Creative interviews - Dominic Savage (Creator and Director)

Category: Press Pack Article

Who do you think I Am Ruth will resonate with most and what do you hope the response will be?

I feel it will resonate with everyone but, in particular, with parents and teenagers. In many ways, everyone will recognize the difficulties portrayed in the film between Ruth and Freya. But also there are so many people who will relate to the mental health crisis that is depicted in the film as well. Particularly in these times. So many people, young and old are experiencing difficulties in life that are affecting their mental health. This film shows a particular aspect that so many teenagers are susceptible to.

How did you get Kate on board? What does having Kate in the lead role mean for you both, for I Am, and for Channel 4?

It was serendipity really - and good timing. When we met, we couldn’t believe that we hadn’t met before. Having been a massive fan of Kate’s, I approached her, and she was on the phone to me the next day, having seen my work over the years. Turns out we were mutual fans of each other! We met a week later. I went to her house and we had lunch and we talked and talked, and immediately connected. We both knew then we were going to do something together. It is such an honour to have such an iconic and loved film star a part of the I Am journey. I believe it is Kate’s first feature length project for television in the UK. For me this is incredibly special and an event in itself and I’m so pleased that it is going to be on Channel 4.

How did you come to choose the subject matter of I Am Ruth?

We came to this decision unanimously together. After talking about the things that mattered the most to us in our life. As parents ourselves, we shared so much about our own challenges of parenting and the many similar stories we are both aware of from the friends and families that surround us, and about how we recognized those difficulties that so many children face today, and how it affects parents as much.

Who is Ruth and how would you describe her relationship with Freya?

Ruth is a middle-class single parent mother. A suburban working woman. She works hard to look after her children and maintain a good life for them all and do all the things that every parent wants to do with their family. Her life is centred around her children and doing the absolute best for them. They are of vital importance to her. She has enjoyed a great relationship with them, and it has mostly been ok. However, things rather inexplicably have started to go very wrong in their lives. Ruth doesn’t understand it. She can’t believe what is happening and doesn’t know how to deal with it or stop it. She gets so many things wrong, just like many parents who are in this position. The film shows how she does come to understand it, and what action she knows she needs to take in order to save things.

Tell us about your experience working with Kate and Mia? Does working with Kate and Mia as real-life mother and daughter add a new dimension to I Am Ruth?

It was again meant to be. I met Mia coincidently at Kate’s house on that first meeting. Very quickly after formulating the story, the big question was who would play her daughter in the film. In my mind though, although I didn’t dare say it, Mia would be the perfect choice. And it was clearly something that we were both

Meeting Mia afterwards it became completely obvious, and Mia really wanted to give it a go. I knew that she was going to give everything for the film. I knew that she was so ready for something challenging and raw. Kate and Mia are very close and
they are so natural together. They are able to talk about everything and deal with everything. It is a wonderfully complex and loving relationship. I worked with them individually and together and had a distinct creative relationship with both of them. They are so instinctive and a complete joy to work with. It felt from the beginning that we were making this all together as one, which is how I love it to be.

Could you explain your unique process? How does your collaboration with an actor work in story development? How do you get the best improvised performances out of actors on set?
The main thing is establishing a relationship of mutual trust, honesty, love and belief. Once I have that, actually anything is possible. Once we have decided the territory that we want to explore together, then I construct the story for the actor and keep in close contact with them throughout the writing process, so it becomes uniquely theirs.

How I get the performances from my actors is something that is a bit of a mystery to me and I like it like that, but it’s also because we believe in each other and the story that we are telling.

We are honest and open and caring and supportive throughout the whole process. I like to think I create the right atmosphere for actors to thrive in, and we share the journey together.

What inspired you to tell this story? Does this important topic that is affecting families carry any personal relevance to you?

As a parent of three daughters, I understand what Ruth goes through. I understand what a mother goes through and I know what I have been through. Being with them as they grow, and experiencing their life challenges with them is tough, and there
are many moments of great difficulty that they face, and that we face with them.

But there is always hope, and there is always a way of finding a way through those challenges together. I believe the film will offer some insight and hope, however small, to parents and children everywhere.