Exclusive Interview: Yoav Factor on 'Reuniting the Rubins'
Shalom Life interviews the director about his first feature film
Although Reuniting the Rubins is Yoav Factor’s first feature film, he’s hardly new to the business. The writer and director, who’s worked on a number of commercials, nabbed a BAFTA Film Award nomination back in 2002 for a short film called Good Night. His latest movie -- about a dysfunctional Jewish family who reunites during Passover -- features a number of well-known British actors, including Timothy Spall (Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd), Rhona Mitra (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) and James Callis (Battlestar Galactica). Shalom Life chats with Factor about the film and his upcoming projects.
What inspired you to write Reuniting the Rubins?
Most UK debut features are either horror films or about gangsters and/or scams. I wanted to make my debut with something a little different.
I wanted to make a film that tested a very modern dilemma: can family still exist within a globalized world where the needs of the individuals so often over the needs of the many.
Family dynamics are so interesting because it’s the place where character is really put to the ultimate test. Films are all about conflict and goals so the challenge of celebrating life within that conflict zone seemed a good mining territory to make a emotional roller coaster of a film, with a lot of fun and laughter along the way.
Who are some of the directors that you admire?
Sergio Leonie for cinematic scale, the early work of Spike Lee for personal direction in his work, Pedro Almaldovar for creating such intriguing colourful characters and situations, Terry Gilliam just for Brazil alone, Stanley Kubrick for everything, Jean-Pierre Jeunet for Amelie and Delicatessen, Paul Thomas Anderson for being so brave, Frank Darabont, and Clint Eastwood for making endless wonderful films and last of all, Robert Rodriguez for his tenacity and for sleeping on a friend’s couch to save the hotel bills in favour of being able to fund his siblings’ education (being idealist I so want that to be true).
This was your first feature film. What were some of the challenges you faced?
Well, really every challenge came from one thing. We met Timothy Spall, after him loving the screenplay. He had a five week window and wanted to do the film. So as the lead producer of the film as well as being a first time feature director we ended up having four weeks of prep to put the entire film together from scratch, including set up office, finding locations around England and South Africa, cast the whole thing, etc etc… not to mention raising most of the budget in that time in the middle of the deepest moment of the credit crunch hitting in. Oh and there was the day that Swine flu nearly closed us down three days before filming. And one of those prep weeks was Passover and I observe ALL the holy days, so no work at all.
This is not to mention that with so little prep time actually shooting a full feature film in five weeks across two sides of the world. Let’s say I needed a week’s holiday before I set foot in the edit suite.
I have to mention the amazing hard work of the other Producer Jonathan Weissler. Without his brilliance in pulling it together it would never have gotten made. And other key crew members who helped pull it all together, including the much under estimated role of the Editor Anthony Stadler who was my rock.
Are any of the characters in the movie based on your family members?
Can I plead the fifth on this one please. ;-)
And before anyone thinks it’s about my family, watch the film and tell me if you don’t recognize these characters from your own personal experience.
How did you get such a talented cast on board?
Well, it helped that Timothy loved the script and wanted to do a lead. I’ve had BAFTA and Cannes recognition before so it made it easier to get the agents to promote my debut feature at the highest level. The script was loved by all so I think it’s mainly down to that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Don’t do it! Seriously, it’s a tough job. But having said that, if you have nerves of steel and you appreciate that the main thing past talent in filmmaking is actually politics and eating humble pie, then I’d say grab a video camera, go out and shoot some little films, making sure your characters want different things. Keep it simple. One or two locations, and practice. Then learn the filmmaking language. Watch lots of Making of’s on DVD, and read no more than a couple of books on each of writing, directing and producing (even if you don’t want to do all of those roles) LISTEN to advice, preserve, make sure you’re never too busy to call your Mum once in a while and when the awards come appreciate it was down to team work, not just yourself.
What’s next for you?
Working on a couple of animation scripts for a studio that I can’t name as of yet, and casting a psychological thriller set in New York.