can be. That’s my goal, a powerful and clear emotional story.
What’s your favorite film from childhood?
There are so many. The Wizard of Oz is a movie that has helped inspire imagination in me. I also loved Bringing Up Baby and All About Eve particularly because they had smart-talking women.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from another filmmaker?
80% of success is showing up.