A story that finishes with a shocking twist, This Perfect Day, a film directed by Lydia Rui, tells a personal story based on her experiences and it intertwines the important themes of family and music. A film which received its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival, we spoke to Lydia Rui about what made her decide to write this film, how her film has been doing on the festival circuit and what we can expect to see from her next.
Hi Lydia, how are you doing?
Hi JCM, thanks for the interview! I’m doing great, thank you. I’m currently in Shanghai on behalf of ShanghaiPRIDE & the Australian Consulate sharing ‘This Perfect Day’. It’s been a real privilege so far.
Congratulations on your very beautiful and honest short film “This Perfect Day”. Where did the story come from?
The story came out of a personal premise, but I won’t say too much lest I spoil the film!
Where do get your inspirations for your films?
My inspirations can come from a variety of places — I think most often though they come from a feeling, an atmosphere, an emotional colour if you will. Then I’ll try to recreate that feeling for an audience.
“This Perfect Day” is only eight minutes long so it probably has to grab the attention of the audience right from the start. Thanks to Michelle Keating it does exactly that. How did you come across her?
It was a cosmic coincidence. I was looking for an edgy Eurasian lead who embodied Jules’ character and we had less than two weeks before our set production date. I happened upon their (Michelle Keating’s preferred pronoun) profile but had a feeling they were not going to respond to me. Later that same day I attended a screening of my friend’s film at the Melbourne International Film Festival and saw Michelle there as a volunteer. I wasn’t sure it was them, but it’s not often you see someone with Michelle’s quality. I told myself I’d approach them after the screening. At the screening, they sat down in front of me as the lights dimmed, so I thought, perfect! I’ll approach them right after the screening. Yet when the lights faded up they were gone! I cursed myself, yet as luck would have it, as I waited in a long line for a toilet cubicle, the door that opened to me revealed Michelle. I accosted them there and told them about my plans. They came in for an audition and I knew it was Jules!
As her co-star, we see Lee Mason. How did his casting go?
I found Lee by stalking all the talent agencies in Melbourne — and even Sydney, on the off chance they had talent in Melbourne too. Fortunately, Lee had his email on display and he responded to my cold email. Lee was generous enough to humour me and came in for an audition — he was wonderful. An incredibly humble, generous talent. A great listener and an empathetic man.
The film is about Julia possibly having “the perfect day”. How does your perfect day look like?
I think that’s a very hard question to answer and definitely contextual!
“This Perfect Day” recently got its world premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. What went through your mind when you heard the film was part of the program of that festival?
I thought I was in a dream — I saw an email from Ben Thompson at Tribeca at 6AM whilst I was still half-asleep in bed, asking if the film still had premiere status available. I told myself if this was real, I was going to take myself more seriously as a filmmaker — that this was not going to be a practicing passion that I gave only a few hours to each week but more a full-fledged pursuit. That I would be braver and take more risks with myself. That I would invest in myself.
Are there already any other film festival during which this movie will be screened?
It since screened at Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto, at ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival, at Dumbo Film Festival, Asian American Street Film Festival, and will screen next at North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
This is your third feature as a director but you were also producer, writer, and cinematographer for different movies and were also part of the different creative departments. Where did the passion for the film come from?
This is a short film — I’ve never directed a feature! A passion for film I think came as a natural extension for a passion for storytelling. To me, film is the most compelling, evocative, culmination of various mediums and can provide a catharsis that is most readily accessible (as opposed to some of the other arts, which can be more esoteric and exclusive).
What are, according to yourself, three characteristics a director/producer/writer needs to have to get a foot into the door of the film industry?
It’s nice to preface that these answers are very much only from my own limited, humble experience — but to me, I think a kind and empathetic heart is the most important characteristic. Empathy, resilience, and humility.
One last question: Are you already working on other projects?
I’m currently working on a few projects, we’ll see which comes out first depending on availability of funding.