Ricky Cruz on producing with a purpose and new film ‘Pigeon Hole’
Every day Ricky Cruz steps onto a film set, leading the team as an extraordinary producer, he is living his dream. There isn’t an aspect of his job that he does not enjoy, loving that every day presents a new challenge for him to overcome. As a producer, he has a front row ticket to each aspect of production, seeing an idea from conception to award-winning film. He is a natural born storyteller, meant to be doing exactly what he is doing now.
This internationally sought-after producer has made a name for himself in his native country of South Africa and around the world. He has over 15 awards and 8 nominations decorating his resume, with that number growing every year. His impactful films, like Foible and The American take a humorous look at issues in our society, and tell often untold stories, such as the documentary Improve a Saving Grace, that resonate with audiences everywhere.
“Producing films is my passion, and the fact that I have the opportunity to work and pursue my passion is something that I try to never take for granted,” said Cruz.
Cruz’ unique sense of humor is evident in his work, and his recent film Pigeon Hole exemplifies that. Starring writer Patrick Steward and Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers trilogy), Pigeon Hole is a comedy film produced and directed by Ricky Cruz that plays on the familiar and sometimes exhausted tropes of independent art-house cinema. The film explores the idea of finding your respective place in the world and embracing your true nature.
The film follows the story of Henry, a turbulent young man who is forced to consider his life and respective place in society after the facade of his life begins to crumble. His struggle is witnessed first-hand by a woman in the park who, despite an apparent indifferent attitude towards Henry, seems to be his only consistent companion in life and who ultimately helps him on his journey and struggle when Henry finds his respective place, with the pigeons in the park.
While the film has been received as a successful parody of the intended genre, the narrative behind the original story is a familiar struggle that most audiences can relate to: namely the struggle to find your respective place in the world.
“Pigeon Hole holds a very special place in my heart. I always like working on films that have a powerful message to relay to audiences. While audiences can enjoy the parody element of the film, I love the message behind the film and the unconventional way in which it is relayed to the audience members. Pigeon Hole is a textbook example of the sort of unconventional comedy film I think has a phenomenal amount of power and influence and can be used to bring attention to important issues and unique stories that need to be told,” said Cruz.
Thanks to Cruz, Pigeon Hole was nominated for Best Short Film at the Canadian International Comedy Film Festival (formerly Shart Film Festival and Canada’s longest running comedy film festival). It was also a Semi Finalist at The Lisbon Film Rendezvous and an Official Selection at The Australian Inspirational Film festival and The Bergen County Film Festival, with more festival appearances expected as the year continues.
“Pigeon Hole stands out to me as one of the only films I produced where the final product successfully serves two of the purposes that it intended to serve from conception: namely it is the sincere and loving mockery and celebration of a film genre I love and an original, self-contained comedy piece. I believe to successfully poke fun at pretentiousness, there needs to be some element of it in the parody itself and that was so much fun,” said Cruz.
Pigeon Hole has been to date the most ambitious project undertaken by Cruz, using soviet vintage lenses and a dozen trained pigeons (along with resident bird wildlife on location) the film’s logistics and production elements were fierce to navigate but resulted in a dynamic aesthetic that lends itself to the message being relayed. The film was accepted into the Musicians Institute Intensive Workshop Program and received an original score composed by Hisaka Ozawa and also received writing and production assistance from Emmy nominated writer, George McGrath (Pee Wee’s Playhouse).
“As a creative producer, I had a great time mining for and discussing items from arthouse cinema that we wanted to highlight and so would have to embrace organically in the writing and development of the script and characters. Long winded and abstract metaphors from turbulent and layered characters in a simultaneously simple and complex environment with an ambiguous or unsettling button were some of our favorite points of discussion. I loved this film because as production went on, we managed to find individuals who not only understood what we were trying to achieve but had great ideas themselves and could contribute to the style and originality of the film,” said Cruz.
Working on Pigeon Hole reminded Cruz of the importance of versatility as a producer. He had to be quick on his feet, offering solutions to problems instantaneously, being a fearless leader on set. He believes that is the key to becoming a successful producer, and reminds those wanting to follow in his footsteps that every day, no matter how seasoned you are, is a learning experience.
“There’s no sense in being a one trick pony when it comes to producing. The more experience you have in different things, the better off you are be it through your own abilities or through the people you have met while exploring the respective avenues. If you continuously explore fields of interest that can benefit your work, the more work there is to do. I really strive to be a Swiss army knife when it comes to filmmaking, and I think that stems from the passion I really have for storytelling and making films. There are a million easier ways to make money than filmmaking and so you have to be driven by a desire to create. Producing films isn’t easy work and if you’re not chasing the reward of seeing something you helped create become realized, you run the risk of being unfulfilled,” he advised.
Written by Sean Desouza
April 5th, 2019