Interview with Rubidium Wu – Director of the new independent film “The Devil’s Fortune”

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Producing an independent feature film is a challenge in itself. Even fewer do so in the midst of a global pandemic. This is exactly the mountain that director Rubidium Wu had to climb while filming his latest film “The Devil’s Fortune”. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with him to talk about the lessons he learned along this journey.

Rubidium Wu is a screenwriter, director, producer and cinematographer fresh off his latest directing effort – the independent feature film Devil’s Fortune. You may already know him for his successful educational work. His YouTube channel Crimson Engine has garnered millions of views over the years, and we are proud to host his “The Indie Film Blueprint” course on MZed.

Devil’s Fortunewhich is launched today on AppleTV and Amazon Primeis Rubidium’s second feature film after Brooklyn Tide (2016). This neo-noir financial thriller tells the story of James Treage, a fund manager who enters his office to find the corpse of his partner, killed by a team of Iraqi assassins for taking millions from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Before you read on, be sure to check out the trailer below.

Interview with Rubidium Wu – Director of “The Devil’s Fortune”

Q: What drew you to Devil’s Fortune?

I had read some news reports in the early 2000s about some of the people who had been killed because of Saddam Hussein’s missing billions. It really looked like a cursed treasure of modern times, like Tutankhamun’s tomb or the diamond of hope. On another level, it really paralleled the financial meltdown of 2008 when not just greed, but willful ignorance of where our wealth came from pushed the entire financial system to the brink of collapse. . The idea stuck with me for years and slowly developed into the script the film is based on.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: What were the challenges during production?

We started filming in April 2020, which has been quite a hectic time. We only shot the first week before being shut down in LA by the Covid stay-at-home order. We changed protocols and shot for a few more days in July 2020, returning for a final week in November.

It was difficult to say the least, because my first responsibility as a producer is to keep the cast and crew safe, but no one knew anything at that time about how the virus was going. spread and if you could still make movies. There are a lot of tough decisions, but I’m really proud of the fact that there was no transmission on set and we still got to make the movie.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: What were some of your highlights during production?

As a writer/director, seeing what was once just an idea in your head come to life is always a thrill. Due to Covid we also had to find new outdoor pitches, and some of these turned out to be much better. One of the last scenes was supposed to take place in a hotel room, but we managed to find a great airport hangar at the last moment, and that really added to the scale of the film.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: How did you find the cast of Devil’s Fortune? What was it like working with them?

We cross In the wings and actor access and received thousands of submissions. It was a lot of work to sort everyone out, but the casting ended up surpassing my wildest dreams. I’m a big believer in the idea that once you’ve found the right person for a role, there’s no doubt. If you can’t find someone, especially for leads who are 100% right, you have to keep looking until you find them.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: What sort of unique feel or look were you looking for with the film?

The film is a neo-noir financial thriller, but it’s set in the canyons and streets of Los Angeles. I tried to design and light the places as if the outside world was on fire (which matches the mindset of the protagonist). The bright sun is presented as a malevolent force rather than an illuminating force.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: As an educator, you are always looking to share lessons learned when working on a project. What was it like to wear a filmmaker and educator hat at the same time?

When making a film, especially a low-budget independent film, you constantly encounter challenges and problems that can seem insurmountable. A cast member stops the night before a scene, or a light malfunctions when you’re settling in.

I have found that how you approach these issues is one of the most critical decisions to make. It’s so easy to get into the mindset of feeling the limitations you face because you don’t have the perfect equipment, the perfect schedule, or a huge, experienced team.

But if you view each challenge as a learning experience, overcoming them and sharing your solution creates something bigger than the current project you’re working on – it’s a tool that can help hundreds of other filmmakers achieve their own goals.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Q: CineD audiences are focused on gear, but it’s always good to move away from gear and talk about gear. So what lessons have been learned from Devil’s Fortune that you will take with you in your next film?

I could never have made this film to such a high standard without the new cameras, new lights and new lenses that have been featured on CineD over the past two years. You don’t need a million dollars to tell a story that can run into the millions.

But the flip side of this democratizing trend is that there are now more new movies than ever before and you can easily get lost in the flood of content. I think the big trend for filmmakers in the next decade is to build their own audiences and build communities around their work, either through social media or in the region. No film, no matter how well shot or scripted, will ever be seen if it does not find an audience.

Always take from “The Devil’s Fortune”. Image credit: Rubidium Wu

Learn more about indie cinema with MZed Pro

There are so many things that go into making an independent film, it’s hard to summarize in a short article. From conception to fundraising, through production and post-production, and of course distribution and marketing. There are a few courses at MZed that specifically prepare you to make your own independent film: The Independent Film Planand Produce from the front.

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Have you ever participated in the production of independent feature or short films? What lessons have you learned from these experiences? Let us know in the comments below!

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