"A Doctor's Job" aired as part of the 2013 edition of "Fine Cut." A summary: Doctor Ramon Moran drives a taxicab in order to financially support his mental ill mother. When driving the taxi, Ramon becomes involved in a crime that tests his pride and work ethics.
Here, we speak with Julio O. Ramos, the director of "A Doctor's Job," about the biographical nature of the film, shooting in Peru, and his next project.
Your film is about a Peruvian physician who moonlights as a taxicab driver. What inspired you to tell this story?
I grew up in Peru in the '80s when the economy was terrible. It was very common to see doctors, teachers, lawyers, driving taxicabs. As matter of fact, my father, who at the time had just graduated from medical school, had to drive his Volkswagen Beetle in order to keep my brother and me in a private school.
This film was shot in Lima. How does shooting a film in Peru compare to shooting a film in the United States? Are there different advantages or challenges?
Shooting a film in Peru is ridiculously cheaper than L.A. It allowed me to work with well-established actors, shoot in a national hospital and in the crazy streets of Lima, and work with professionals with way more experience than I had. Just to give a specific example of how much cheaper it is down there, there's a crazy two-minute scene in a moving vehicle with four characters. We had to get a camera car with its technicians and a motor police officer to clear the traffic. That cost us a fifth of what it would have cost me had I shot this in L.A.
You recently completed the MFA Directing program at UCLA. What was your greatest learning experience while studying there?
If I had to pick. I'd say the whole process of making my two films in Peru. I appreciate that UCLA doesn't force either the studio system or independent filmmaking. They truly care about guiding us to find our voices as a storyteller. They supported me when I decided to make my films at home. Not once they suggested to cheat East L.A. for Latin America, or choose my actors from agencies' headshots.
You've been lucky enough to bring this film to many festivals. What has been your best festival experience so far?
This is very hard to pick, too. Everywhere I went, I've been treated nicely and met tons of wonderful people. But the one moment that will be stuck in my head forever comes from Telluride 2011, when "A Doctor's Job" had been hand-picked and introduced by Godfrey Reggio in a sold-out theater. I'd never been so nervous. I was happy to see that the audience connected with the film. I even recall Alexander Payne sitting somewhere in the theater.
Who do you consider some of your greatest artistic inspirations?
My artistic inspirations vary constantly. Usually among Gonzalez Iñárritu, The Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke and Andrea Arnold. I'm always inspired by gritty drama, crime and clandestinity.
What's next for you?
I'm currently developing my first feature film. It's the tale of an illegal immigrant in the U.S. and it explores the strained relationships between fathers and children, and the impact the distance, carved as a result of chasing the American dream generation after generation.