Interview with Filmmaker Lyla Ruth (MEMORIAM)

Directed by Lyla Ruth
My dad passed away recently and I’ll be completely honest here, watching him die slowly from cancer is a hell I would not wish on my worst enemy. Family and friends ask me how I am feeling, or how I am handling it all. In actuality, the emotions are too intense to verbalize.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Well, here’s the true story. My father had a very rare form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma. It made him extremely confused. My father was a 6’3” Buffalo Fire Chief, who ironically was incredibly claustrophobic. He could not do an MRI. In order to get him to do it, I had to lay in the bed with him for 25 minutes and hold his hand. He had medication to distract from the enclosed space and the sounds, I did not. I noticed a really interesting rhythm with the machine. And in between the rhythm I would breathe to try and slow down his breath. Later that evening I recorded the rhythm in my head in a few different time signatures. I called my friend Buck Snow, a Grammy Award winning sound engineer, and together we created the beat. It’s a reverse heart beat. I needed a place to channel my emotions while handling the daunting task of being the caretaker of my parents. Thus, the video was born.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We started in March and finally completed the project on Aug 21. After that I had some color grading to do and I posted the video the 2nd week of September. The actual filming did not take very long. It was really the coordination of getting everyone together as we all live in different states. And the video you see is the 2nd video that was shot. We filmed the first one on a beach in Florida, and due to a series of things out of our control including the wind being way too strong to dance, I decided to reshoot it in Oregon at my friend Doug Silton’s house.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

My voice

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Getting us all together to do it! We are all working professionals in our field. Doug and Stephen are Champion Swing Dancers and Leify is a traveling musician.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I honestly cried. It was so beautiful to hear the different interpretations.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I have been making dance videos for a little while now, this is factually the first big project I have completed. I am normally a stage producer.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Honestly, I think probably the Godfather.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I am really enjoying the experience so far. I can probably add more to this after we have completed all of the steps.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Wonderful. It’s been very easy to use and very rewarding.

10. What is your favorite meal?


11. What is next for you? A new film?

Two new film projects, a book, and getting my show “It Don’t Mean A Thing, A Tribute to Swing.” Up and running again. I had to take a break when my father was sick.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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