Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Even though he’s fairly new to filmmaking, Ralph Cinque has earned praise and recognition at several prominent film festivals for his 2019 debut feature film, My Stretch of Texas Ground, to which Ralph also composed the musical score. Acclaimed film composer Brian Satterwhite composed the score to its sequel, His Stretch of Texas Ground, which was released just this year and has already seen the same success as its predecessor.
Andreea Boyer: Where are you from and what can you tell us about yourself?
Ralph Cinque: I was born in New York and went to high school and college in California, but I have lived most of my adult life in Texas, working in the health field as a chiropractor, but I always had an interest in creative writing and particularly script writing. My first script Vinland, about Leif Eriksson, the Viking who discovered America, is yet to be made into a film, but my second script, My Stretch of Texas Ground, which is essentially an anti-war film, the first anti-war film of the 21st century, was made and t did well, winning many awards, including at Mabig, for which I’m grateful, and now we have made the sequel to it, His Stretch of Texas Ground, which continues the saga of Sheriff Joe Haladin.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Ralph Cinque: No, I have only worked in my country, the United States.
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has motivated and inspired you?
Ralph Cinque: I wrote my first script, Vinland, because I had some experience sailing, and I was enthralled with the fact that Vikings reached North America in a boat with one sail. My second script, My Stretch of Texas Ground, I wrote because I was appalled with what my government did attacking third world countries after 9/11, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq, and I wanted to make a statement about it.
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Ralph Cinque: My career in filmmaking really didn’t start until 2017 when I hired a producer and director to begin the process of making My Stretch of Texas Ground. We shot it in 2018. Then, the sequel, His Stretch of Texas Ground, was shot in 2020. My third film, The Pro Bono Watchman was shot this year, 2021, and that too is entered in the Mabig Film Festival.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your latest movie?
Ralph Cinque: Since the movie at hand right now is His Stretch of Texas Ground, I’ll talk about it. Some of the actors reprised their roles from the first film, including Jeff Weber and Hailley Lauren. As for the story, the story was based on wanting to create a crisis that would involve Sheriff Joe Haladin and his daughter Becky, since the first film involved a crisis that affected him and his son Tommy. The film goes in a very different direction.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film your movie?
Ralph Cinque: His Stretch of Texas Ground was filmed mostly in Smithville, Texas, which is a very pretty town that is very film-friendly. It’s about 30 miles east of Austin. We also shot one scene in Austin and two scenes in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is west of Austin.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other films and work ?
Ralph Cinque: As I said, my first film My Stretch of Texas Ground is essentially an anti-war movie. It decries the killing of innocents in the U.S. post-9/11 wars. And it is streaming on Amazon Germany as Mein Stuck Texas. And my newest film, The Pro Bono Watchman is a character study about an old man who divides his time between sitting with his dying wife and being the monitor at visits between a six-year-old girl and her wayward father who has a violent past.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Ralph Cinque: Watching the actors bring my characters to life is the most thrilling experience for me, and I’ve learned something; that no matter what the writer puts in the script, it is the actor who defines the character, not the writer.
Andreea Boyer: Which moments on the film set have been the most difficult ones for you?
Ralph Cinque: Filmmaking is not for sissies because there are always things that go wrong on set. It seems like you spend half your time putting out fires, so to speak. So, I would have to say that dealing with difficult and unexpected problems has been the most trying thing. Dealing with the Screen Actors Guild on the first movie was also very stressful, which is why my subsequent films were made non-union, even though we paid union scale.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advice for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Ralph Cinque: I hate to sound crass, but my advice is to keep working on your script until it’s really good. I know that for me, once I have finished a script, that starts the second phase, which is editing, and I mean really honing the script. And I am mainly talking about dialogue, getting it really good. You want fresh, crisp, intriguing dialogue. Writing hackneyed lines is the worst mistake you can make, in my opinion. For me, having good dialogue is at least half my enjoyment of a movie.
Thank you, Mr. Cinque. We wish you continued success.
See more of Ralph Cinque’s works at his IMDb page.