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.
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.