Interview With Independent Filmmaker Maria Munro

By Ruth on January 9, 2017 in Interview, movie
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Before I made my trek to Vancouver back in November, I had the opportunity to interview a wonderful indie filmmaker team–Ross and Maria Munro. I was only able to publish my interview with Ross before I left, and I am incredibly pleased to now share my chat with his lovely wife, Maria. As one who is involved with the marketing/production side of films, Maria was able to share her own unique opinion concerning her views about and her experience with the indie film scene.

RH: It is great how I recently talked to your husband, and now I get to talk to you, Maria.

MM: Thank you so much for the opportunity.

You’re welcome. {pause} As I was l looking over what you’ve done, it looks like you’ve mainly been involved as a producer, art designer, costume designer–that seems to be the end you’ve handled. How did you get involved with doing this in the entertainment business?

I started off with architecture. That was what I studied. Then things changed in my life, and I decided years later that it was time to try something else. So I decided to become a graphic designer. Then I came to Canada and worked as a graphic designer in a company for years. But I was getting uninspired, and I knew I needed a change, but I didn’t know what to do. It was a point of decision in my life. So I thought, “I wonder if I can help Ross produce his film.” But I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not, so I just kept it to myself. I just thought, “You’re crazy. Forget it. Whatever.”

I forgot about it, but some time later, Ross came to me and asked, “Could you help me produce my film?” I thought, “Okay, there’s something here I need to look into.”  I looked into it, but I remember asking Ross, “Do you think I can do it?” And he said, “Yes, I think you can do it.”  So he had all this confidence in me, and I was like, “Okay, let’s try it.” So that’s how I started it. And when we got our first short film picked up by a film festival, I thought, “Okay, the universe is telling me to keep going.” And so I did.

I remember when I was talking with him that he told me you were a graphic designer and he said you were really great with that part of  it.  I think it’s fantastic that you both get to work together. I know that sometimes that does work out in the film industry, and sometimes it doesn’t. 

You have to put a lot of time and work into it and just decide that you’re going to do this. We could get caught up in the details that don’t make any difference, but we just decide we need to do this. And I should add that we both love movies. That was also important.

I know that some couples would not be able to work on a project like this. But it sounds like you both have found a way to make it work and not let it affect your relationship. 

Yes, we do. We got married, and after we had dinner with the family, what did we do? We went to the Vancouver International Film Festival. It is fun. We love it. We love to watch films. And if we can make them, oh my gosh, it’s even better. And I think working together doing this has brought us even closer together. I mean, don’t get me wrong. We argue sometimes, but then we decide to work it out. We make it work somehow; I don’t always know how, but we do. But it is really cool to work together.

So was Broken Palace the first thing you worked on together?

Yes, that is correct.

From your end, what was that experience like for you working on that film?

I was super excited and nervous. I doubted myself every step of the way. I didn’t know exactly what to do. I knew how to be a graphic designer, and I love fashion. I can’t always afford to be as fashionable as I would like to be, but I love fashion. So I told him I’d take care of the costumes. It was fun to take our leading lady to find something for her character to wear. It was a documentary, so for the art, I didn’t have to do much. But I took pictures and did all the graphic design. Everything about marketing for Broken Palace was super exciting. But I didn’t know where this was going to go. When we got accepted to the film festival, I was like, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! This is awesome!” It was really exciting to see what Broken Palace did. And I’m glad we started with a short film. We got a pat on the back, and we kept going. And the next thing we worked on was a feature film.

So what has been your experience with this feature film? 

It has been rewarding. A lot of work and a lot of learning as well. But I did it, and I’d do it again.

Now I know that Legacy of Whining is your most recent thing, but was there a feature before that?

When I met Ross, he had already made Brewster McGee. We got married, and he was in the process of marketing Brewster McGee. So I pitched in to help with the marketing with the poster, the website, and whatever else was needed. So I came when everything was done, and I just helped him out with the marketing. So in that sense, I did collaborate with him.

Then we did A Legacy of Whining. We actually made a music video called The Snotty Punks that is featured in A Legacy of Whining. We did the video just for fun. It’s quite funny actually. But while this is our most recent film, we are also trying to develop other projects as we search for funding to make these future projects happen.

Since A Legacy of Whining was your first feature to work on from the beginning, how was the experience when compared to Broken Palace?

When you’re doing a documentary like Broken Palace, you have a structure of what you want to do with the film, what you want to show. With a scripted feature film, you have a script to follow. You have to set up the shots, the costumes, the props, the sets, how many days you need for filming. It’s a little more structure, and it’s a little bit more rigid in that way. With a documentary, things come up that you may not have thought of in the beginning. It can be a bit more flexible. But with A Legacy of Whining, it was more, “We have to do this, and we have to do it at this time.” We needed to have everything that was needed so we could shoot when we were supposed to. So it’s completely different. And I love both actually.

Oh yeah. I would think that the fun part about doing a feature film is that you’re telling a story, and in your case, it’s a fiction story as opposed to a documentary that’s nonfiction. 

Yes, you’re right. Another difference is that with a documentary, you often need more time. It might take you months or years. With a feature, it happens much faster. You get the money. You shoot it. You edit it. And then you put it out. It’s quicker from that standpoint.

From what I’ve heard from other filmmakers, I understand that with a documentary you often overshoot, and you have lots of film to edit. And then with a feature, you have to just get in and do it. 

