Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Ruthie Marantz

By Catherine Woo

Welcome to NYWIFT, Ruthie Marantz!

Born and raised in NYC, Ruthie has been making films on public access TV since she was 13 years old. Since then, her work has been shown at BAMcinemaFest, SeriesFest and Seattle International Film Festival. She has her M.F.A. from NYU’s Graduate Film Program, where she was recipient of the Leo Rosner, Maurice Kanbar, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences Scholarships.

Ruthie has directed and produced commercial work for clients including Netflix, LG, Samsung, Vice and Hearst. Her autobiographical pilot Rainbow Ruthie, which received funding from director Spike Lee, was accepted to the IFP Episodic Lab and premiered at SXSW, becoming Oscar eligible in 2019. More recently, she co-wrote the pilot to Southfield Supernovas, which won the 2020 SXSW Seriesfest Pitch-A-Thon.

Read more about Ruthie’s amazing stories from set and upcoming adventures here!


NYWIFT Member Ruthie Marantz


What brings you to NYWIFT?

I’m eager to join the community at NYWIFT so I can connect and expand my network and explore more about the programs they have. I’m honored to be a part of it. 


Your pilot, Rainbow Ruthie, is about a former teen star from Manhattan Public Access TV in the 90s reliving her glory days while facing tremendous grief. Where did you draw your inspiration from? Do you have any favorite memories from the set? Where do you see this story going in future episodes?

After sitting in a box for 20 plus years, I went and revisited my public access show I made as a teen. It was soon after my father had passed away and I was starting my thesis film at NYU Grad Film. I knew I wanted to write and direct a TV show, and in some ways had almost forgotten this part of my life existed. My inspiration to write the pilot was pulled from my life and the pain of nostalgia. Grief had changed me. Rainbow Ruthie was my attempt to make a comedy grounded in grief that explores the places where documentary and scripted meet.

In future episodes, Ruthie tries a variety of things to relaunch her life but realizes she is the only thing she is good at being authentically herself. One of my favorite memories from the set was driving in my car with just my DP (Arlen Konopaki) and other actor (Abraham Makany) in a circle in Brooklyn. It reminded me how filmmaking can be just a couple people making something — and how beautiful, simple, and hard it is at the same time. 


Ruthie Marantz on set


Rainbow Ruthie combines home movies from the 90s with contemporary footage, creating such a nostalgic and cool look” for the show. How did you come up with this aesthetic?

I had four years of footage to pull from. The hardest part was figuring out if the newer footage and older footage would cut together. Somehow, miraculously it worked! I tried to support the aesthetic by combining a 90s feeling in the titles but I wanted the current footage to be more of a grounded comedy feel. I had no idea the 90’s would come back in the vernacular but that was an added bonus!


Ruthie Marantz at SeriesFest


So many of your stories feature unlikely female heroes. How would you define an unlikely hero?” What is your process of coming up with a character and a story?

I am always interested in stories that highlight someone coming back from something, and then finding a new piece of who they are. Knowing yourself and what you want in your life isn’t linear. So, I tend to gravitate towards these characters. Also, growing up in New York, and seeing so many distinct pieces of people’s stories constantly. I am fascinated by people who can survive things and just keep going. It gives me hope watching those films, and that is usually where I pull from.

I usually start with an idea for a character from a song or feeling. But sometimes it is much more literal than that. Right now I am writing about motherhood, while parenting my one-year-old. Once I have a couple characters in the world, I can usually craft the story and what I’m trying to say.


Ruthie Marantz at South by Southwest Film Festival


In addition to film and TV, youve also worked on music videos. How is storytelling similar or different between them?

I think music videos and commercials all follow similar principles of storytelling. You want people to feel something and get the story quickly. So directing them has been valuable to developing my voice.  


Ruthie Marantz with Spike Lee


What is the most valuable lesson youve learned through your work? If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be? 

I think not wasting time on waiting for your break is a big one. You create your opportunities. And would just remind myself that getting to make movies is really a gift. To ignore the hundreds and hundreds of roadblocks and naysayers. Giving up is just not an option.


Ruthie Marantz at Seattle International Film Festival

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I just wrapped directing a comedy short Raging Doll starring Cathy Moriarty and Yamanieka Saunders, written by Jessica Catalano. It’s about a vain Millennial who gets in a boxing match with a 14-year-old. We shot it in the Bronx, and we are just starting post-production. Look out for it next year! 


You can keep up with Ruthie at ruthiemarantz.net and @RuthieMarantz on Instagram and Twitter/X. Learn more about her series at www.rainbowruthie.com.


Catherine Woo

Catherine Woo Catherine Woo is an intern at NYWIFT and an aspiring screenwriter. She will graduate from NYU Tisch with a BFA in Dramatic Writing in 2024. She has interned at Rattlestick Theater and Protozoa Pictures. She has done production photography for PrideFest 2023 at The Tank and Broke People Spring 2023 Play Festival at NYU.

View all posts by Catherine Woo

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