Ruth The Musical
Ruth The Musical
Feature film musical based on the story of Ruth in the Old Testament

How The Film Came About

Jay Moussa-Mann

I read the book of Ruth in the Bible in 2008 and felt I could relate to the story of Ruth, both culturally and emotionally. 

Growing up in a country where I knew what it was like to walk into a situation as a single, foreign woman and feel unprotected, I knew what it felt like to desperately need the protection of a man, in my case my father, when the society looked on me as someone with no status and no standing.

Because of that, I felt I could bring something to this story, but more than that, Ruth touched me as a love story. Boaz sees something in Ruth that no one else sees and is willing to marry beneath his class and do everything in his power to protect her. 

I started writing the songs in 2009 and simultaneously wrote the screenplay. I finished the first draft in 2 months, recorded the songs and left it to one side. I attempted to raise interest in the film then but did not have enough understanding of the industry to really move forward. I did manage to raise £600 seed-money. 

I came back to the screenplay in 2013 when I took my first draft and re-wrote it completely, using all the experience I had gained since my first draft and teaching I had learned through my recent degree. Using some of the seed-money I had saved, I sent a copy of this draft to the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum for their script report and received such positive feedback that I felt able to move forward with the development of the film. In 2016 I was accepted on to the Talent Modules: How To Get A First Feature Made a programme from NFM and Creative England which was extremely insightful into the process of making your first feature film. 

The Songs

I have always composed songs and I have always had an inherent love for filmmaking. Combining the two is where I feel the most comfortable and it is also the way I receive stories best, through visuals and song. 

Again, coming from a mix of East and West, I found this came through in the songs I wrote and all of the songs in the musical are strongly influenced by Turkish folk music. I found the words in the Bible so poetic, they just leant themselves to the songs and I though I did take creative license I tried to keep the heart of each song rooted in the original story. I wrote nearly all of them originally in Turkish and then re-wrote them in English and I was passionate about staying true to the Turkish style of the music as it's quite unique.

The songs are the heart of this film and most of the emotion and journey of the characters is played out through their individual songs. 

The World of the Film

Although the original story is set in Israel, I had always planned to shoot the film in a rural Eastern Turkish village setting. Now we will be shooting in the North East of the UK and I still stand by that vision of setting the film in a rural setting in a world that transcends time and place, using inspiration from Turkish village life and dress to create something new and fresh. Nadine Labaki made a similar choice in her film, Where Do We Go Now, although set in Lebanon and dealing with Lebanese issues, we do not know where the village is or whether we really are in that country at all - the story and the characters are more important. 

One of the most important locations for this film is the field in which Ruth works and meets Boaz. The North East of England has some stunning landscapes and really does lend itself to this setting.