March 28, 2011

SCA Family Stories: Eric Ruiz

Writer/Director/Producer of Tribunal Talks About His Process

Eric Ruiz was born in the Bronx and grew up in San Diego. At the age of eight, he told his mother he was going to be making movies one day. In 1999, Eric graduated from the School of Cinematic Arts with a BA in Production. Twelve years later, his first feature film, the detective thriller Tribunal is set to debut at the Montalban Theater in Los Angeles.

Eric Ruiz '99

Eric recently caught up with SCA Family Stories to tell us about his new project and give some advice to graduating students on how to communicate on set.

Congratulations on your success with Tribunal. Talk a little bit about how the film came about. I conceptualized Tribunal after watching a documentary on the French Revolution. My goal was to encapsulate the essence of that historic moment into the lives of contemporary characters and present it in cinematic form.

Did you have most of the team together from other projects or were you starting from the beginning? We put the team together from scratch.

In the twelve years since graduation, how did you get by financially? I support myself working as a Search Engine Marketing Acquisition Specialist for companies like Walt Disney, Legalzoom, and Investors Business Daily. The work is satisfying because I work in a team environment directing marketing efforts in the world of online marketing. It has provided me with an opportunity to write and participate in various film projects at varying capacities before I decided to delve into my own project. I believe that getting experience in the field and watching the process unfold is invaluable to a first-time film director, writer or producer.

You graduated from SCA in 1999, how has filmmaking changed the most in the twelve years since you were a student? Technology! It has made the impossible possible for many more motion picture artists. People today can make their dreams a reality. If you are not writing, producing, directing, acting or creating, in whatever capacity you resonate in, within the movie industry, I believe you only have yourself to blame. I wrote, directed, produced, edited, sound mixed and finalized this movie with an off-the-shelf camera and a PC laptop computer. I believe anybody with the right mindset can do it too.

Tell me more about that mindset, you are credited as the writer, producer and director on Tribunal, how did that mindset inform the different aspects of the film? With producing Tribunal, you learn to spend within your means. You improvise whenever you can, you give out a lot of hugs and handshakes to get the job done and you’ve got to be organized. Really organized! You should see my spreadsheets!

With writing Tribunal, I love to write. I wrote Tribunal in twenty days. I write. I don’t think about it. I don’t edit and reedit, I just write. If you’re not laughing, crying, or in shock when you write, you’re not writing from your heart. Write what you love. So far I’ve written five screenplays, two teleplay pilots, three reality television concepts and a horror short that I produced and was awarded finalist in two Los Angeles horror film festivals.

Directing Tribunal --this is the space I resonate in. I love to work with people. Like I previously said, I give out a lot of hugs and handshakes. Directing Tribunal was a lot of hugs and handshakes to get the job done. When you direct, you really get to know your characters and yourself. Communication is key. I say, hone your skills as a communicator.

Do you have any specific advice on how an SCA student can hone their communications skills? Yes, I was given a bit of advice about communicating with others a while back. It was that we have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. We should listen and observe twice as much as we speak. And when we speak, to do so wisely. Many problems on the set are solved by listening and observing.

If you can pinpoint one, what’s the one lesson from SCA that you find yourself using the most in the real world? The motion picture industry is a business. Don’t get me wrong on this; movies and filmmaking are art, in fact, all arts combined. But you have to learn the business to do the art well and make a living at it. SCA helped me to focus on the areas of the business while I was having fun with the art. Tribunal is my time to have fun with the art.

It took some time for your first directing and writing credit; do you have any advice for recent SCA graduates who getting close to graduation? My advice is to keep it simple, use the tools readily available to you and ignore the naysayers. It’s not important what everyone else is doing or not doing. Live your own movie and let the universe make your dreams happen.

A free screening of Tribunal is being held in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 2nd.

WHAT: Free Screening of Tribunal: A film by SCA alumnus Eric Ruiz
WHEN: Saturday, April 2nd.Doors Open at 6:30 PM
WHERE: The Montalban Theater. 1615 Vine St. Hollywood, CA 90028

This is a free event.

More information at