Directed by Emma Baiada
92 year-old Ruth Young, clad in newspaper shin guards and a paisley headscarf, begins to contemplate her inevitable death, but she has no intention of slowing down. Accompanied by her jolly 53 year-old companion David Maitz, Ruth mows her lawn with a bread knife, visits The Philadelphia Mint to learn how pennies are made, and makes a heartwarming pilgrimage to her family’s cemetery plot where she and Dave will eventually rest.
As a child, I was obsessed with sea turtles. I received turtle statuettes, turtle stuffed animals, turtle earrings, turtle paper weights, and so on for the first 12 years of my life. There was one person, however, who would give me very different gifts. The two times I saw her per year, my Aunt Ruth would unpack shiny collector’s coins and hand them over with pride. At the time, I didn’t know much about her life. My mom had told me stories about the pile of newspapers in her home, and I always wondered about the ever-present Band-Aids she wore on her fingers. As I began to grow older, my mom would tell me about her friend Dave, who took her to the doctor’s and out to eat in Chinatown.
Fast forward to 2016 at my Gram’s 80th birthday party. It was the first time my partner, Nicolas Snyder, was meeting most of my family on my mom’s side. Despite the wide array of interesting folks at the party, two people stuck out to him the most—Aunt Ruth and her friend Dave, an unlikely pair. Dave showed us charming photos of Ruth on his camera phone, its background decorated with a picture of Britney Spears from 1996. The deal was sealed: “We have to make a film about them!” Over the next three years, we made five trips from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to film with Ruth and Dave.
The film started from a sense of curiosity and appreciation for these two characters who, while incredible on their own, were even more compelling together. I was drawn to their staunch individualism and their uncompromising devotion to being themselves. At the beginning, we didn’t know the nature of their relationship. We even thought it was possible that they might be romantic, but we quickly learned about Dave’s mother’s passing, and how Ruth, never married and with no children of her own, had quickly assumed the position of his matriarch. Equally fascinating was the process of discovery that this film would deal with Ruth’s preparations for her eventual death. It was a special honor to witness and capture her pondering this one inevitability that we will all face. It was especially meaningful as it allowed me to better understand my own family history and the prior generations that have shaped me.
In today’s divided world, I wanted to tell a story about the power of connection. I hope this film inspires a sense of hope and optimism for those who watch it. In the words of Ruth, “Everybody should have a friend, at least. Don’t you think?”
— Emma Baiada
Director and Producer | Emma Baiada
Cinematography | Nicolas Snyder
Editor | Emma Baiada
Original Music | Nicolas Snyder
Post Sound Mix|Jordan Meltzer
Color Grade | Caitlin Diaz
Additional Camera | Emma Baiada & Jason Druss
VFX | Rocket Farm
About the Team
EMMA BAIADA (Director / Producer / Editor)
Emma Baiada is an observational filmmaker who is interested in the stories of those who exist on the fringes of mainstream society. She is currently directing, producing, and editing her first feature film, “Song of Salt,” about the isolated mining town of Trona, California. Prior to this, she worked as a Producer at Academy Award-winning Tremolo Productions, where her credits include Showtime’s Grammy-nominated “Shangri-La” (Co-Producer), Focus Features’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Associate Producer), and Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious,” “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead,” and “Abstract: The Art of Design” (Associate Producer). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Cinema Studies, and Consumer Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She hails from Moorestown, New Jersey and currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
NICOLAS SNYDER (Cinematographer / Composer)
Nicolas Snyder is a composer, cinematographer, and sound artist living in Los Angeles, California. He was born and raised in rural Western Pennsylvania and studied short fiction at the
University of Pittsburgh. He spent the rest of his 20s living as a professional songwriter, recording and touring in various indie groups. In 2014 he moved to Los Angeles to pursue music
composition for film and television. His television credits include Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious,” Showtime’s “Shangri-La” and FX’s “Cake. His commercial credits include FedEx’s “Dreams” directed by Michel Gondry and General Electric’s “A Snowball’s Chance in Hell,” among many others. He frequently works in the realms of experimental animation, doing both sound design and scoring. He is an avid field recordist and uses his recordings compositionally to reach beyond traditional forms of song structure and tonality, focusing on the transportive nature of sound. In 2016 he began working closely with his partner, Emma Baiada, in the field of observational documentary. He most recently shot their short film “Old Young” and is currently working on their first feature film, “Song of Salt.”