Local Filmmaker in Final Stages of First Feature Film; Lands Lead Role in A-List Film
SARATOGA SPRINGS – While there is a veritable panoply of creatives in the Capital Region, not all of them are able to make the moves Tara Rule currently is. The filmmaker, director, and actor is in post-production for her film, Ourselves, and is set to coordinate its premier following the release of an A-list movie she’s involved with. And, what’s more? Rule is not only cast as the lead in the film—a film where many details remain shrouded in marketing mystery—she’s also serving as its editor.
I had a chance to sit down with Rule this past week. What follows is our conversation.
Lucas Garrett: Tara, thanks for chatting tonight! It has to be about a year since we did this, right?
Tara Rule: Maybe more than a year.
LG: You have a lot of irons in the fire when we first spoke. I know how fast—or slow—things move in the arts world. What are you up to right now?
TR: Some of the same, some new. Definitely still working on Ourselves, which is the feature film that’s in post-production. That hopefully will be released within the year, but that’ll depend on a few projects. I’ve not shifted gears; I’ve just added to my plate. I’ve been gearing toward a lot of stuff for human rights activism, which is something I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t see that happening, so that’s been an interesting journey.
LG: Elaborate on that new journey.
TR: This organization, Courage for America—they do a lot of human rights activism work—was trying to encourage politicians all across the country to vote against Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, disability cuts, veterans’ benefits cuts, all that stuff. They’d go state-to-state to ask whoever the [local] representative was. In our state, it was Elise Stefanik. Needless to say, she didn’t show up.
It was a bunch of people talking—people from the community that do human rights activism. That was cool. It’s cool to get paid here and there for things I was already doing.
LG: So, aside from working on Ourselves in post-production and activism, have you been doing any acting at the moment?
TR: I have been. I have something I can’t talk about that’s really cool that hopefully people will find out about in the next six months. I’ve had to focus all my energy, time, and resources into this one thing that’ll be really exciting.
LG: Is it a movie?
TR: It’s a movie.
LG: Explain this if you don’t mind: You say you hope it’s coming out to the public within half a year, right?
LG: When you see these bigger movies that are announced two years ahead of time, why on this one is there such secrecy behind it?
TR: Because of the way it was going to be originally marketed. The marketing strategy on it changed, so there doesn’t necessarily have to be this huge level of secrecy behind it, but… I’ll put it this way: there’s pressure from another large company that are trying to get their hands on it. And it’s best if they don’t.
LG: You gotta tell us something. Is this movie made by someone we know?
TR: Oh yeah.
LG: Big name; medium name; small name?
LG: And, you’re part of it? And you’re acting in it?
TR: Yes, and I’m doing post-production.
LG: Big part or small part?
TR: I’m the lead.
LG: You’re the lead in an A-list movie?
LG: Wow! Congratulations!
TR: Well, thanks! It’s been a really interesting journey, for sure.
LG: When I first met you at the Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls, you were talking about your movie, Ourselves. I looked you up that night, in terms of your acting, and thought, “Wow, she’s really good!” I can’t wait to see what you have in store.
TR: It’s going to be good. I haven’t done anything huge. I’ve done some independent films here and there and some commercial work. This is definitely going to open doors for me.
LG: You have such a unique aura and character about you that it really translates so well into anything I’ve seen you in.
LG: You’re also a filmmaker, on top of being an actor, which is a completely different side of the lens. Tell us about your project, Ourselves.
TR: It’s in the end stages of post-production. I’m waiting to do the finishing touches on it until this other film I’m acting in is released. More people will see it if I release it after that film. It’s my first feature-length film, so I think it’d be cool to get more eyes on it.
LG: Let’s talk about the overarching story in Ourselves.
TR: You follow this girl throughout her life. That was automatically a challenge because [we had to] find actors that look alike through each age progression. We found a family of three girls and their two cousins. They all look alike – they’re all related. We had the main character from the age of 2, all the way up to 22. They’re all so extraordinarily talented. We got so lucky with that family.
The film is about this girl and how intergenerational trauma, and her personal trauma has led her into a position of becoming the monster that hurt [her] in the first place. There’s a lot of nature versus nurture stuff in there. It’s a psychological thriller, but it’s definitely a drama.
LG: I understand there have been some snags along the way.
TR: This is the first time I’ve talked about this publicly. It ended up working out for the better, but there was a hold-up on production. The other producer I was working with… Ourselves was a psychological thriller that already had a script. I needed a backstory for the lead character. I met this person, became friends with her, and she ended up coming onto the project. She told me this story of how she grew up across the street to this serial killer that was never caught. I thought that was a great backstory to this character. [People in marketing thought] that was the most marketable part. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with, because I felt it was a little bit deceitful. Maybe not deceitful, but the movie doesn’t focus on that, entirely.
The person I was working with was getting some media attention, especially where we filmed it in North Carolina. I ended up speaking to the police department and cold case detectives down there. I realized the reason they were interested in my movie was because what the girl said was not true! Because there was a front-page newspaper article about the movie that said there was a serial killer who killed thirteen people and was never caught, and still on the loose, caused hysteria. Reasonably so! [The police] said, “You need to not say this is based on a true story.” I said, “Oh, I thought it was.” That was a little bit awkward.
The other producer blocked me and everyone else on everything and never addressed. I’m a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. I should’ve done my due diligence as a producer. It’s been a little tricky. They voluntarily resigned from the project; they made a public statement on social media; they contacted me via text to say they were no longer part of the project. I’m upset with the fact she made up something so horrible because there are people out there who get murdered, and they don’t find the person who killed them.
LG: With everyone wanting to watch something new, what makes your movie stand out from all the noise?
TR: There’s a lot of attention to detail. Especially with horror genre movies, there’s a lot that could be left up to the imagination. There are no filling-in-the-blanks with Ourselves. It is so calculated. Everything that seems benign throughout the film, at the end, you go, “Oh, my god. I have to watch that again.” It’s a weird movie! I’m proud of it. I am glad I can do with it what my original vision was now that the other producer is gone.
LG: Tara, as you know, the business world in the arts is a brutal one, yet so many want to get into it. What is one thing you’d say to someone interested in getting into the whole world of art?
TR: The best piece of advice I ever got was: don’t let the flame go out. If you find something you enjoy, whenever that project comes to its completion, start working immediately on the next thing. Or, seek out the next thing you can be part of. Life can get in the way easily, and people are quick to dismiss people’s dreams or ambitions. Don’t leave room for someone to say, “Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” Meeting as many people as possible is really essential.
LG: Lastly, as we wrap this interview up, what does filmmaking mean to you?
TR: Filmmaking is the best way I can express these stories that I have in my head and these experiences that I’ve been through in a way I can make tangible for others. My films aren’t necessarily about my own experiences, but they kind of are. I want to evoke a feeling or sense from the audience where they – if nothing else – understood a feeling I experienced at one point.
LG: Thank you very much, Tara, for taking time out of your evening!
LG: I look forward to hearing more from you soon.
TR: Sounds good! Thank you.