Victor Nunez Professes Independent Film


TALLAHASSEE — If he were to do it over, the film “Ruby in Paradise” would likely be a different shade of “red” if it were shot today, Director Victor Nunez said in an exclusive interview.

Mr. Nunez’ first notable feature film-length film was “Ruby in Paradise,” which starred a then-unknown Ashley Judd.  The film won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival.

His films tell of the emotions and struggles of everyday people, and his characters are so compelling they often attract top talent.  Mr. Nunez followed “Ruby in Paradise” with “Ulee’s Gold,” (1997) in which he directed Peter Fonda. Mr. Fonda won a Golden Globe and was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and Screen Actors Guild Award.

But Mr. Nunez has been quietly — and humbly — living his life in Tallahassee, making his films, most recently “Coastlines,” (2002) and “Spoken Word” (2009).

A few years back, he started teaching his craft at the university level, accepting a position as professor at Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts.

A founding member of the Independent Feature Project, Mr. Nunez is staunchly independent, and is known for writing and directing his films.

Many things have changed since 1993, Mr. Nunez said.  And if he were to do it now, new technology and an ever-changing industry climate might prompt him to use a different technology.

One of the new developments since “Ruby in Paradise” was produced, is use of the RED camera, he said.

“The university is committed to the REDs,” Mr. Nunez said. “A lot of people are using the REDs.”

The dedicated Florida resident, whose films have captured many an audience for their photography and character portrayals of everyday people, said he did bring “Ruby” up to date throuh a restoration process.

“I did a digital restoration on ‘Ruby,'” he said. “And of course, I would like to get distribution on the film.”

Last time I saw Mr. Nunez was the last day of the 1993 Sundance Film Festival with the top prize in his arms.  He was an anticipated entry to the festival then, and since “Ruby,” he has made several films, notably “Ulee’s Gold,” with Peter Fonda.

The 1993 award was shared with “Public Access” by Bryan Singer, who has gone on to direct several big-budget studio pictures such as “X-Men,” “X2,” and “Valkyrie.”

But Mr. Nunez remains in Florida, true to his roots and his desires — to work independently, creating films on subjects that are important to him.

“I shot ‘Ruby in Paradise’ on Super 16,” he said. “There are so many options and all are amazing. But there’s still something wonderful about film.”

Mr. Nunez who has been teaching at Florida State for the last few years humbly calls himself a filmmaker, who “teaches nine months out of the year.”

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