Rod Ruel is the producer of the new documentary Music is the Medicine that follows Six Nations blues-rocker Derek Miller and has its broadcast debut next week on APTN. RPM talks to Rod about the making of the documentary, the feedback so far and some words of wisdom for young filmmakers.
RPM: What’s your name, location and occupation?
RR: Rodney Ruel, Canada, Producer.
RPM: How did you become involved in the Music is the Medicine project?
RR: It started out with wanting to make a rock’n’roll documentary. I had known Derek for quite a few years and after discussing it with Jody Hill (co-producer) and Lindsay Rusheleau (Director) we couldn’t think of anyone better to do a doc on. He’s extremely talented, totally charismatic and has a story that rock’n’roll legends are made of. He’s played with some of the greats, has won all these awards, received all this industry acclaim and works harder than anyone I know but, unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to break through. We were hoping that this doc might help shine the spotlight on him a little more. We took the pitch to Lynn Booth at Make Believe Media and she instantly saw the potential in Derek and his story and came on board with us. From there APTN and Knowledge licensed it… so check it out on APTN Dec 7th at 10pm nationwide and check us out online for the future air date on Knowledge.
RPM: What were some of the challenges in documenting a story like Music is the Medicine?
RR: Derek is one of those guys who lives life by the moment, always flying by the seat of his pants, “gotta move, gotta move” as he says which makes trying to follow him with a camera quite a challenge. We would be heading out ready to film him at a certain location and then on the way we would get a text that the plans had changed and to meet him somewhere else…well on the way to that new location we would get another text from him or Niki Cooke, his assistant, that plans had changed again. And on and on…
RPM: On the flip side of that, what were some of the strengths?
RR: The strengths would be the same as the challenges. What makes Derek a great character is that nothing is boring, nothing is static and you never know what you’re going to get from him one moment to the next. It’s quite inspirational to watch someone throw caution to the wind and live by their instinct and heart.
RPM: What has the feedback been like for the film?
RR: It’s been great so far. For all the fans of Derek, they feel they’ve been able to see a small snippet of his life and story that they otherwise may not have gotten to see and for those who didn’t know of Derek before, they come away in awe of his talent, his music. I think the most consistent response is just how much Derek inspires.
RPM: Do you have any words for young filmmakers out there trying to launch their careers as documentary filmmakers?
RR: Well it’s definitely not easy and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. You just have to be persistent, believe in yourself and the story you want to tell, no matter how many doors get shut in front of you, no matter how impossible the odds of getting it done might seem. The journey you will go through will seem like madness, insanity and absolute chaos at times but when you get through to the other side, that journey will never be forgotten.
RPM: What’s next for Rod Ruel?
RR: I will take a page out of Derek’s book on this one and figure that out moment by moment.
RPM: Shout outs?
RR: To everyone who had a hand involved in making this doc and joining us on our journey through our own little piece of madness.
Music is the Medicine airs December 7th, 2011, on ATPN at 10pm across Canada.
Watch the trailer for Music is the Medicine: