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Filmmaker Q & A – Ryan Barton-Grimley (writer/director of THE TRUTH)

1. Please explain your inspiration and point of view when you first started developing and collaborating on THE TRUTH and why you made this film. How or what prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

My inspiration for THE TRUTH was a story that a good friend and ex-writing partner Matt K. Turner told me about.  A giant searchlight kept on invading his front yard in Venice one night and his mind raced with ideas into the wee hours of the morning. Matt developed a story around that searchlight and what it was trying to find in his house. From there, I got involved and together, we thought, what if someone was in the house for more than just an escape, and what if…. It just goes and goes. Through the writing process of fleshing out an intricate plot, that brought back my obsessions with mystery novels that I possessed as a kid.  I realized that in actuality, I was examining people’s subjective reality and how they remember what happened to them, exploring the notion of “their truth.”  Additionally, I wanted to explore the emotional and sexual dynamics of a married couple, how “THE TRUTH” or some version of it is the foundation for the relationship, and how an outsider can invade that and call it all into question without ever really saying anything.

2. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Being an immigrant from Zimbabwe that moved here as an almost teenager, I have always felt identity-less and much of an outsider. Consequently, I always examined life through people and their stories, trying to figure out how I can fit in better and assimilate.  Additionally, I am obsessed with art and images and how life is depicted.

3. What do you want the audience to ‘take away’ after they have seen the film?

Besides the entertaining roller coaster ride of an experience that only a really twisted Noir can provide, I would like the audience to ask themselves, “What is my truth?” and “How far would I go to protect it?”

4. What is your relationship to the cast of this film?

I am a fan and I can’t work any other way as a director. After studying acting, working in the theater, and being obsessed with film and television for many years, you become a fan of certain actors. I’m a real fan of all of the actors in THE TRUTH. John Heard, since I saw him in Cutter’s Way, shot in my adopted hometown of Santa Barbara, along with almost everything he’s ever done. He’s just one of those guys that has done tons of stuff. He’s great in everything and always brings a new take to the material… a real journeyman. Brendan Sexton III starred in Welcome to the Dollhouse and Boys Don’t Cry, two of my favorite films from the nineties. He just always struck me as hyper-real and edgy, but still with a soul. I met him and he was Gabriel. I saw Daniel Baldwin on Homicide years ago and he was so great.  Then, when casting brought him up, I was lucky enough to catch him in an episode of THE CLOSER and he was so powerful and electric. I had to work with him. He carries a weight on screen that is so rare these days. For the role of Dana/Christine, we set out on discovering somebody new.  What we found was somebody that had extensive experience in TV and was just absolutely stunning. Erin Cardillo auditioned against literally hundreds of other actresses and time and time again, she brought new dimensions to the character and blew us away with her work and her timeless sultry noir look and feel. She was the final piece to fit the puzzle.

5. What is the most important message in this film to you?

You can not escape your “Truth”. It is fate. It is fatal.

6. Please address the music in the film. How did these choices come about?

Because I hate being told what to feel, I wanted to respect the audience and give them a space to experience. I wanted to use electronic because I wanted to do something truly modern and I don’t feel that traditional scores can do that with traditional instruments.

7. How did you become a filmmaker? Please explain your history in filmmaking.

I was an actor and an artist, so my approach is probably more experiential. I embrace the DIY ethic fully and I think there’s no better way to learn than picking up a camera and shooting.

8. How do you think THE TRUTH fits into your personal growth as a director? How will it affect your future projects?

THE TRUTH is like my childish, rebellious subconscious, my mid to late twenties working itself out right in front of me where a conviction for critical integrity is serious.

9. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on the pre-production of a film called ELIJAH’S ASHES. It’s a film that explores the relationship of brothers to each other, as well, with their deceased father. Basically, two estranged brothers reconnect at their father’s funeral and end up going on a journey to fulfill their Dad’s last, dying wish. Along the way, they get in trouble, get to know each other again, fight, make peace, and even learn some stuff. It’s an anti-epic road movie that is very funny, heartfelt and very real.

10. Share something unique about the film.

Shooting wise… the film location was actually at my In-Law’s house and we had to move every item of furniture out, refurnish the entire house, and put their stuff back exactly like it was. It was nuts.

11. What are some of your favorite films and what are your other creative influences?

NAKED by Mike Leigh … You can really see its influence on THE TRUTH; two more films that have heavily influenced me are “Funny Games” and “Death and the Maiden.”  In addition, fine art paintings and photography are my biggest visual influences outside of film.

**The Truth is available on DVD 8/24/2010.  Buy it, Rent it, or Queue it up today!**



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This entry was posted on August 19, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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