Crowdfunding Pick: Mel and Ruby
I want to see more women that are “messy” and raw because those are the women that I see in my own life. Their stories deserve to be told.
If there is one thing that is true it’s this: breakups are messy. Whatever “conscious uncoupling” is it isn’t real because with the best intentions breakups are messy and with the worst intentions they’re like a war zone.
Filmmaker Julia Manis is tackling this One True Thing head on with her latest short film project Mel and Ruby, which is currently crowdfunding on Seed & Spark. But not just a breakup, nope. This short is about a breakup and that “A” word that is still so damn taboo no matter how hard we try to normalize it. Yes, I’m talking about alpacas.
Abortion. Obviously I mean abortion.
Julia finds common ground in the shame surrounding abortion and motherhood and the overall shame in dealing with emotions. As she puts it, “In a funny way, break-ups can feel like an ‘emotional pregnancy’ — one person is alone and left carrying the burden.”
We chatted with her about her crowdfunding project, which you should absolutely support, below!
Julia Manis has a BFA in Acting from USCL and is currently studying at Nancy Banks Studio. Her past training includes UCB, John Rosenfeld Studios and she is a member of The Road Theatre. Her first film Ride Oveshare premiered at the FAB Fest in Los Angeles and was runner up at the Women in TV/Film in Atlanta Film Festival.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.
Julia Manis: I’m a born and raised Southern California girl! My family will tell you that I was always a ham. If there was a chance for me to perform, I took it and ran. I also memorized the entire script for The Mummy and would recite the lines (I was EVERY character) as I watched it. I was a very particular child. As I grew older, I harnessed my passion and worked diligently on my techniques as a performer. I attended the prestigious Orange County School of the Arts from 7th-12th grade. After that, I got into the BFA program at USC. It has always been important to me to be highly trained in my field. I always knew that I wanted to be in film, but I wanted to make sure that I had the best training possible before I pursued it. Since college, I have continued acting in theatre, TV, and film. I have also produced four projects before this — two of which that I had written. That brings us to today. Still acting, still writing, still can quote most of The Mummy.
Tell us about this project! Where did the idea come from?
JM: Mel and Ruby is a poignant and witty drama about how women experience shame — whether that’s from society or even from your best friend. It’s Fleabag meets Broad City with a strong female friendship at its center.
This film is inspired by a very weird and very specific fear that I have: Every time I break up with a guy, I’m convinced that’s the day I’m going to find out I’m pregnant. I know. I’m strange. I realized that my real fear is actually that I have all of these “messy” emotions that I would prefer not to show the world.
But, break-ups ARE messy. So why do I feel so ashamed? After further investigation, I found that most women feel shame about most things: their emotions, their ideas about motherhood, their successes/failures, etc. etc. etc. So why do we feel like we can’t talk about these things if we’re all feeling it??
My hope with this film is to Start. The. Conversation. Let’s support each other rather than shame each other.
What excites you about using crowdfunding?
JM: It’s very exciting that crowdfunding gives people the ability to make their films when they may not have been able to before! I think that’s incredible. Because technology is becoming more innovative by the second, more and more people are able to tell their stories. But sometimes it’s hard to find funding for a film. Crowdfunding is a great way to use the support of your community and peers and make your art! Also, Seed&Spark is just an incredible platform. It’s the only crowdfunding platform devoted completely to film. Its founders also created an amazing educational series that teaches young producers about how to fund a film. Plus, their staff is incredibly supportive in making sure that you earn your fundraising goal!
Tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who are working on this film!
Skylar Schock is my incredible co-lead and co-producer. She’s one of those people that you meet and just instantly love. She is incredibly grounded, driven, and fiercely talented. Skylar and I just wrapped a different short film called Inconvenient where we played two very dysfunctional but loyal best friends. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on set. She is always down to take risks — which is awesome because she is also incredibly trustworthy.
We are still in the process of finalizing our crew, but we are looking to hire at least 80% female/woman-identifying crew.
Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.
It’s simple. I’m a feminist because I believe in equality between the sexes. At a very young age, I was introduced to great feminist thinkers like Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Atwood. It blew me away that these women were able to incorporate their genius artistic talents into a feminist cause. That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do as an actor, writer, and producer. My favorite films are ones that showcase nuanced, strong, and complex women. I want to see more women that are “messy” and raw because those are the women that I see in my own life. Their stories deserve to be told. As a writer, I’m always drawn to telling stories about female best friends, or sisters, or mother/daughters. These relationships are so rich and complex — and yet, I don’t see enough of them on film! That’s why I write.
Who are your favourite women working in the industry?
Ava DuVernay. Olivia Colman. Rachel Morrison. Viola Davis. Phoebe-Waller Bridge. Sandra Oh. Amy Poehler. Tina Fey. Natasha Lyonne. Regina King. I could go on forever!
What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?
Tell your authentic story. Don’t change it for anyone.
If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be?
Michelle Obama. Trevor Noah. Adele.
What mythical creature do you wish actually existed?
I love witches, but I don’t think that counts as a mythical creature. So…Banshees!!
Recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers!
Lucia Before and After by Anu Valia. It was Sundance’s Short Film Jury Winner in 2017. Absolutely breathtaking.