Hello Ramuel, welcome to Focus! It is great to have you here!
Tell us how you got into films!
Thank you for having me! As a kid, I would write stories that would take me to imaginative worlds. Then, I became interested in magic and illusions. I would watch the behind the scenes featurettes to my favorite movies, studying how these artists would create magic on screen for me. One day, a friend introduced me to a camera set for kids called Digital Blue. It was essentially a webcam with basic editing software. With that, we made a film, and I was hooked instantly. Since then, I’ve been upgrading my cameras, software, and skill set. I still feel the same spark and magic as I did then.
She’s Fine is brilliantly made. Tell us how the idea came to you?
Thank you so much! I had a friend with a roommate who’s dog would bark almost exclusively at men. Visitors would constantly ask her if the dog was alright and she would respond, “She’s fine.” After about a year, someone finally suggested that her dog may be blind. I turned to the dog, and she was struggling to jump off of the couch since she couldn’t see how far away the floor was. Everything clicked. But the roommate simply responded with, “She’s fine.” I thought, “We’re just trying to help your dog! You’re not even going to look into it?” And then came the idea: what if we come home one day and the dog is dead one her lap. Would she just respond with, ‘She’s fine’? And what if she stood up and the dog fell onto the floor CLEARLY dead. Would she still be in such denial? The power of denial really stuck me there and how a stranger could care for more for a creature than the caretaker. So I started writing it with that scene in mind. And I wanted to make it an all female cast in honor of the dog who didn’t like men.
Ramuel, tell us how long did it take to complete the whole film? How did it feel after it?
Well, I had the idea since 2017, but pitched it in May 2021. We completed the film in February 2022. So either five years or 9 months depending on if you consider the ideation or creation as the beginning of the process. It still feels unfinished sometimes. There are things I want to change or fix. But overall, I’m so immensely proud of it. It’s the best work I’ve done to date and was so fun to make. The production designer told me the final product was the exact film I pitched to her, and that to me is the greatest compliment as a director.
Ramuel, as a director, what kind of movies do you want to make?
I want to make movies about the unseen and unheard people on this earth. That’s why I find serial killers fascinating. People who knew them say they seemed ordinary or were quiet and nice, but I think that’s because they didn’t want to see the truth underneath. I’m always in search of the truth. That’s also why I love stories based on true life events and people. Most of my stories start with either someone I know or an event that happened. I think root me and carry the film into really interesting spaces.
In She’s Fine, we see you explore the nuances of friendship. What does friendship mean to you?
Friendship these days is very important to me. They are people I trust will accept me no matter what. It’s hard being vulnerable and sharing myself with people. I usually do that through my art. But, with friends, I feel safe. So I cherish them when I find them. But my road to friendship was never easy. I was very much a loner growing up, or at least I felt alone. That’s what inspired both characters: the loner and the lonely. I sort of split myself into these two characters who feel as one by the end. That’s the lesson that Caroline was teaching Chelsea by the end; that they have more in common than they thought. And now they are forever bonded by this traumatic event.
What is your favourite movie genre?
I don’t really have one favorite genre. I love movies with mixed tones. But based on my latest viewing habits, I love comedies (especially dark ones), horror (cosmic or supernatural that isn’t too gorey), thrillers, mysteries, good action, and a good ole drama.
In the movie, we see how brilliantly the actresses perform. How did you select them for their respective roles?
I met Katelyn Farrugia, who plays Chelsea, in 2018 when I was living in Atlanta. We had talked about working together since then, but then I moved to New York which is where I met Hannah Elless, who plays Caroline. I met Hannah through filming a docu series. I filmed her painting a new abstract painting every week for three months. While filming, we discussed life, art, everything under the sun. It had been three years since I had made a short and was itching to film another. So, I pitched her the idea. I chose her as the killer because of her painting abilities. I thought that would be an interesting way for the killer to be expressing her trauma and essentially it’s her cry for help. Since I knew I wanted to make it an all female cast, I immediately thought of Katelyne for Chelsea. Katelyn has this dry wit and sarcasm that I thought would fit perfectly in the role. For the Vet, I cast Holly Morris, who I worked with on my web series. She is just so willing to take a leap with whatever character I write for her. And that openness made me write the role of Vet specifically for her to have fun with.
The movie has an eerie, suffocating atmosphere all throughout. How did you end up with this particular colour palette for the movie?
I started with the blood. That deep, haunting red. And then when we were scouting locations, this house with the blue wallpaper came up. It was just a perfect contrast to the red paintings we would hang all around.
Ramuel, the ending of the movie surely elevates the thriller factor. But if you were asked to change it a bit, how would you do it?
Funny you should ask. That was a point of contention between me and the other producers. We continuously struggled with whether or not to show the dog at the end or not. I’m okay with not showing the dog at the end, but I wish that maybe I had Caroline smile at the end, showing that her denial of the traumatic event is setting in and will change her forever. I think it would have brought back a bit more of that comedic tone instead of it feeling so heavy by the end.
It was nice talking to you! Lastly, it would be great if you share what you would bring in the future for us!
I’m currently writing my first feature and developing a few television series. I always have 10 ideas flowing in my brain. So I’m finally putting them to paper. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you! All the best for your journey!