The SXSW film Booster was one of our most anticipated movies and, as we said in our review, we really enjoyed how different this movie was compared to other crime dramas, even ones set in Boston. We caught up with writer/director Matt Ruskin who has had a life-changing experience with his first ever narrative feature after spending a decade making documentaries.
Playmaker Magazine: First of all, not only did you get into SXSW with this film, you’re leaving with an award. The SXSW Grand Jury gave special recognition for Nico Stone’s performance in the movie. How did it feel when you heard about that?
Matt Ruskin: Just being here was prize enough. Being recognized for an element of the film that we’re really proud of was a huge honor and made it even more thrilling and exciting for us.
PM: And he was such a big part of the movie that it must feel like it’s not just his award, but a tribute to the film itself.
MR: He did such a great job with it. It was his first time acting and he worked really really hard. We couldn’t be more proud of the performance he gave so it’s great that other people feel the same way.
PM: What inspired you to make the movie?
MR: We were lucky enough to know a lot of different kinds of people growing up. Some of that stuff is based on real events that happened, fictionalized into a feature film but also a story that we wanted to tell.
PM: This movie was centered around one silent, but complicated character. Where did the character of Simon come from?
MR: We wanted to do something set around crime and that genre in that world that we knew really well, in Boston. But what interested us in it was the human side of it, not trying to show thrill-seeking criminals trying to make that stuff look cool because we didn’t have experiences with those kinds of people. There are people in really difficult situations not typically having fun. There’s desperation and very difficult circumstances. We wanted to show the human side of that as best we could.
PM: It did feel really gritty. The criminals in the film aren’t looking for a big score. They’re just trying to get by and not do much more than that.
MR: Those are the kinds of people that we knew that inspired this story. We didn’t know bank robbers that you see depicted in films. We saw a very different side of it. We thought that would be much more interesting and something we’d be much more capable of trying to depict in a film.
PM: The film also has a unique ending that sets itself apart from other movies in this genre. Without spoiling it, tell me how you decided to end the movie the way you did.
MR: Nico and I really collaborated on the script from day 1. One of the themes is that the kid can’t escape who he is even though he may be the last person to realize it.
MR: I’ve been living in New York for the past 15 years wearing a Boston Red Sox hat around so that doesn’t always go over well in the fall.
PM: Well, there have been some good times recently for Boston. Speaking as a Red Sox fan, we’ll always hold 2004 over New York Yankees fans.
MR: I’ve gotten some reluctant congratulations in New York from unlikely people over the years.
PM: Well congratulations on the movie and the award. Good luck the rest of the year with the film.
MR: Thank you so much.