This April, the Central Valley Community Foundation announced The Big Tell: Undiscovered Stories from the Central Valley presented by Bank of America. For this first annual film contest, we received over 80 applications from talented filmmakers from across the Central Valley, each with unique ideas for 3-5 minute mini documentaries about life in the Valley. After careful deliberation, 10 winners were selected to each receive grants of $5,000 to produce these short films. The production of these films will culminate in a special red carpet screening at Fresno’s Warnor’s Theatre on October 20, 2017.

In the weeks leading up to the Big Tell Showcase, we invite you to get to know our winning filmmakers and the inspiration behind their films. Keep reading to meet Troy Ruff, a local filmmaker working with 59DaysOfCode to document two teams participating in a competition that brings the Valley’s tech community together!

Although he was born in Germany, Troy Ruff considers the Central Valley his home. Over the past 27 years he has resided here, Troy’s found plenty to love about the Valley, from having his family close by, to the affordable cost of living. As a filmmaker, Troy loves living in Fresno because of how film-friendly the city is, as well as how close it is to a variety of physical shooting locations. In a matter of a few hours, Troy and his crew can be filming on the ocean or in the mountains, and acquiring permits for shooting at various locations is a simpler process in the Central Valley than in other areas.

Troy’s work in film began 10 years ago with a dream and a passion. He began as a camera man intrigued by lighting and cinematography. As time went on, this self-taught filmmaker discovered his favorite aspect of filmmaking was directing actors. Today, Troy has his own production company, Ruff Productions, has created or been a part of the production of 20 films, and has served as a director, producer, editor, and visual and special effects artist. Troy has created a wide variety of works, from commercials, documentaries, and non-profit promotional videos, to full cinematic works, some of which have had home video releases. One of Troy’s most recent works was on a cinematic film titled The Reckoning, which tells the story of a young girl in a post-apocalyptic universe looking to restore order in an unjust society.

A promotional poster for The Reckoning. (Photo Credit: Ruff Productions)

Troy Ruff (middle right) directs the team during filming for The Reckoning. (Photo Credit: Ruff Productions)

Troy’s love and passion for filmmaking comes from an intense appreciation of the medium and a desire to impact audiences around the world through storytelling. It’s not surprising, then, that Troy was chosen by a local non-profit to produce a film for The Big Tell. Working with 59DaysOfCode, a Fresno-based non-profit centered on the Valley’s technology community, the film will follow the journey of two teams participating in #thecompetition. This event challenges the local “tech nerds” to develop new technologies. The film will document how technology has changed the lives of the two participating teams, as well as how they plan to change the world with their new creation in what 59DaysOfCode is promising as, “The single greatest flexing of super-nerd strength this side of Silicon Valley.”

“Winning this grant validates the idea that technology is all we say it is. 59DaysOfCode is changing communities across the Valley by teaching coding and business skills, by hosting competitions, and by enabling entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and students to network and test their mettle. It is a powerful thing we are doing here, and we are excited to show the world just how much more we have planned.”- 59DaysOfCode, on what The Big Tell means to them

59DaysOfCode and Troy Ruff hope that their film will demonstrate the power of technology to solve some of the Valley’s biggest problems, as well as showcase some of the amazing local talent in the Valley’s tech community. “These kids have [hearts] to create change through tech and [can use] their skills to achieve solutions for our water issues and so much more,” Troy remarked. “I’m hoping that this short [film] will help shine a light on the incredible young people we have here in the Central Valley.” 59DaysOfCode added that technology is a fantastic tool for changing lives and communities, saying, “We hope the audience will see the opportunities that technology provides to anyone who chooses to use it.”

The Central Valley Community Foundation, in partnership with CMAC, wishes to congratulate 59DaysOfCode and Troy Ruff for being chosen as a winner for The Big Tell, presented by Bank of America! Make sure to mark your calendars for The Big Tell Showcase on October 20, 2017 and come out and support these local creators!

For more information about Troy Ruff, please visit his website, or connect with him on Facebook.

For more information about 59DaysOfCode, please visit their website, or connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.