"When writing, I like to work for maybe four or five hours- anything more than that and I tend to get mentally exhausted."

About Ross Munro – filmmaker and actor

RMunro_8x10blcktRoss Munro is a fiercely independent filmmaker/actor born in Winnpeg, Canada the same year Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” was released (1963). After the painful realization that he’d never become a professional hockey player for his beloved Philadelphia flyers, Ross turned to his love of movies and passionately pursued his dream of being a filmmaker and actor. Specializing in writing films known for their edgy dialogue and big-dreaming fringe dwelling characters (“Brester McGee”, A Legacy of Whining”), Ross’s passion and spirit for following his big screen dreams have never waned. Just like a plucky boxer, Ross may hit the canvass at times but always manages to pick himself up before the final count and even manage to throw a heavy jab or two in the ring of cinematic creativity.

The Interview

1. What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?

My passion to realize my visions is what really drives me forward. I am fuelled by all the great works of art – cinema, literature, etc. –  that inspire me. I’m also fuelled by the encouragement and meaningful relationships of loved ones.

2. Can you talk about your greatest “failure”? (something that led to your most significant shift in consciousness, and made you who you are today).

My greatest ‘failure’ was probably a few years ago when I was at my lowest emotional/inspirational ebb. I was in between creative projects and feeling very defeated. I was starting to doubt myself, but then I took stock of myself and my goals. I realized that I held the key to controlling my life, and I reached that critical “now or never” mass. I started new screenplays, began to write a novel, and studied acting. I realized that all changes come from within, and that I actually do decide my own destiny.

3. Are you happy? What does happiness mean to you?

I am happy in that I feel blessed and fulfilled to be working on many artistic projects (present and future).  I’m also happy to be able to share and work on these with my wife Maria. She is my Producer and main champion of my work, talent, and abilities.

4. What do you think is your greatest strength? On the reverse, can you identify a personal challenge (something you currently struggle with)?

My greatest strength comes in the form of my creative juices that are constantly coming up with new ideas/projects. Conversely, it sometimes feels like my main nemesis is the same thing. I tend to get overwhelmed with all that I want to accomplish. Sometimes I feel like I can’t finish them all.

5. When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? Can you talk about that moment or time in your life?

P1060752I originally wanted to be a rock n roll musician. This was the first art form I actively pursued (starting with bands back in highschool). I loved writing songs as I learned guitar. I used to love performing in front of people as a musician, and it was here that I first gained the confidence and realization that I wanted to follow a creative life.

I’ve always been passionate about cinema (especially the visionary masters). I eventually went to film school so I could get grounded in the basics of film.  In my new feature “A Legacy of Whining” I was able to dovetail both of my cinematic and music pursuits. I wrote and recorded the main song used in the film.

6. Habits, routine, morning rituals — What are the positive things you do daily that have had the most significant impact on your life and work?

When writing, I like to work for maybe four or five hours- anything more than that and I tend to get mentally exhausted. When I’m ready to write, I grab my computer or notebook and head to a favourite coffee shop, and then plug in my headphones for some inspirational music (usually music that suits the tone of the project I’m working on).

Right now, I’m working on a script for a 50’s-era rock band. I’ve been listened to a lot of Elvis to help get me more plugged into the creative vision.

7. How do you deal with doubt? Where do you go for support?

P1080233I like to run a lot of my thoughts and worries through my wife- she is a good listener. I  sometimes  worry about things quite badly (but I’m improving!).

Typically I don’t worry all that much. I like to just move forward with my vision and really trust it.

8. What, in your opinion, are the qualities of someone who is a “great” artist (in whatever discipline)?

The greatest artists in my opinion are those with the most passionate and singular vision! I feel that the greatest all tend to plow the same theme continuously. They are relentless and fearless in their exploration of these important themes. They will leave no stone unturned- even at the cost of painful self-evaluation and truth-seeking.

9. Any advice for artists on a similar path? (Perhaps advice you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out).

I think it’s great to get advice from people in many fields — you should incorporate all the meaningful things gleaned from this process —  but, in the end, ALWAYS follow your personal instincts and vision. In this way you can NEVER fail!

10. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship to money? Has your relationship to money changed over the years?

P1080945Especially with making feature films (and even more so when you are financing them yourselves!), money – or a lack of it– is something that always manages to rear its head.

I’ve never dreamed of making tons of money but, instead, have mostly wished that I might had enough to allow me to live off while I work on my projects.

However, the reality is that with my two feature films (“Brewster McGee” and “A Legacy of Whining”) I’ve had to ride the stressful merry-go-round of refinancing my home, jamming up several credit cards to the max, high interest rate loans, cashing out everything in my name…

I always tell myself I’ll never engage in this kind of perilous financial behaviour but, in the end, I’m always drawn to the seductive lure of my muse. I’m willing to go to extreme lengths to complete a film!

11. Ever experience flow/being in the zone? What does it feel like for you, and can you tell us about a time when you experienced it?

Once I’ve accumulated a notebook full of ideas/scenes/characters/dialogue for an upcoming film script, I usually just “plug in” and let it flow through me. It’s like I’m some kind of conduit; the artistic side of my brain flows directly through my fingers. It’s like an actor when he’s no longer remembering his lines but instead is in the moment. That’s when the real productivity comes!

The writing no longer feels like a process but transforms into voice that takes control of my being.

12. What is your favourite book? It could be about your craft, or maybe just an excellent story. If that is too difficult to answer, who are your favourite authors?

Probably my favorite book(s) are the novels Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and 2666 by Chilean author Roberto Bolano.

Both of them soar into the stratosphere as they probe through black humour and soul-shaking drama the crushing absurdities of humanity and society. These are books that I can go to if I need to  re-affirm the potential greatness of art and the profound effect it has on me to inspire- to fearlessly move forward into the great maw of the artistic abyss towards this elusive thing known as creativity.

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 About The Creative Life Interview Series

“Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done” said John Patrick Shanley. Likewise, Creative Life is a safe place to share ‘unsafe’ things that need to be said.

The stories and interviews from this site share the personal experiences of courage, fear, vulnerability, flow, creativity, and happiness from the perspective of the artist.

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“ALWAYS follow your personal instincts and vision” – an interview with Ross Munro
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These conversations are about the creative soul. They are the true experiences of creatives with their own creative impulse, and they are the private (made public) reflections on what creativity feels like on a very personal level. All interviews are conducted by Christine Bissonnette