Written by Kali Cook
Hollywood is the place where dreams are made, as the saying goes. That may be true, but it also takes hard work and vision, and maybe some splashes of luck along the journey. As a visionary filmmaker, Nathan Ruegger possesses all these qualities.
Coming from an entertainment family, he was lucky to see that success is possible in this business. He saw early success himself as a young voice over actor on the animated show “Animaniacs”. His own work as an actor helped shape his vision of how to be a hands-on director and pull amazing, true-to-reality performances from his actors. His hard work and determination to make a film that truly speaks for those who may not always be able to tell their story is bringing him accolades for his film “Another Life” which recently screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Nathan for a Q & A interview.
Kali Cook: How was the casting process for Another Life?
Nathan Ruegger: This film was cast-dependent. We hired an amazing casting director, Cheryl Faye, who has worked with Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi. We spent a while with the breakdowns, called in about 200 hundred actors and narrowed that down to approx. 10 actors for each part in the callbacks.
KC: What were you looking for in the lead role of Angela? The actress you choose was incredible.
NR: The most important thing was that she be believable as being in Iraq killing people, yet also vulnerable and likable.
KC: That is a lot to ask for, what stood out with Tracy?
NR: I think what stood out the most was the way I could see the whole movie on her face without her saying a word.
KC: And Robert, what was key in choosing him to play Scott?
NR: Robert actually made us cry with his audition. We managed to hold it in until he left the room.
KC: What type of prep did you do with these two before filming? Their chemistry exploded on screen.
NR: We rehearsed for about a week and they both had their own processes with becoming the characters. For example Tracy took her uniform home to wear it and immerse herself with being a veteran.
KC: Can you tell us a little about the other actors?
NR: Harrison’s scene is so complicated, he plays the mob boss and has the job of setting up the whole story, as well as this character needing to scare people almost to death. Bobbie, who plays Kaylie is just adorable and so easy to work with. She played the scene perfectly when she knows her Dad has been killed, it shows in her eyes so subtlety.
KC: What made you interested in writing this film?
NR: I love crime dramas and thrillers, they interest me the most. I didn’t want to just make a fun movie, I wanted it to tell a real story.
KC: You absolutely accomplished that. Lets talk directing for a moment. What would you say your style on set is?
NR: Soft spoken. Very focused. I like to work with each actor individually to get the moments the scene calls for.
KC: The colors of the film are so “real” and beautiful, what inspired this?
NR: Jay Visit and I have similar styles, very easy going, so we work well together. We chose the colors for Tracy’s world, thinking in terms of cold, blues, shadows. Robert’s world is warm, bright and yellows.
KC: I have to say, the ending surprised me. Did you always know that is how you wanted it to end?
NR: I wrote 20 drafts of the script. I grappled with how to end it. A mentor had told me that a short needs to be emotional 1 or 2 moments. Angela is trapped, can’t see a way out.
KC: Do you have a particular message you would like viewers to leave with after watching Another Life?
NR: Very much so, “Talk to someone”. Angela could not see a way out, she felt done. She should have talked to someone. Reached out. I want people to see and know that we aren’t alone. To reach out to someone before it becomes too late, no matter what that is.
KC: In closing our interview, what would you say was something influenced you growing up?
NR: My grandfather was an actor and a director, my Dad is a producer, Mother, actress. Each of them taught me and showed me different areas and I gained endless knowledge from their particular perspective.
For more info on the film and Nathan Ruegger, visit: www.anotherlifefilm.com.
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Written by Kali Cook