Emily Diana Ruth first gained recognition on YouTube thanks to her Letters to July collection. Several short films later, she has released Cold – her first full-length web series – thanks to go90 and New Form. TenEighty speaks exclusively to Emily, alongside actor Todd Lowe, about the work behind the scenes that made Cold a reality…
Before Cold, Emily had tried her hand at writing and directing thanks to her two previous shorts: The Water’s Fine, and the original Cold short film – which was part of New Form Digital’s annual Incubator projects, funding YouTubers and short filmmakers to create pilots that have the potential to be developed into their own series.
“Something I really appreciate about short filmmaking is the fact that you can keep things simple, tell the story of a single moment and leave something to the imagination,” Emily explains.
New Form has seen many success stories over the past three years, most notably PJ Liguori’s Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures which was picked up by Vimeo, and recently took home three Streamy awards.
Emily’s original short film was part of New Form’s Incubator 2 (which also included Benjamin Cook’s The Imp of the Perverse, and Ghost Fighting Corporation by Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs) before being picked up by go90.
Suddenly, Emily found herself relocating to Canada for the duration of the show’s shoot, and dealing with a shift in her responsibilities as the scope of her project increased.
“What was different in this production was that there was so much that I’m used to being in charge of that I wasn’t,” she explains. “Usually I’m deep into the producing side of things – the business and logistical items that I don’t really enjoy and are incredibly distracting to the creative process.”
Emily reveals that she was faced with a set of new challenges that she wasn’t entirely expecting, and found herself trying to adjust to the magnitude of the project.
“I struggled a lot with the idea of, ‘Is this something I’m really cut out for? Am I forcing a career that doesn’t come naturally to me?’,” she says. “Impostor syndrome is a monster I had to battle this entire process – although I studied film production at university and spent the last six years making work, I’m still inclined to believe that I’m no good.”
Despite this, she remained optimistic and found herself settled thanks to a series of “tiny moments where something just clicks” which helped sedate the nagging feeling in her head.
“I think one of my proudest moments was during the editing process where I managed to, with my editor, sort of totally rework a scene. We called it our Frankenstein scene, because we literally chopped it up and created something entirely different from what it was meant to be,” says Emily.
“It was a giant, very complicated puzzle and we wouldn’t know until we were finished if it would work at all. In the end, we did it; filled in the plot and managed to seriously upgrade a scene, working towards a more exciting ending.
“That was one of the times I really felt like I might have a knack for this. Those moments were few and far between during this experience,” she adds.
Reflecting on her experience, Emily is grateful for how much scope the series gave her to explore Cold more deeply. “With a series there’s more of an expectation to tell a fully rounded story. There were so many more plot lines and ideas that we were able to explore in the series that I never would have had the time for in the original Cold short.”
One of the actors to join the cast of Cold was Todd Lowe – most famed for playing the lovable Terry Bellefleur in vampire drama True Blood, and Zack Van Gerbig in Gilmore Girls.
“When I got the job, I of course googled her and watched some of her short films online,” he recalls. “I saw that she had a great eye for atmosphere and shot composition. What I didn’t expect upon arriving to work was her confidence in her storytelling and her vocabulary with actors.
“She was very articulate with us while also letting us feel like we found our characters on our own,” he adds. “A true talent. Expect much more from her.”
Todd takes on the role of Tommy – an inmate who believes he’s been incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Contacting his teenage daughter Isla through a series of letters, he hopes to clear his name and reunite with her.
“Knock on wood, I’ve never been in prison! But loss and isolation from some family members is something I believe many of us can relate to,” he says. “Without getting too personal, I’ve felt that distance from loved ones.”
So what was it that made someone with a track record of successful network TV shows want to take part in an online series? For Todd, the answer was simple.
“[Emily’s] writing,” he says. “It always starts with the writing. I feel, for the most part, that the few shows I’ve been fortunate enough to work on have a unique voice and that usually means a quality show. As soon as I saw some of the dialogue I’d get to speak, I got excited and hoped to be hired.”
Cold is now available on go90.com, with new episodes released each Thursday.
Check out some of the following articles by TenEighty:
- Ten Things You Need to Know About Cold by Emily Diana Ruth
- Khyan Mansley, Sammy Paul, and Tim H Release Incubator 3 Videos
- Riyadh Khalaf Announces LGBTQ+ Documentary Series for BBC Three
- Dodie Clark: Quirky Little Thing
Follow @TenEightyUK on Twitter for updates or like TenEighty UK on Facebook.