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Love, life and Ruby: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton share insight on new film, ‘Ruby Sparks’

By Michelle Tennis
Photo by Amber Kelley

With sharing a great passion for music, and after producing numerous music videos and documentaries for bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction and Oasis, it’s no surprise that passion of directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris has orchestrated and translated seamlessly onto the silver screen. Following the success of their first full-length feature film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” the pair is embarking on their next wave of success with the release of the film, “Ruby Sparks.” “Ruby Sparks” is the story of a novelist’s vision who inexplicably comes to life, only to prove far more complicated than even he could have imagined. With a light touch and a dash of magical realism, it is the first screenplay from actress and playwright Zoe Kazan. The film takes an unpredictable route into fantasy, identity and the ways we invent love – and how love can reinvent us.

CinemaCLIPS recently participated in a roundtable interview with Dayton and Faris about the film and more. Below are some highlights from that interview. Michelle Tennis with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

(Q): Do you prefer feature films to working with rock bands?

(A-Faris): They’re both really fun. I miss doing videos and loved working with bands. But one of the pleasures of doing this film was collaborating with Nick Urata who is in a band [DeVotchKa]. Working with musicians is so much fun and music is really one of our first loves.
(A-Dayton): I’ve always loved how music works in a film. So we still get to do a little bit of that. I love doing videos, but they’re not the same force that they used to be with MTV not playing videos. I’m very happy where we are.
(A-Faris): We still would do a music video if the right one came along, at the right time.

(Q): What was the significance of the main character using an old-fashioned typewriter throughout most of the film, but moving on to a Mac near the end?

(A-Faris): I think that is symbolic of him moving on and entering a more open life. He’s joining the rest of world. He’s getting out of his head. With a computer you have access to the rest of the world. It’s just symbolic of him opening up a little and being less reclusive.


(Q): Now that you have your second film under your belt, what was easier and what was harder this time around?

(A- Dayton): It was exciting to have something else to say. We love ‘Little Miss Sunshine;’ we’re really proud of it, but we didn’t want that to be our legacy. That was really about exploring families and this is more about exploring what happens in romantic relationships. So, it felt really good to stretch it to a new area and yet still have that mix of humor and emotion as ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’
(A-Faris): What was hard for us in going to do another movie was to love it as much as we loved ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ We had such a good time making that movie and loved the script and the characters so much. And then we did feel that way with this movie. But as with a lot of other stuff we were working on…it’s tough getting to that point where you feel good about the whole thing. It doesn’t happen that often. It’s like falling in love. It’s not that easy to find someone you feel that way about. We kind of need to fall in love with a project. There were many things that were easier because we’ve done it before; we trusted ourselves a little more. They’re all hard because each one has its own set of challenges.
(A-Dayton): ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ wasn’t a typical family comedy. I feel like ‘Ruby Sparks’ is also not really a romantic comedy. It’s kind of like a genre bender. That’s something we’re eager for audiences to understand.

(Q) As husband and wife, how would you describe your working relationship and would you write any changes for each other?

(A-Faris): We’re parents and we worked together for over 20 years. We just kind of have a method. It’s a lot about the way we finish each other’s sentences. It’s a constant dialogue about whatever it is we’re doing and problem solving together. I think most filmmakers have somebody they problem solve with on set. It’s a collaborative medium. It starts here and then it filters to everybody we’re working with.
(A-Dayton): But we love what we do. So that makes it possible. If we didn’t like it, it would be torture because there would be no escape.
(A-Faris): I wish he were an amazing chef. He’s a good cook, but that’s something I would change.
(A-Dayton): She’s perfect.

For more information on “Ruby Sparks,” visit Check local listings for showtimes.

Michelle Tennis, social media manager and feature writer for, can be reached at or follow her on twitter @CinemaCLIPS

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