Ruthie Doyle Talks Puberty, Art, Film and Gardening

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Ruthie Doyle Talks Puberty, Art, Film and Gardening

"LA VERNIA" is a film exploring the complex relationships between a young queer woman and the women in her life. It is written and directed by its star, Ruthie Doyle, a Texas born LA (by way of BK) based interdisciplinary filmmaker who, my crystal ball tells me, is about to blow up.

The film is shot, literally on film; 16mm (the way it used to be), courtesy of a Panavision equipment grant. Doyle is an alum of Sundance's emerging filmmaker network of programs and is currently raising funds through Sundance Institute's Artist page to finish "LA VERNIA". And if that isn't enough of a recognition that Doyle's talents are worth investing in, then read on about her crew of accomplished and well rounded all-queers who lend skills from cinematography to producing.

I got a chace to understand who this young powerhouse is with questions that have only led me on to more questions (I'll have to find out more about the gardening in another interview.) Read on:

Is the film "kinda" autobiographical? I see its staring your you and your sister.
In "LA VERNIA", a queer dancer living in Brooklyn returns to rural Texas for her grandmother's funeral, and encounters old patterns and family dynamics. There are some autobiographical elements, but "LA VERNIA" is definitely a narrative film. It's really about family (blood and chosen), the ways people (don't) connect and intimacy.

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I moved to New York and was based in Brooklyn for 11 years, spending a lot of that time in the EU, and then moved to LA a few years ago. I feel like I can really “see” Texas now, really appreciate it–-and appreciate what amazing locations it offers to film, too.

My “real” sister is in the film with me, playing my sister, though she was very reluctant. I knew what kind of process I wanted on set and I knew I wanted a young person who wasn’t too “actor-y.” Plus my sister has that subdued a-tad-geeky-smart-kid vibe. I auditioned a lot of girls before I finally convinced her (or rather sort of bribed her with the payment of her choosing––a handheld video game console.) I think she ended up having a great time, and was a consummate host to the crew, many of whom came down from LA, which was exciting for everyone. 

Can you tell me a little more about your background. I see you've studied all over the place, and you kinda straddle traditional narrative and the arts? Is there anything additionally interesting you can add?
When I was little, everything awesome happened when you were 12: boobs, your mandatory vaccines were over, and basically a 12-year-old girl was the pinnacle of amazing.

I asked my mom if I could be an actor, and she said maybe when I grew up. She was probably kinda distracted when I said, “You mean when I’m 12?” and she said “Sure.” When I turned 12 of course she claimed she would never say such a thing and she wouldn’t subject her daughter to that kind of business. So I started doing theater competitions on my own after school (and I was really good at contemporaneous speaking! Ha.).

A magnet public high school for the arts was founded when I was in high school, and I graduated early, acting in a repertory theater company full-time. I didn’t really have a sense of or education about the avant-garde or even my possibilities behind the camera, though I saw all the indies at Blockbuster.

Then I moved to New York for undergrad at Sarah Lawrence College and was exposed to performance art, film, multimedia and general awesomely weird stuff. (I also fell in love with public health and became an HIV counselor/tester and birth doula… a few years ago it was a decision between an MFA in film or a PhD in Socio-Medical Science.) I studied with performance artist Dan Hurlin and attended the Kitchen’s emerging artist program, where mentors that year included Laurie Anderson, Bill T Jones and Yoko Ono.