Ry Russo-Young’s You Wont Miss Me is a definite indie success story. After debuting at Sundance in 2009, it screened at SXSW, won the Gotham Award for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You and has been picked up by the Brooklyn-based company Factory 25, which will release the film digitally, on DVD and in a limited edition DVD/LP set. Russo-Young and Tiny Furniture director Lena Dunham were then chosen to participate in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab for their script Nobody Walks, which Russo-Young will direct in early 2011. That’s a lot of recognition crammed into a short period of time, but the recognition is well-deserved.

Russo-Young took the time to answer MovieMaker‘s questions about You Wont Miss Me and Nobody Walks.

For more information visit www.ryrussoyoung.com or www.youwontmissme.com.

Rebecca Pahle (MM): You Wont Miss Me won the Gotham Award for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. What impact has that had, both on the film and your career in general?

Ry Russo-Young (RRY): The Gotham Award helped bring attention to the film. I think people were more curious and it helped secure the unique DVD/LP distribution with Factory 25.

MM: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing today’s independent moviemakers when it comes to distribution?

RRY: The distribution outlets are very limited. Sometimes I feel like a hunter in search of diamonds; they’re not readily available and require digging. Tonight a friend told me about an experimental animator from the 1930s/1940s named Norman McLaren. His short animations and multiple exposures blew my mind, but I’d be hard pressed to find his work in theaters, and had never heard of him before tonight. There are many amazing people we haven’t heard of yet. It’s tricky to find the gems. Distribution is part of that.

MM: You’ve studied acting and photography. You’ve served as a director, editor and executive producer, and now you’ve co-written the script for Nobody Walks with Lena Dunham. Is there any role on a film set that you absolutely would not like to take on?

RRY: I don’t think there’s anything on set I wouldn’t do, but for now I just want to focus on directing Nobody Walks. For the first time, I’m making a movie in a more traditional sense, the process is slower and I’m not wearing as many hats. In the past I usually did the other jobs on set out of economic necessity, other times because I didn’t know any better and sometimes because I enjoyed them, often a combination of all three. I’m realizing now though, partly through some commercial work and through this new film, that I can still be extremely involved in the set dressing without having to physically dress the set. This was a big realization for me even though it seems pretty basic.

MM: You and Dunham are fellows for the 2010 Sundance Screenwriters Lab for Nobody Walks; what has your experience been with that?

RRY: Going to the lab and working with incredibly smart and generous advisers was a special experience. It’s not just the advisers it’s the other fellows like Dash Shaw, Lance Edmands or Sean Durkin. Michelle Satter is the beautiful presence raining over all, setting the tone of creative splendor. It’s a magical place to work and grow and I feel very lucky to have been included.

MM: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about moviemaking? What’s the one piece of advice you’d share with up-and-coming moviemakers?

RRY: When I was recently at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, one of our advisors was Susan Shilliday. She talked about “the texture of reality”, and it really stuck with me. Making all the details feel real and articulated the way life is. There is a history behind every object in our home, how we got that photograph, why you like the purple carpet, how you take care of your plant and why you water it so much and on and on. All those little choices make the characters real.