Tool girl Mag Ruffman thinking outside the shop

April 8, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“My mind is ablaze with ideas!” declared Mag Ruffman. “And the pressure is on to get the pitch ready by June.” She went on to explain that, “between June and September, the networks shut down because there is always somebody on holiday. So, whatever you are pitching between June and September, all the right people are never there to make a decision.”

The foundation of her ideas and the pressure to coordinate them in time for a June pitch is the television series she has mind. Here is how it is done:

“Defining your characters is really the key – the conflicts, the problems – there are no end of stories. We can do something modern day. It’s a license to tell the stories from many points of view – lots of modern themes – all that polarity.

“We have the perfect area for filming – the beauty of the country – it would be great to have a big television shoot up here – there are government concessions to films being made above Highway 89.”

She beamed at the expanse of the material in her mind, just there for the telling, filming, processing – clippings on the editing floor.

Where and who, will be saved for her opening, us glued to the televisions.

She had come to the interview with her face slightly “tanned.” Her high colouring was explained, not by an exotic holiday but that she had been welding, making a little trellis for a silent auction to help some people.

“Welding is so incredibly soul-satisfying with metal. It has just enough life in it to be pliant. Not like wood – it doesn’t bend and you have to go the way it is.”

Ms. Ruffman admitted she is coming out from a low tide, as it were, and talked about it this way: “We get hunched down and we don’t want to move; we want to protect our comfort zone. Now I’m finished with my comfort zone.”

She said, “I’m really awake in a way I haven’t been for a long time.”

The production of a series, which hopes always, to last for some or several seasons, sounds like a magic place. “There’s a writers’ room – very collaborative – summits – lots of ideas, plots. A friend has a really great way of creating the momentum.

“Once you’ve got all  the characters sorted out, then you can do the pitch. The executive producers do the bridge financing until everything is in place – then the network takes over.”

Ms. Ruffman is coming to do a workshop, in Orangeville, an aid to entrepreneurial artists – for whom she has real empathy and a desire to guide them on their difficult way of self promotion.

This upcoming talk is a mini version of the one and two whole day workshops she has  done, which were very interactive and productive about making promotional videos – all the tricks and cleverness. Slow, fast, haze, focus. Interesting.

She is giving a talk on  April 25 at the Best Western, through the auspices of the Orangeville and Area Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC), titled Creativity Under Pressure.: Inspiration for Artists and Entrepreneurs.

She said, “I am the Tool Girl and so, there have to be tools.”

Whatever we are doing, we need the tools with which to it.

Mag Ruffman explained: “There are creatives and entrepreneurs – artists are a little bit of both: creatives see things differently. Artists have to answer to what’s in their heads and please the world.

“It’s so easy to be humiliated or disapproved of –I’ll share my ‘tools’ to get us through disapproval and looking confident when we’re not.”

Ms. Ruffman has recently been part of the filming of Alias Grace, the Sarah Polley production based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, which is now a six-part CBC miniseries. It is set to be shown in the fall. She plays the governor’s wife.

At another level, she commented, “For me, it’s physiological- most interesting -go straight to the mind that allows you to be in the moment: I can do an audition or a pitched moment and win the day.”

She talked to us about what she thinks, “We all benefit when people are being their true selves and bringing the best from themselves.. Being with people when they can see I’m holding my heart open so their hearts can relax.

“I used to do the Home Show;  I was always the wild card but I talked about the process. What it takes to get there. When we are talking from our gut, everybody benefits. When they feel free outside to be as weird as they are – whatever makes you weird is what’s wanted; what makes you special.”

Privately, Ms. Ruffman belongs to and would recommend others to form, a mastermind group: maybe, but not necessarily, like-minded, people who come together through nothing more organized than their willingness to do so, to talk.

“We get together to discuss everything with each other – self expression,” she told us. “It is endlessly instructive and helpful. Everybody gets 20 minutes to go through whatever they’re going through and get advice from the others.”

She offered the thought: “You’ve got to let go the things you can’t control – believe me, it’s uncomfortable. Your mind wants to predict outcomes and when it can’t, it’s not a happy psyche.

“It’s my desire to teach: the primates don’t teach but humans do teach each other; so we can all improve and have a better experience and I love that. And people love to learn.”

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