The film centers on Calvin, a struggling writer who discovers new inspiration in a character he's created, Ruby Sparks. He writes page after page before he suddenly realizes he's in love with this fictional, perfect woman he has created. And just as he's trying to wrap his head around becoming emotionally invested in someone who isn't real, she appears one morning in his kitchen. Once he gets over the intial shock, he begins a whirlwind relationship, one that takes him through the high and lows of an intense love. And when we spoke to the directors recently, it was this ambitious premise that attracted them to it. "I loved that in this high concept story, there were all these human truths in it. It was about relationships, it was about control, and also, a whole parallel track about the creative process and the desire to force something into existence as a creative person," Dayton said.
One of the most striking difference audiences will notice between "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Ruby Sparks" is in the look of the film, with the directorial pair enlisting Darren Aronofsky's regular cinematographer Matthew Libatique to lens the picture. An eager and creative collaborator, the decision to shoot digitally brought with it some interesting approaches on set, including the use of an Apple product to light a scene. "One of the things that attracted us to the Alexa was that we knew there were a lot of night scenes and we wanted to able to shoot in a room and see the city lights outside the window. And so we were able to shoot in virtually no light. We took an iPad -- we wanted Calvin to be lit by his alarm clock numbers -- [and] put [it] on a C-stand above his head, and that was the total illumination," Dayton explained. Faris adds: "The gaffer and Matty were just so excited, because you could just change the color so easily on the iPad, 'We don't need gels anymore!' "
But not matter what they were using, it comes down to the people involved, and on "Ruby Sparks" they had a great experience. In addition to praise for Libatique, they also credited their leading cast members for their efforts, in an overall production that challenged them in new ways. "It was different in terms of working with a smaller cast. One of the things that was so unique about 'Little Miss Sunshine' was that it was an ensemble movie, so almost every scene had six people in it. And you get kind of used to that, there's something so great about the way actors play off each other. But we did have that with Paul and Zoe. It was so much fun to see how they worked as Ruby and Calvin and fell into those roles," Faris reflected.
As for where they'll go next, nothing is confirmed just yet, but they assured us that we won't be waiting another six years for them to get behind the camera. "We're going to do a pilot next for HBO," Dayton said, with Collider revealing it has been penned by comic writer Daniel Clowes, "and we have other film projects that we've been working that we'll continue to pursue. Our kind of film, the budget range we work in, I think is sort of the harder film to get made. We don't have the big selling point, it's not a franchise or superhero movie...We're kind of in that mid range that is the toughest film to get made."
But hopefully, "Ruby Sparks" will be a reminder why this pair are worth the investment. The film opens in limited release today. Check out some clips below.