Ripe! With Love at Tribeca

It’s that time of year again: screenings, panels & parties light up downtown at Tribeca, NYC’s annual cultural festival beaming the most exciting projects in film & beyond into the spotlight.
Hot off this year’s short film circuit is Ripe!, a coming-of-age romance through a refreshingly authentic LGBTQ+ female perspective. The movie was dreamt up by Tusk, produced by Cookie Walukas and Tusk in partnership with Japonica Films, and executive produced by Luke Anderson of Juxtapose Studio, as well as U.S. Olympic and World Cup champion soccer player Kelley O'Hara, who made her EP debut with partner Kameryn Stanhouse. 

After premiering their story to festival-goers, the cast, crew & friends headed east to The Penthouse at The Standard, East Village for well-deserved revelries. Cast & crew made appearances, as guests sipped on “Sophie” and “Gloria” cocktails, aptly named after the film’s main characters.

We chatted up the visionaries behind the project, co-directors Kerry and Olivia of Tusk, to hear more about what they’re cooking up for the big screens. 
What inspired you to create the characters of Sophie and Gloria? Are there any parallels to your own love story? 

Sophie was shaped by the fear of taking up too much space in a place you feel you don’t belong to, both geographically and in your own skin. For Gloria we saw a character quite opposite - one who behaves with conviction beyond her years. She lies big but tells the truth big too. We shoved the pair together to see what would spark. I wouldn’t say they parallel our own love story but they are definitely shaped by our own feelings of angst (both related to queerness and beyond) that we experienced in our teens and 20s.

With soccer playing a major role in the film’s plot, there are few people more fitting to be a part of the production than esteemed soccer champ Kelley O’Hara. We especially loved seeing BTS footage of her coaching the actors on proper soccer techniques. How were you initially connected with Kelley, and how did her involvement enhance the project?

We met Kelley through one of our EPs Luke Anderson. Luke went to college with Kelley and was like “what do you guys think about pitching this to her?” We were immediately like “uhhhh yeah..!” The spirit you see from Kelley on the soccer field is exactly what you get from Kelley as an EP. She champions us hard and supports our creative tirelessly. For example we were at the very end of our editing process and feeling good about what we were hoping was the final cut and after sending to Kelley we got a voice memo from her and fiancé / fellow EP Kameryn spilling with this almost childlike excitement and certainty that we knew it was right. It felt like the stamp of approval we really needed. Kelley validates us and recharges us during a process that can be very emotionally draining.

Why did you choose to film during summer in Spain, and how did the location and climate affect the art direction of the film?

We were visiting rural Catalonia and inspired by the feeling of timelessness in the small towns, as well as by the people we met. (One of the people, Rita Roca, actually became the actor for Gloria!) We’ve been obsessed with the dreamlike romance genre for a while, films like Before Sunrise or Call Me By Your Name that really drip with this classic beauty and some escapism, and when you add a queer storyline to a “classic” feel it feels right to us. Spain specifically Catalonia has a lot of cultural pride as well that was an interesting context to the theme of pride versus shame that we were exploring. 
The Mediterranean seascapes and color palette were also inspiring to us and we shaped a color palette around the natural tones that slightly increased the saturation and vibrancy, to give it even more of a rich flare that you don’t often see in lesbian films. We called it an electric mermaid palette.

Would you say that producing a short film over a full-length feature sparks inspiration or does the length pose creative limitations? 

Well we’ve never made a feature so can’t fully attest to that process! But our short did come from a feature length script we wrote first, so we felt like we knew our characters in a bigger world because of that. Making a short is definitely difficult though. We beat ourselves up for a long time both in writing and editing because it took so much time to figure out what the real heart of the story was with such little screen time. There was a scene deleted and also a scene added in post, and so many lines rearranged. Some people were like “it shouldn’t be longer that 15 minutes or you won’t get into festivals or you’ll bore your audience, or blah blah blah,” and that feedback was always in the back of our mind but in the front of our mind we just focused on keeping the character tension up and the audience on their toes. The short ended up being 18 mins.

Unrelated, but we read that you moonlight as unicycle specialists. Did you both pick up this hobby together or were you experts before you met each other at USC?

Haha yes the rumors are true—we all have our special talents. And yes we were experts before we met. Fate brought these jokers together :)


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