Hey Everyone! I recently had a chance to interview Ross Munro, the writer director behind European Tour 73 a documentary film with animated elements about Monroe’s family holiday to Europe when he was a child. We discuss, travel, family and Fellini. I hope you enjoy.
Q: If you had to sum up European Tour 73 in a word what would it be?
Q: Who is your filmmaking inspiration?
A: Fellini for his wild inventiveness and powerfully visual poetic sense combined with his dreamlike sensibilities and almost child-like sense of nostalgia. I grew up going to movies in the early 1970s so the New Hollywood filmmakers like Scorsese and Altman were also a big influence. More currently I’m excited by Tarantino and PT Anderson.
Q: What was your catalyst for making the film?
A: As both my mother and father have passed away, I felt compelled to make “ET’73” as a loving tribute to them and their memories and, in a way, to immortalize this crazy trip they took us all on back in 1973 as it seemed like a seminal event that really defined and brought us together as a family.
Q: If you could go back in time to when you were first starting out as a filmmaker what would be some advice you would give yourself?
A: I would tell myself to break through the fear that I had about moving forward to make films and that it’s okay to make “mistakes” as they are actually learning experiences that in the long run will make you a better artist and person. Also, try and take a little time to absorb and enjoy the journey of making your films and don’t worry so much about the destination down the road. Also, always try to seek out like-minded, passionate collaborators.
Q: What made you decide to include animation in your film?
A: With “European Tour ’73” we knew from the beginning that we wanted to tell the story of our family’s trip to Europe using every visual element in the cinematic toolbox- along with the core of Super 8mm film that composed the heart of the film, we used stock footage, photos, live action footage that we shot and so animation was the next logical extension of how to tell our story. It was quite exciting to work with the animator on these segments and really added a new, exciting dimension to our film that viewers have repeatedly commented on favourably. I’m actually planning on doing more original animation for our next documentary as well.
Q: How did you decide on the balance between animation and stock footage within your film?
A: The goal was always to just punctuate our film with the animated segments to add depth and humour and insight to the proceedings- of course once the film was completed I had more ideas that I would have loved to see in the film but, alas, that’s always the case when you look at a finished film: you always see the things you wish you’d included.
Q: What would you say the message of European Tour 73 is?
A: Oddly, I’ve never been asked that before. I’d say the message is to appreciate the time you are gifted on this planet to spend time with your family and loved ones. Even though the film is very joyful I can’t but help to feel also a small sliver of sadness that my parents and my eldest brother Jim- who passed while we worked on the film- never had a chance to see “European Tour ’73” as it’s a testament to my memories of them as much as anything.
Q: Within the family unit how important do you think shared experiences are?
A: I think you can’t overstate the importance of shared family experiences- especially growing up. My parents always strived to raise us in a manner where myself and my five siblings always did things together- the trip to Europe back in 1973 being the highlight of that philosophy. Because of their efforts to have us do things constantly as a family unit, I was able to move on through life having a great relationship with all my brothers and sister- almost like we are friends. This bedrock foundation is absolutely a direct result of my parents notion that we share as much time as possible as a family growing up.
Q: Would you one day take your kids (or potential kids if you don’t have any yet), on the same tour?
A: Not having kids (I guess my movies now represent my children- and how naughty they’ve been let me tell you…!), I’ve never had to contemplate this undertaking but one of the reasons I undertook this movie was also that I was amazed that my parents would actually bring all of us small kids barnstorming around Europe all tightly packed into a camper van for 6 weeks! Also, it seems crazy to me that I’ve never returned to Europe since that trip nearly 50 years ago! My wife, Maria, (who’s also the Producer of the movie as well as most of my past and future movies) and I really want to go to Europe someday soon and we look forward to screening our film in the many countries I visited in the film. This would, in a way, bring the whole journey of “European Tour ’73” full circle.
If you want to watch European Tour 73, it is currently playing on the virtual film festival circuit and will be playing in Canadian cinemas once the pandemic is under control, as always I have a review up on my site now!