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Ambitious alumnus debuts film

Published: December 6, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.


Having written, directed and produced the film “Wild Ruse,” David French ’13 eagerly anticipates the premiere of the surrealist heist film, an ambitious project which required approximately 10 months to produce and involved the near arrest of the entire cast while filming. Depicting a dramatic armed robbery complete with violence, gunshots and a chilling pig mask, the trailer leaves audiences curious to see more.

French, who worked in collaboration with several Brandeis students to develop the ambitious project, explains, “the film explores themes on how people define themselves and make their choices, and their role as actors in that story.” According to French, the plot focuses on “Damien, a former undercover cop,who hires a seedy thief named Red to help him pull a heist on a notorious gangster, known as The Wolf. Damien wants documents proving The Wolf’s involvement in conspiracy, while Red is set on stealing The Wolf’s soul.”

Although an exact date has not been determined for the premiere of the film, French expressed the desire to host a special Brandeis screening for members of the cast, crew and friends in the spring. Opting for a world debut as well, French and the remainder of the cast have entered the film in several major film festivals as well, including the South by Southwest Film Festival.

When questioned to elaborate on the title “Wild Ruse,” French explained, “It is a ruse that goes wildly wrong,” while suggesting that there is an “idea in there about what ‘wildness’ means in human nature. Damien’s name can be a hint.” As for the significance behind the pig masks, he remained elusive, only hinting they bore symbolic meaning.

Devoting his winter break in 2012 to writing the film, French pulled several all nighters to create the script. Beginning initial preparation stages for production in January, French and the cast filmed from the months of March to May. Finishing the final stages of production in October, French said, “Honestly, it feels a bit like giving birth.”

When questioned about the difficulties that arose during filming, French said, “There’s a lot of moving parts. Cast, crew, location scheduling, budgets, costuming, props, equipment rental, transportation, every little detail that you never have to think about while watching a film. Oh man transportation was a pain. It takes a lot of things to make a film so getting them all lined up is sort of a 100 meter dash on a balance beam.”

“Making things is hard, and a lot of times we try to get around it by sheer lateral brainpower,” French said.

Aside from the technical involved in filming, French revealed that the crew also encountered a near run in with the law as well. “We were shooting a robbery scene on location in Waltham and they thought it was the real deal. Definitely should have planned better on that one. We were cornered by 4 cars within a span of about 10 seconds,” French stated. Jokingly commenting on this close encounter, he said, “I would not recommend the life of a criminal with that kind of response time.”

When asked to explain the intended audience for the film, French commented, “maybe I can just say I made the film that I would like to see. That’s not exactly a groundbreaking answer but it’s true.”

Noting the laborious process of filming and the near run in with the law, French nevertheless urges students interested in producing films to do so, stating “DIY it. You have the technology, and the only thing holding you back is you not doing it.” As for advice, he recommends those interested read “Rebel Without a Crew,” a memoir of Robert Rodriguez’s first movie, and “Art and Fear.” French emphasized the need for perseverance and dedication, revealing that Rodriguez “had been told you have to write 2 bad scripts before you can write a good one. I’ve heard it said by photographers you have to take 10,000 pictures before you can take your first decent one. So you might as well start burning through those scripts, photos, movies, paintings, short stories and macaroni sculptures fast. The solution isn’t a trick or technique. It’s getting down to brass tacks and doing it.”