Interview with Director Jay Moussa-Mann

Last year I interviewed 5 upcoming film directors who were working on their debut feature films. One of those directors was Jay Moussa-Mann who was in pre-production on her independent feature film ‘Ruth The Musical’.

This is a follow-up interview with Jay to learn more about how she completed her film that is now available to watch on Amazon Prime - Watch Here.

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What progress have you made over the past 12 months?

We delivered the film to our distributors VisionVideo a month or two later than expected around May. The editing and colouring process was gruelling and seemed to go on forever. I did the editing myself, so I felt extremely lonely from September to April after shooting the film. The film has now been released on Amazon Prime where it’s currently available to watch and the DVD comes out in October this year. 

It’s been a bit of a weird one because technically the film is out but not really and so lots of people ask about it but we can’t really give them anything other than tell them to watch it on Prime. That’s a part no one tells you. 

We are currently having the film subtitled into Turkish too, which is going to be great to open it up to another audience like that. 

Do you have any advice for filmmakers making their first feature films?

When you are scheduling, MAKE SURE you book in a long break after filming. So give yourself a month or even two between shooting and starting the edit. I gave myself 3 weeks when I realised how tired I was but it did set me back as I had not scheduled it in. 

I would also say, just for your own sanity, try not to shoot on a schedule of 6-7 pages a day if at all avoidable. We did but we couldn’t avoid it. Another way was not affordable. I mean, tbh, I can give you advice but it won’t matter. You have to experience it and make the mistakes yourself. 

Everything I would do differently was down to budget and being able to have more time (time was directly affected by available funds).

I would also advise story boarding. I would film scenes with myself or my husband to block it out before talking to anyone else so I knew it would work and what I wanted. Steadicam shots I would work out with the mobile Zhiyun 2 and that was a saviour for a lot of scenes. I could send what I shot to the Steadicam op and DP ahead of time so they could get what I was going for and it was much more helpful than explaining with writing or words. 

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What projects will you be working on in 2020?

I am easing back into a few freelance filmmaking jobs this year but I am actually wanting to take a long break from filmmaking and focus on writing and my music.

Although I love making films, I don’t like the industry, I don’t enjoy the high maintenance, obsession with glamour and how actors should look a certain way or what cameras you should use and always wanting more. I feel like the industry breeds a grumpy, discontented type of person who is often negative about the production and I hated the producing side of filming. I couldn’t take the stress of paying people, hiring people and managing their time and emotions. I also hated the way there’s an underlying attitude that the producers are somehow “hiding money away” in order not to pay crew or provide more equipment. I did extra freelance jobs in order to cover food costs and I feel that stuff is often totally ignored.

Although I absolutely love the film we made and I had such a good time with the actors and we had a wonderful crew, the stress of it all broke my spirit a little. Which is why I want a job that I can do quietly away from people for a while. 

I do wish there was some organisation which existed for debriefing producers and directors post-production on an indie level. I think it’s important for people’s mental health and to bounce off others who have already been through it. 

As for me, I’m actively looking for freelance writing work and currently working on a new music album which comes out October 6th.  I do have a few more films and a TV series in a notebook by my bed, but we’ll see what happens with those. We’ll just see... 

You can find out more about Ruth The Musical on the films official website here. Follow Jay on Twitter & YouTube