By Lauren M. Murphy
ABOVE: Tao Ruspoli; BELOW: Shawn Andrews and Ruspoli filming Fix
When documentary filmmaker Tao Ruspoli set out to make his first feature film he looked to his family for inspiration. What he came up with was Fix, a poignant yet darkly humorous movie based loosely on the true events of the day Ruspoli spent trying to keep his brother, Leo, out of jail.
The film—shot in documentary style—follows Milo (played by Ruspoli) and Bella (played by Ruspoli’s real-life wife, Olivia Wilde) as they race across LA trying to raise the $5,000 they need to get lovable addict Leo (played effortlessly by Shawn Andrews) into rehab as a substitute for going to prison for three years. Hitting up every neighborhood from Calabasas and Beverly Hills to East LA and Watts, the trio encounters a variety of colorful characters, each with his or her own view on Leo’s larger-than-life personality and reasons why they can’t give any money toward the cause. “Most of it is fictionalized but based on and inspired by people I know and my experiences with the city of Los Angeles, which I think of as one of the main characters of the movie,” says Ruspoli. “This is an amazing city because it has all these different worlds, and a lot of people don’t cross from one to another. It’s really a microcosm of our entire world.”
A man of the world himself, Ruspoli—the son of Italian aristocrat and actor Dado Ruspoli and American actress Debra Berger—was born in Bangkok and raised in Rome and LA. Now living in Venice he says his upbringing and travels have greatly influenced him as a filmmaker. “I think it’s our job as filmmakers to take you on a journey and show you new worlds you haven’t seen before, and I’ve been very blessed to have grown up in a number of different worlds,” he says. “It’s my job to interpret it through the lens and show people different perspectives. We can often get stuck in a routine of seeing things, and I think a good film can jolt us out of that and in the process teach us to love one another.”
Currently Ruspoli is working on a documentary film called Being in the World, in which he visits one of his professors from UC Berkeley (Ruspoli graduated from the school with a degree in philosophy) to explore his ideas on what it means to be human, have certain skills and create a community through those skills. Though he’s focused on documentaries right now, Ruspoli is eagerly searching for his next narrative project as well. “Both narratives and documentaries are attempts at exploring how human beings relate to each other and our world,” he says. “I think if I can do that in a way that entertains people and teaches them to open their eyes to a new way of looking at the world, then I feel like I’ve succeeded in doing something valuable.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA HAYES AND CLARK HSIAO (PORTRAIT)