That is true. So now we’re at the point where A Legacy of Whining is going to film festivals. It’s gone to a couple, and we’ve gotten to meet other filmmakers and directors, and so you get to network and make connections, and that is really cool. We’re also working on distribution. There are a lot of phases to an independent film, and we are right now on the distribution part. Right now, A Legacy of Whining is available on Amazon Instant Video and Google Play, which means it is available in Canada, the UK, and Australia in addition to the U.S.

I love the fact that nowadays there are so many online platforms where a viewer like me can watch a film like that for a reasonable price. 

Yes, it is great, but there are two sides to that story. It is good to have these films available at our fingertips, but then again, now you have to work very hard on social media because there are so many other films competing against yours. So we need to make sure that our film is out there, visible, easy to find. But it’s good. I totally love it. I feel absolutely blessed that we found a distributor that is doing an absolutely great job and getting our film out there. That’s what we want. We want people to see it. Period. So yes, it’s good, but you have to put the work and time into it and make it visible for people to find. I’m very encouraged to see what is happening with this film and what’s coming.

I understand what you’re saying because I love my site, but I know how hard I have to work to get my site out there because there are so many others out there. Some days I feel like all I’m doing is promoting my website. I’m sure there are days you feel like all you’re doing is promoting your movie.

Oh, that is definitely true. It takes persistence. If you think of some of the amazing films you have seen, I can guarantee that these films were not made just like that. They went through plenty of rejection. Many times over. There is something about people that they don’t want to be the first person to agree to do something with a nobody. So you have to keep going ’cause you know what you have is good. You just have to put it out there for people to see it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m bothering people because I am so persistent. I worry that I might be annoying. 

I know what you’re saying. Sometimes I feel self-conscious as well. I’ll think, “My friends are gonna hate me. I’ve asked them to like my things so much. I’ve asked them to support me.” “Please give me a review.” “Please give me so many stars.” And sometimes I think, “When they see my name, they’re gonna delete that message.” But then I think, “I don’t care! If they’re my friends, they’ll do it for me, and I’ll do it for them any time.” And that’s it. You have to keep going; it doesn’t matter.

And that goes back to relationships because especially with independent films, relationships and lasting connections are essential. And I don’t think some people get that, but it sounds like you guys understand that. 

Yes, I understand the value of connections. In Venezuela, connections are everything. When I came to Canada, I thought things might be different, but no they aren’t. Absolutely in Canada connections are still vital. I really value my friends and my connections, and you do need to have connections with soul, not superficial connections. You have to go beyond the surface and really have connections with people. I totally get it. It’s a lot of work because you have to show up to other people’s stuff and there are not so many hours in the day that you can do your work and support everybody, but you have to do it somehow. And sometimes people don’t pay you back, but that’s okay. I truly believe that we are to help each other. This is a small planet. We need to help each other. If somebody doesn’t understand that, that’s fine. You have to keep doing it. It doesn’t matter.

I agree with you one hundred percent. We are on the same page. I like to support people who are just like what you’re talking about, and unfortunately, not everyone is. Sometimes I know we get busy and we feel like we wish we had more time to help people, but we do the best we can. Most people understand, and if you’re even putting forth the effort, most people appreciate that. 

Absolutely. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.” When I heard that, I thought, “Wow! Okay, I got it. Yes, I agree with that.”

That is an awesome saying! I don’t think I’ve heard that. And I totally agree with you, Maria.

We always find really nice people that help us and work with us. And without these people, we could not have done it. We are blessed that way, and we get lots of people from everywhere every step of the way. Ross has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. He supports me. Without him and his encouragement, I don’t think I would be here. I think the best thing that ever happened to me was meeting him and marrying him. We have been married eighteen years, and I have grown so much during that time. I am blessed.

I absolutely adore the way that Ross enlisted Maria’s help, and I am grateful that her somewhat reluctant entrance into the indie film scene has endowed her with a passion that is inextinguishable. No doubt, as Ross would say, Maria is his gift from above, but in Maria’s eyes, the feeling is entirely mutual. She appreciates the gentle way that Ross nudged her towards stepping out of her comfort zone, and together, these two are an indomitable force. As a couple in life and work, Ross and Maria are definitely made for each other and perfectly matched in strength and weakness–exactly the way a partnership and marriage should be. Additionally, I appreciate Maria sharing her heart with me in this interview as her comprehensive philosophy is unerring. One should be willing to render aid without expecting anything in return. While there does come a point when reciprocity is essential to keeping a connection or friendship healthy, all help and promotion should be given without expectation. And as Maria will tell you, I am certain the outpouring of support they have received from friends and colleagues has completely overwhelmed them both, and their gratitude is unbounded for this crucial aid. Therefore, be certain that you follow Maria at the links below and please consider checking out her husband’s films and supporting this amazing, considerate, benevolent, and talented couple. From our initial contact, I have received nothing but kindness, patience, and understanding from them, and I wish them both nothing but success as they continue to pursue every dream within their hearts and minds.

FOLLOW MARIA

Twitter

Linkedin

Instagram

IMDB

FOLLOW/SUPPORT ROSS’ FILMS

A Legacy of Whining

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Trailer

Trailer Snotty Punks

A LEGACY OF WHINING now available in CANADA, US, UK & Australia

Rent/buy: GOOGLE PLAY http://bit.ly/2bZqQp7 & YouTube http://bit.ly/2cq4FYK

Also in US, UK, Germany & Japan

FREE on Amazon Prime or rent/buy on Amazon https://goo.gl/xCXXvu

Broken Palace

IMDB

Website

Brewster McGee

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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