T-Port Blog

29-year-old Tehilla Ruddell just graduated from Minshar School of Art in Tel Aviv. In her short film “A PLACE THAT DOESN’T EXIST” she explores her own story, having left the orthodox Jewish world at the age of 16. We caught up with the filmmaker to talk about her journey and how the filmmaking process helped her make peace with her past.

Tell us about yourself

I am 29 years old from Tel Aviv and I just finished my first short film after 4 years of film
school. Now I am working on a feature film and series, all based on true stories from my
journey in life of leaving the orthodox Jewish world at age of 16 and living as a secular
lesbian woman today.

How did you first start working on your film? What was the process like and what first sparked the idea to make this film?

The first spark was a memory that came to me in writing class that made me very angry. I
needed to put it into words – the rest is history 🙂

Tell us a bit about your film and the filmmaking process – what were your main insights?

My main insights were gained when my past life was brought to life while filming my story.
Reliving the past as the actors played the roles of people who I was hurt by in the past was a very inspiring process as I watched it all come alive again.

The writing process was very long and involved making many changes to the story but when it finally came together on set, I was crying while watching the actress on the monitor play myself as a little girl.

For me, those were the most powerful moments in the process, by making peace with the little girl I was with no judgement towards her.

I kept thanking the actors again and again for giving me such an enormous gift.

What were the biggest challenges you encountered during making your film?

The biggest challenges were the rainy weather, the main actress getting sick, and finding balance between wanting a satisfying outcome and letting go where I needed to.

How was it to collaborate with your cast and crew? 

Most of the crew got along very well, lots of us became good friends and we have kept seeing each other for a drink or more work talks. The best connection I made is with my photographer who turned out to be the best choice for my film; from a personal aspect, his calm and focused approach made the film come together. my editor who tolerated me very well and always gave me good feedback for the films benefit. and of course the main actress who is part of my blood in a way 🙂

Tell us about the visual choices in your film. What were your main goals and techniques in creating the visual style of your film?

Most of the visual decisions were made to support the Actress conflict in her relationship with the external environment. There are contrasts between very closed shots and shots of wandering and instability. There are also contrasts between warm and cold colours.

What would you like people to take away from your film?

The courage to ask questions about anything that matters to you and maybe looking at vulnerability as a strength.

Did you have a specific strategy for promoting your film? If so, please tell us about it.

I did crowdfunding on the social network before shooting the film.

What did you find (or still find) as especially lacking in the process of distributing and promoting your film? What was especially challenging?

The editing process is most challenging for me because there are a few different options of how to tell this story and I am still finding the best way for the film. And as well I think that promoting my film will be a long journey that i am just starting now. I hope the world is open to see the hard topics discussed in the film, and that it will get to as many people as possible.

If you were to have infinite resources – walk us through your fantasy film project

A huge series about teenage girls who break out of the ultra-orthodox world and turn out to be the strongest women by creating a much better world for the women who come after them.

Tell us about a filmmaker that you admire and why?

I admire Kimberly Peirce (BOYS DON’T CRY, CARRIE) because of her amazing talent of showing a personal story through, social and political aspects with a lot of sensitivity and wisdom.



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