Young filmmaker finds inspiration at festival

| 07/07/2017
CNS Local Life

Grace and Scott Ruby with a Nikki’s Voice poster

(CNS Local Life): When Grace Ruby submitted her documentary short, Nikki’s Voice, to the Cayman International Film Festival, chances are she never imagined that her film would be viewed by a major Hollywood screenwriter. While the winner of the 2016 Young Image Makers award came away without a trophy at CayFilm 2017, she was rewarded in a less tangible, but certainly memorable, way by being publicly praised by James V Hart of Contact, Hook and Bram Stoker’s Dracula fame.

Ruby’s film, which premiered at CayFilm, chronicled the training for and participation in the January Mercuryman triathlon by assisted-racing duo, father, Scott Ruby, and his partner, Nikki Christian, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

After an injury and surgery to his knee, marathoner Ruby was undergoing physical therapy and worrying about if he would be able to do a next race, his daughter explained.

“Then he heard next door Nikki Christian doing her physical therapy just to try to be able to walk. And he realised that maybe he should do something bigger,” she said, and so the seeds for Nikki’s Voice were planted.

The audience who viewed the finished project was clearly moved by the emotional story of the pair, evidenced by the questions and comments during the Q&A session at the end of the film, including, notably, by Hart.

“I just want to say that you covered like a mini-Olympics for $1.98 and it would be easy to say just show up and cover it but you involved everybody emotionally as part of the cast, and players found that soul there so really very moving, as it grows on you…Congratulations,” he told the young filmmaker.

CNS Local Life

James V Hart and Grace Ruby after her film premiered

The project was quite a step up from her previous three-minute film. “Just editing itself was a monster because I went from three minutes to 27 minutes in one year and apparently I edited it the hardest way you can,” Ruby, 18, explained.

To add to the challenge, she had to go through two years of footage, including from the three cameras she used on race day, various iPhones and “different cameras from different places”.

Ruby spoke of the involvement of her family (mother, Miles, and sister Lauren were part of the crew) and Nikki and her parents, and how the project was a large team effort, adding how proud she was to be able to do “a really good job telling their story…We realised how big our team was so I wanted to make sure the whole team was included and that our mantra, ‘Pushing the limits’ and that anyone can do anything, was really there”.

It was evident she adhered to the team’s mantra during the shoot, as she described the challenges of filming the race: “Working with a moving vehicle while filming. The long, long hours. The race itself was 7½ hours. In fact, my knees got sunburned, only my knees. And the long editing”.

The vehicle was her father’s truck. “We were in the back of my dad’s pick-up truck with four chairs, two Black Magic cameras tied on and I was trying to walk around with my Canon. For the race, my mom wasn’t very good with brakes and my sister Lauren almost fell out of the truck going up a little hill,” she recalled.

When asked how the project affected her, Ruby became emotional, saying through tears, “I think it’s impossible to do this kind of project without it changing you a little bit. It meant so much to me.”

Despite the challenges and difficulties of the shoot itself and the editing process, Ruby pointed to Hart’s comments as all the motivation she needs to continue on her artistic path.

“It made my day, my month, my entire year. It was amazing. I look up to him and he made any doubts I had about my future in filmmaking go away,” she said.

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Category: Arts, Film

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