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The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival

The MovieMaker Sundance Survey 2017: The Scoop on 19 Films Playing Park City at the 33rd Festival


Crown Heights (U.S. Dramatic Competition)

Who: Matt Ruskin, director, writer and producer

Logline: When Colin Warner is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend Carl King devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence.

The length of the shoot was: five days

Our crew size was: about 60 people

Our camera, lenses and lighting package were: Arri Alexa, Cooke anamorphics

The first spark of an idea for this movie came when: I heard Anya Bourg’s amazing piece on This American Life. The story blew me away.

My favorite scene (or shot) in the film is: the ones that end up being far better than what I had envisioned. It’s a great feeling to discover something even better than what was in your head. One of those shots is a dream sequence we shot when Colin walks out of the prison to meet his wife.

Matt Ruskin

An audience watching my film probably won’t know that: many of the real people involved in the story allowed me to interview them as I was researching the film. It was invaluable in piecing together all of the many details of the story as I started to write the script.

An influence or reference on this film was: Bruce Davidson’s book Subway, a book of photographs that he shot in the early 1980s that beautifully captures that era in New York City.

The weirdest or most difficult location we shot at was: the prison locations, which were difficult for a bunch of reasons, but mainly because they are really cold, awful places to be. We kept joking that we’d shoot our next movie at a beach house somewhere.

The biggest lesson I learned making this movie was: Find great people to work with. We were incredibly fortunate to have an amazingly talented and good-humored group of people. Without them we never would have survived this shoot.

When I heard we got into Sundance I: called my producers and then my parents… in that order.

I’m most excited about seeing: as many films as humanly possible this year.

My favorite moviemaker of all time is: a long list. Here’s two–Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann.

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    Martin M

    January 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    After reading a couple articles in this new issue, I am becoming convinced I should allocate some of my budget for VFX! I am writing and directing a film about a cyber relationship between a man and a woman across two different galaxies, though one is unsure which lives on Earth, and I’m struggling with transitional scenes across the Milky Way.

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