Mary De Ruse remembers the exact moment she fell in love with the movies. As a little girl, her dad took her to see a double feature at the Turlock cinema. As “Smokey and the Bandit” led into the “The Sting,” De Ruse said it was as if time had stopped clicking by and everything outside of that theater had melted away.
“I fell in love with movies that day,” De Ruse said in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home. “It was a new world opening before my eyes.”
Now, De Ruse has taken that love of movies and made it her life’s work. The Turlock native has been working in the movie-making business for years now and currently has a screenplay entered in the first ever MovieHatch.com competition.
MovieHatch.com is an online venue for new and emerging filmmakers. In their inaugural “Makin’ Movies Feature Film Competition,” aspiring filmmakers and writers were invited to enter a video pitch and synopses of an original feature film idea. The online site has narrowed the field down to a 100 entries that the public can view and vote on through Nov. 15. The 10 film ideas that generate the most votes will go directly to a group of Hollywood production companies, agents, and managers, and one or more could be chosen for a film deal.
“It is exciting to think that anyone can have the ear of Hollywood and help determine what will appear in their local theaters,” says MovieHatch.com founder and CEO, Lauren Williams. “For Hollywood, MovieHatch is taking the guesswork out of selecting the next great film to make by showing them exactly what moviegoers want to see while providing a real chance for emerging talent to have their ideas hand delivered to the right people.” De Ruse said she was contacted by MovieHatch.com and encouraged to submit a pitch for the competition.
“I almost didn’t enter the competition because at least in some sense, it is a popularity contest,” De Ruse said. “And I am a writer through and through, which means popular doesn’t even enter into my vocabulary.
“Ultimately, I decided to give it a try because I really felt like this is my best work yet,” she said. “I was impressed by MovieHatch’s roster of ‘A’ list producing partners and it has always been my intention to work with these talented producers, this competition may give me the opportunity to do so.”
De Ruse’s submission “Monique and the Falcon,” is a redemptive drama set in a Mexican prison. It tells the story of Carlos, a young smuggler in the Mexican drug cartel who goes by the nickname of Falcon and the friendship he forms with a nun working at the prison. The nun is Monique, a former Park Avenue socialite who has given up her life of wealth for one of faith. The nun and the criminal form a strong bond with one another as she guides him on a path of redemption.
De Ruse said she spent a lot of time researching and visiting prison so that the film would feel authentic.
“This is a story of redemption and transformation,” De Ruse said. “I wanted to write something life-affirming and in the end, I believe I accomplished that. It’s a very inspirational story.”
De Ruse, who still has family in the Turlock and Hughson areas, graduated from Turlock High School in 1981 and earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of La Verne. It was there that she met one of her first mentors, Barry Morrow, who penned the Oscar winning screenplay “Rain Man.”
“I’m very grateful for all the mentors who have encouraged me over the years,” De Ruse said. “They have helped me immensely, especially during those times when I doubted myself.”
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