Courtesy of Quinn Rudee
"Shuffle," a 17-minute thriller that features Ballard residents as producer, assistant director and actor, premiers May 22 at the Seattle International Film Festival.

Ballard-produced "Shuffle" makes it to SIFF

Ballard resident Quinn Rudee has worked on films including "Zoolander" and "Beverly Hills Cop" as part of Paramount’s special features division. Rudee's most recent gig is as producer of the short film "Shuffle," which will premiere later this month at the Seattle International Film Festival.

"Shuffle" assistant director Tony Becerra and actor Brent David Fraser are also Ballard residents.

Filmed in and around Seattle with a local cast and crew, "Shuffle" is a 17-minute thriller about a hitman who must play one last round of poker with the mob boss who raised him within a criminal house of cards.

How did the idea for the film come about?

Actor, writer and executive Aron Michael Thompson approached director Garrett Bennett with the script, originally planned as a feature. He wanted to do it as a short. Things happened really fast. We had a week of pre-production, which is insanely short for a film this ambitious. It was a three-day shoot—three very full days.

What attracted you to the project?

With short films, it’s such a limited medium. You have a very limited amount of time to tell a story. [Thompson and Bennett] wanted to have the main character go through the same arc as a feature film, but you have 15 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half. It’s a challenge, but we feel we accomplished it. That focus was most interesting to me.

What emotions does the audience feel as they’re watching the film?

The most satisfying is shock and surprises in the all the right places. You literally hear people gasp. Catching people off guard, for me, is the most satisfying

Because it’s centered around one game of poker, what was it like to structure a film almost entirely around dialogue instead of action?

What really inspired this poker game was the dialogue. [Thompson] and [Bennett] were big fans of Steve McQueen films. The main character focuses less on dialogue and more on emoting through his look. That entire scene where all the dialogue takes place was on the last day of shooting. Of a 15 page script, that was seven pages of it.

Was it always a goal to get it into the Seattle International Film Fesitval?

Yeah, for sure. The SIFF is important to all of us because we’re all locals. It's really exciting.

What was the most difficult scene to shoot?

One that comes to mind is a scene in a car. There were just more logistical challenges – the car battery died, it started to rain, it was the end of our day where we didn’t have much time to shoot. Logistically, that was a headache.

What do you have coming up next?

Right now, [Bennett] and I have a feature film that we just finished the script for called "Dirt." We just started pitching that, and we’re in the fundraising stages. It’s a thriller with some horror elements about a young man and his father’s murder mystery. It brings up some big questions about his own past, which leads to him questioning things about himself and who he truly is.

The Seattle International Film Festival starts May 20 and includes more than 400 films from 67 countries in 25 days at 16 venues around Seattle, Kirkland and Everett.

Shuffle premiers at 4:30 p.m. on May 22 at the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the Seattle International Film Festival Web site.

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