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Film fest gearing up

January 20, 2010

I haven’t been posting lately because I have been consumed by my duties as assistant director of the Oxford Film Festival. If somehow you are not aware, it is coming up on February 4-7.

The festival is always a lovely time of year to meet new friends, visit with old friends and have interesting conversations with filmmakers from all over the country.

Tickets have just gone on sale and this year the fest has teamed up with Ticketleap, a service provider, to make the purchase process a lot smoother. Buying online is actually cheaper than waiting until the day of the fest to buy your pass. More information on this is at the Oxford Film Fest Web site.

But at Oxfordfilmfreak we are gearing up for some major coverage of the fest. I have asked Chad Larson (already a major contributor here) and Melody Watson to blog about the films and the festival (to try and be a little less biased than I). Some reviews will start going up shortly and then some live blogging the week of the fest.

Meanwhile, I want to share with you a short film from one of our filmmakers, Jeffrey Ruggles, who is attending the fest this year for his first time with the narrative feature, “Bicycle Lane.” Ruggles has been one of the most delightful filmmakers to e-mail back and forth with and is a shining example of how to interact with festival staff. He is polite, asks questions, reads the informative e-mails and asks how he can help us. LOVE IT. Anywho, check out his film at the fest but for now, watch his absurdly funny no budget short, “Too Much Peyote.”

I was curious how this filmmaker got his start so see below for a few quick questions with Jeffrey Ruggles:

Q: Why should anyone watch your movie?

Ruggles:

I think people should watch “Bicycle Lane” because it’s fun. I think that is missing a lot from “independent” films these days and we made a conscious effort to do something fun and interesting and poignant and honest and relatable. Plus, every actor in the film is a dime piece! Seriously. Lots of hot ladies and dudes in this flick. Also the music is great.

Q: Tell me a little about the DIY effect and your filmmaking sensibility?

Ruggles:

I think that when I was in high school and college there was a feeling that anyone could go out and make a film. All the festivals were still young and filmmakers were getting discovered overnight and being put in positions where they could make the films they wanted. Then the term “independent” was stolen by the studio system and now “independent” films are being made by Sony with budgets of $20-$30 million dollars!

There’s nothing really independent about it anymore. So, when I was ready to make a film I thought, “man, I can’t do this! Where am I going to get 30 million dollars and Paul Giamatti?”

So, I didn’t make a film. For a long time.

Then I started watching the movies of John Cassavetes and I heard about these mumblecore dudes and I realized that you just had to do it. Punk rock style. So I did. I thought of everyone that I knew that wanted to make a movie, I called them up and before I knew it we were running around Los Angeles making a film! Also, I love Paul Giamatti. Paul, if you read this, holler back. I have a part for you.

Q: What filmmakers inspire you? Why?

Ruggles: That’s a tough one. I love a lot of filmmakers, but there were some very specific inspirations for “Bicycle Lane.” I think just by watching the film people will be able to tell that I’m inspired by the Duplass Brothers and Aaron Katz. Just their aesthetic and DIY attitude were completely inspirational in getting this film made.

“Husbands and Wives” by Woody Allen was also a big inspiration. The way Carlo Di Palma shot that movie changed my life. Also the seeming non-chalance of the directing was life changing. Robert Altman was also a huge inspiration. He and Woody Allen both taught me that being a good director meant telling a good story. They showed me that it wasn’t just about cool shots or great angles. Those were all things that I really needed to see and hear and read before making “Bicycle Lane.” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” “Bicycle Lane” and “Lawrence of Arabia” have a lot in common.

Q: What are your plans for your visit in oxford? What do you hope to do, accomplish, eat, drink, etc?

Ruggles: I want to see films, eat bbq and see William Faulkner’s ghost. Also, I’ll be setting up a kissing booth after both screenings for anyone that wants to make out. It’s gonna be the bomb!

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