Ramaa Mosely (Director - 'The Brass Teapot')
'Be Careful What You Wish For!'
Based on the comic book series, 'The Brass Teapot' is about mid-twenty year old couple who, in these difficult economic times, finds a mysterious, magical brass teapot which makes them money - but at a surprising price!
And so after realizing the teapots powers, John and Alice must decide how far they will go to fulfill their dream.
Writer/Director Ramaa Mosley made her first film at age sixteen, the documentary We Can Make a Difference, about global pollutions's effect on childeren. The documentary was screened around the world and went on to win a United Nations' Global 500 Award in Geneva, Switzerland.
Soon after and Ramaa was directing music videos for bands such as The B-52s, Brendan Benson, Creed and Five for Fighting. Ramaa has since been directing award winning national and international commercials for clients such as Adidas, Powerade, PGA, and amongst others, ESPN.
Indeed, Ramaa won best director at the First Glance Film Festival for her short film 'Grace.' And in 2011 she won the Audience Choice Award at Dance Camera West for her film 'In Dreams I Run Wild.'
Chatting recently with the Writer/Director herself Ramaa Mosely, I first wondered, first and foremost, and being that 'The Brass Teapot' was originally a 22 minute short film that she had written and directed back in 2007, why had she only now decided to create a full-length movie of it? "When I first found Tim Macy's short story I played with the idea of adapting it into a short film. It was actually 15 min of footage I workshopped. The end result was that I realized it was too dark and tonally not what I wanted to make as my first feature."
Is it true some of this movie was filmed in Bucharest, Romania? Was this for financial reasons, perhaps? "Actually, the movie was filmed in Upstate NY. There was an extra scene that was shot in Romania, but it never made it into the cut of the film. But it is on the DVD extras. We shot in Upstate NY because I loved the look of the Hudson Valley. And the tax incentives there allowed us to actually make the movie."
During the filming, what turned out to be your greatest directorial challenge - and how did you overcome it? "The biggest challenge was the amount of shooting days and my own ambition to try and make the film feel bigger."
How long was the shoot and did everything go according to plan? "We had 19 shoot days with a small crew of about 17 people but we couldn't get everything done in that amount of time. When we got back to LA we shot with a splinter crew for another three days."
"Nothing ever goes according to plan. Every day was about re-arranging and re-thinking. Luckily the actors were always 100% fantastic and present. Even when cameras broke or locations fell through - we always had brilliant acting."
This was your first time directing a full-length movie, as opposed to shorts. So, what were some of the major differences you first experienced between directing a short and a full-length? "Making a commercial is like running a spring race. Making a movie is a marathon. It's about endurance. Keeping ones vision clear from start to finish is much easier in a short amount of time, but when it's long it's much harder. Making a film there is so much compromise that is required. I found that many times it felt like I was trying to push an enormous boulder up to the top of a tall mountain. Because I knew there was a brilliant view up there. And other people wanted to leave the boulder where it was because boulders shouldn't be moved (especially up a mountain)."
"My job was to choose when to push everyone harder and get the boulder up there and when to accept reality and move on to the next issue. That's a bit of a tangent but hopefully you get the metaphor. Doing this day in and day out can be exhausting."
In truth, was 'The Brass Teapot' written to (kinda) reference 'The Brass Bottle,' the 1964 movie that inspired the TV show 'I Dream of Jeannie'? "Never heard of it. How fun!"
The origins of the teapot re: WWII could have played out to be a very dangerous mine field to tread - was it, in fact? "The mythology of the teapot was something we did tremendous research about. I worked closely with the Theosophist Society ( www.theosophistsociety.org) when we first started out. The elements of WWII and Hitler were a mine field inasmuch as many people on the team were concerned that the historical elements of the mythology would weigh down the spirit of the movie."
"I'm a huge comic book reader and I felt mythology was important. The teapot was a third character. There were many different versions of the screenplay where there was flashbacks and images of the teapot in the hands of previous owners. In the end, those were cut out. One remains on the DVD - it's the prologue. I love that type of thing. My favorite films are fantasy and sci-fi genre films with heart."
Indeed, 'The Brass Teapot' is based on the comic book series of the same name. How did they influence the writing and directing of the film? "From there, I decided to create a comic book version of the short story that was tonally more uplifting and entertaining. I felt that many projects had been done that were in the horror/thriller genre about magic objects. I wanted to make something that was entertaining and funny. After we developed the comic books, Tim wrote the screenplay. The comic books ended up being incredibly informative in making the move because it was like shot listing the whole film. Also, it helped everyone involved understand that there was tremendous levity to the project and also a relevancy to it."
Also, just how did you get that teapot to spew out its money fountain so perfectly each time?! "My father-in-law came and helped us create a rig. It was a large hose hooked to the bottom of one of the teapots that had no bottom. The hose went to an airblower. The art department would shove the printed money into the hose and it would get blown out. You can imagine the roar of the blower combined with the hot sweaty weather of NY and Juno Temple and Michael Angarano doing their best make it all feel real. It was quite something."
The moral of the story is 'Be careful what you wish for'! So, based on that, if you yourself could wish for anything to happen to you personally, what would it be - and why? "My greatest wish is to suddenly be able to speak 7 languages flutenly and play the guitar and piano. I also wish to have a hugely successful directing career where I get to make movies that are a critical and box office success."
What's next for you, Ramaa? "Two projects. Both written by Tim Macy. One is called 'Free Will' and is a magical comedy. The other is called 'Hypergraphia' and is a magical thriller. I love them both. Tim and I love magic, but most of all we love when average people encounter something completely fantastic and have to rise to the occasion."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds) ... do you have any love for them, or a funny story, perhaps?! "I was shooting in Cape town South Africa and discovered that there are penguins there. They live in the warm climate. I stumbled upon a beach and they were everywhere with their little black and white bodies hobbling about. It was an amazing sight! They were ignoring me so I threw a few pieces of bread towards them. Next thing I knew I was being chased down the beach by a thousand penguins. Someone has pictures of that I think!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED 'THE BRASS TEAPOT' poster, just answer this question about the lady herself: In 1998, Ramaa directed a music video for The B-52's. What was the title of this song/video?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED 'THE BRASS TEAPOT' poster! Just send us an e:mail here before June 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED BRASS TEAPOT POSTER to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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