Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021

Ryan Mack 
You're Family Now
ryanmack.com
United States - 20 min

After discovering her husband Eli has inherited a family home, Sam pushes for them to visit. As Eli’s past comes back to haunt them both, she realizes she has married into more than just family.

Hi Ryan, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times? 

 

Hi!  Thank you so much for having me.  This past year and a half has been an emotional roller coaster for me, but it's also been a very positive transitional period in my life, so I'm feeling very hopeful moving forward!

 

Has this time been offering you any new creative opportunities or inspiration?

Absolutely, this lockdown was part of a perfect storm that sent me in a new direction professionally and creatively. Before the pandemic I would carve out a weekend here or there to write scripts for potential films, but it wasn't until I was stuck home full time that I really started asking myself, what am I doing with my life?  I know I want to be a filmmaker, what am I waiting for?  So I made the decision to quit my day job and become a full time writer and director of my own work.  It was a now or never moment for me.  

Congratulations on having You're Family Now part of this year's Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?

 

It really is an honour to be a part of the Cannes Short Film Corner!  We put so much love and passion into this short film and I'm so happy that people from all over the world will get a chance to watch it. 

 

At the 2020 Venice Shorts Film Festival you won Best U.S. Horror Short, what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your directorial debut?

 

This was the first film festival we submitted to, so to win this recognition right out of the gate was a complete surprise.  I was really nervous about how the film would be received and it was so exciting to walk away from that experience with this award, such an honour.  It definitely got me very excited for the festival circuit!

 

How much has your background as a film editor helped you take the helm of your debut film?

Editing is one of the most important parts of production, and personally one of my favourites. I would say my editing background heavily influences how I write and direct my own work.  Film is a visual medium, and how you show these images in a sequence changes everything about the emotion of a scene and ultimately the whole piece.  So much of the story is told in the edit, and we were so lucky to have the very talented Joe Carugati edit our first short.  It was a very rewarding creative experience collaborating with him.  


You co-wrote You're Family Now with Logan Mack, who also served as your cinematography, what was this experience like for you and will you continue to collaborate with Logan on future projects? 

That's right! Logan is not only a very talented cinematographer, but he is also the co-writer of the screenplay as well as my brother.  This was our first time working together on a project like this, and it was a great experience.  The idea for the film was born out of a very personal experience we both share around our families struggle with cancer, so it was a really important first project for us.  As of this interview we are already in pre-production on our next short film.  Hopefully we can share it with you later this year! 

What was it about the horror genre that interested you so much and what was the hardest part of making You're Family Now?

 

We lost our mother to cancer last year, just as the pandemic was closing down the world.  It was the second parent we lost to this disease and I personally also battled cancer but have since fully recovered.  When we decided to pursue our passions and make our first film we knew we had to address all of this somehow.  We tried to write a screenplay that was more of a dramatic biographic re-telling of our experiences and it just wasn't fun, and was honestly just too soon.  I grew up a HUGE fan of science fiction horror, and so it was just a natural progression to take these themes and put them through the lense of a horror short.  We felt our family was cursed in a way, and there was always this fear that "we will be next" to get taken by the disease.  That is the heart of the story of this short, but as a horror film it becomes a story everyone can enjoy watching.

Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?

Good question!  It's hard to say I would do anything differently because, all things considered, I feel like we all did such a great job and we learned so much every day on this production.  We are stronger and smarter because of it.

 

If I had to pick one thing, I would have budgeted for more time on set.  There is never enough time! 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

Yes!  Since I could hold my parents' VHS camera I was making movies in my basement with my best friend.  It wasn't until I took a video production class in High School with the best mentor I've ever had, Marty Hoban, that I ever considered making a career out of this.  Once he had us shooting and editing our own projects, I was absolutely hooked.  I actually co-directed my first feature film while in that class. Hopefully no one ever see's it, but it's what set me on this path I'm on now. 

"I grew up a HUGE fan of science fiction horror, and so it was just a natural progression to take these themes and put them through the lense of a horror short."

Do you have any advice or tips you would offer any emerging editor or writer/director who is thinking of making their own short?

 

Don't wait around for anyone to give you permission.  If you want to write screen plays, or edit movies, or direct a short film.  Just do it.  Start as soon as you can and don't stop.  Use your phones, use youtube, read all the books you can get your hands on, use all the free tools around you to learn as much as you can and just start making stuff.  Study films, watch movies every week, take notes, and read screenplays.  It will all start to click.

 

Also don't be precious with your first project.  The short form is the perfect place to experiment and learn.  So just have fun and make as much stuff as possible! 

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from You're Family Now?

 

I hope people will resonate with the characters, and this horrible situation they are in.  But mostly I just want people to have fun watching it!  It's a creepy little short and if the audience is holding their breath until the end, I'll be happy.