Interview, by Rafy Mediavilla, w/ “Holler” (IFC Films) Writer & Director, Nicole Riegel. Out Now In Selected Theaters, Digital & Video On Demand. #Holler #NicoleRiegel #JessicaBarden #IFCFilms
In a forgotten pocket of Southern Ohio where American manufacturing and opportunity are drying up, a determined young woman finds a ticket out when she is accepted to college. Alongside her older brother, Ruth Avery joins a dangerous scrap metal crew in order to pay her way. Together, they spend one brutal winter working the scrap yards during the day and stealing valuable metal from the once thriving factories by night. With her goal in sight, Ruth finds that the ultimate cost of an education for a girl like her may be more than she bargained for, and she soon finds herself torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind.
CRITICOLOGOS: I found it interesting. You know, doing more research that you described this movie as a semi autobiography. How much of Ruth was you? Or what mixtures you did to create the character?
Nicole Riegel: So much of it was pulled from my own life. And Ruth was, is me, and very much, very much me and I felt that you know. If I felt that way, as a young person, particularly a young woman, then to put it on screen, others must have felt that way as well.
I want to talk about title. I see the title is fitting and I think that’s what Ruth is doing all the time. She’s hollering, that’s the connection that I got, I want people to hear me out. How did the title come about?
Yeah, that’s a great question and you’re spot-on actually, thank you, it has a dual meaning one is a holler which is abbreviated version of hollow and yeah that’s sort of what all over that region and community is, and it’s sort of an iconic word when you think of that region. And secondly, I view it as as a battle cry, a holler, or yell, a battle cry for Ruth.
CRITICOLOGOS: How did she (Jessica Barden) reacted when she saw this script and then you told her so we’re going to deal with hardware we are going to break stuff, & I’m going to steal stuff, it seems to me that backstage it had to be all really fun. You know, just to shoot everything that we saw in the movie?
Nicole Riegel: Yeah, I think I mean it was really hard, because we made the film in a Blizzard and every day we didn’t know if we needed to this production needed to go down or not because we were fighting. We were fighting to make the film and Blvd, but Jessica, you know, was able to do lots of stuff in the movie and the power tools and breaking things and smashing the computer and all.
I mean, she loved smashing the computer she loved. That was near the end of the shoot and it was very cathartic and she loved doing it and we all loved watching her do it. It felt like I think we all wanted to do that. I’ve never smashed like a laptop off of a table like that in my life and I don’t know if a lot of us have, so we were all watching it and there was something really cathartic about watching her do that. And you know she gets to swing the axe and chop wood and and operate the power tools. And she’s doing all of that. She’s really doing all of that and she, you know, uses the smaller axe. You know, in breaking the Baylor I’m giving away so many there’s so many spoilers in this, and so I think that was a lot of fun. It was race physically challenging role for her and she was game, to learn how to do all of those things.
CRITICOLOGOS: I want to talk about a specific scene that I’ve really loved and it was at the beginning of the of the movie. Where his brother, Ruth brother, was telling, hey you got into college and because of some stuff he did and rude she wasn’t really going with it, she wasn’t having none of it, being stubborn or or, she was trying to prove something or maybe a little bit of both?
Nicole Riegel: It’s a little bit of both, I think. She’s scared to go and I think her. It’s about her giving herself permission to have more and have a future and to leave feels like a betrayal. It’s scary, she’s going to leave everything she’s ever known behind, and this is a very sheltered girl who has probably never been out of this state and so you know to act. Or? I mean, as far as that character has ever been probably, you know, similar to my own upbringing.
When I was a young teenager and I’ve maybe been a couple counties over and that’s it. And so, to leave of many states away. Or you know, to leave home and leave all she’s ever known is is really scary and also feels like a betrayal. You know knowing you’re going to be left here in these not great circumstances, only to to work so hard to get me away from it. I think all of those play a role and why she closes the door on our own.
CRITICOLOGOS: What do you expect, for anyone that watches this movie to relate to it?
Nicole Riegel: I think they’ll relate to all the universal human feelings and beams of empathy and compassion and heart in it, but I really hope that they look at Appalachia where I’m from and have a more empathetic portrait of it. A fuller portrait of it than what’s in the media and say, wow, look at how important it is. Someone like Nicole to be behind the camera and have someone out of Appalachia to actually get to tell that story and you get a more nuanced and, dare I say, fun experience when that happens, because all of haulers not doom and gloom. You know there there’s warmth in a sense of humor to it.
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