When Ry Russo- Young called us yesterday from California, she apologized if she seemed a bit distracted: "I'm currently changing lanes on a 6-way freeway in Pasadena," she said. Luckily fielding our questions while simultaneously swerving in rush hour traffic wasn't really a problem. After all, this 29-year-old writer and director is used to having a lot of her plate. She already has six films under her belt, and her 2008 drama You Won't Miss Me was a critical favorite at Marfa Film Festival, SxSW, and Sundance. But in case you missed the movie in theaters, you can watch it next week when it finally comes out on DVD. Just in time for the release, Russo-Young filled us in.
Can we talk a little bit about You Won't Miss Me? How did it all come about?
I wrote the movie along with Stella Schnabel. I've been best friends with her older sister since I was 5 years old; we basically grew up on playdates. One day I ran into Stella after I'd finished my first movie and we decided to do something together. We just sat down and wrote the bio of the main character, Shelly Brown. I was captivated by this character we had created together.
How was it co-writing the movie?
It was really interesting co-writing it with the actress; it makes sense because the person that is going to play them has so many things that she can funnel into her character. In a way it was kind of an experiment. We made it for very little money, actors and non actors, and part of it was improvised.
What do you think of all the accolades that followed?
It doesn't mean anything...it doesn't. In a way if you care too much about what other people think, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. Ultimately it's about finding a movie that I believe in and that touches me personally. I hope that if it means something to me, then it will mean something to other people.
How does your writing process work?
Every project is different in terms of how it was made, just because of different projects demand different things. Sometimes if you have an idea -its so rare- but you can have an idea, and you can make it happen very quickly.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I was into acting when i was younger; it was just about being 5 years old and playing an imaginary game, where I'd make us stories about princesses and orphans and stuff like that. I was like, "Wow, acting is a condoned way of doing this!" And then my senior year of high school i realized that I could combine everything like characters, and images and stories in film. Movies are great because they bleed into so many other different fields.
What can you tell us about your next film, Nobody Walks?
I wrote it with Lena Dunham [of Tiny Furniture]. We grew up together. The movie has has John Krasinski and Olivia Thirlby, and I'm super excited about it all. I feel like my brain gets sharper when I shoot a movie because every little cell inside my brain is definitely used [laughing].
Who is on your iPod right now?
I love Beach House, Tom Waits, Glasser, and Guitars of the Golden Triangle.