Blue Ruin offers a different approach to the typical American revenge story. Writer/director/cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier and lead actor Macon Blair joined Locarno Thursday afternoon to discuss the challenges and freedom in the making of this unique American feature.
Previously a cinematographer, Saulnier was able to evaluate many directors and formulate his own approach to directing based on their successes and failures. Two of the most important facets of a good production, he observed, are relatively unknown actors and plenty of time to shoot. To accomplish this, the director cast his good friend, Macon Blair, as the lead and gave himself a thirty day shooting schedule- opposed to the usual 15 he was accustomed to working with.
With a relatively low budget of one million dollars, the filmmakers were fortunate enough to have free access to many locations. Adversely, the crew had the obstacle of funding all other aspects of the film. Sponsors did not want to support a film without projected international star power made by two friends. To abate the lack of funds, the duo turned to Kickstarter. The internet crowd funding site helped them, but did not cover the full million. Personal credit card debt was accrued to make up the difference.
Lack of funding from extrinsic donors freed the director to pick his own casting and to flesh out the story without pressure to add action flick clichés that are more marketable. Working with his longtime friend allowed Saulnier to communicate with facials and gibberish and still get a spot on performance.
Although Saulnier received positive feedback for the film at a two hour assembly with the Sundance festival programmers, Blue Ruin was denied. Eager to premiere the film the director used the Cannes Film Festival submission deadline to prepare a new cut for the following year's Sundance. To the crew's surprise the film was accepted into the Director's Fortnight.
Reflecting on the financial obstacles of production and where the film is now, Saulnier seems pleased with the end result and the process of getting it. He remarks that had the production more money, he would have wanted to keep the film the same, but would have felt immense pressure to do otherwise.Katelyn Trott