Ryan Connolly is best known for his internet television shows Film Riot and Film State. Recently he has written and directed a compelling Horror short film, ‘Tell’, exploring themes of guilt and humanity’s morals. I won’t explain too deeply about why ‘Tell’ has been one of the highlights in my film viewing this year but it certainly will keep you up at night!
In this interview, Ryan discusses how he goes about creating films and sets to inspire any future film-makers that may not know where to start. A review for ‘Tell’ will be coming your way soon…
Hi Ryan, can you tell us the reason you entered the industry and any film-makers that have been an importance to the work you create?
Ryan: For me there was never anything else. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to tell stories; and at about 8 years old I figured out that I wanted to do it through filmmaking. My parents brought home our first video camera, and that was pretty much that… I have been influenced by a lot of filmmakers work, but like many others, Spielberg was one of the biggest inspirations to me. I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the theaters and having a eureka moment- watching that film helped me realize that I didn’t just want to be a filmmaker, I wanted to direct.
What was the inspiration behind your short film ‘Tell’?
There are some specific personal things that went into me writing the film. I use story telling as a way to express myself, and sometimes vent about things that bother me. I usually bury those themes pretty deep in my story, but they are there, driving everything. So I guess the simple answer is that I wanted to try and understand the mind of a person who not only will hurt another, but then try to hide their sin. I guess I wanted to find some compassion for them.
‘Tell’ is a prime example of low-budget professional film making, did you stumble on any problems with only $2000?
Of course. A micro-budget means that you have next to zero resources. I luckily had access to some basic gear, but no access to a crew. I ended up training family and friends to do the jobs I needed them to do on set. But of course there are some jobs that a family member or friend can’t do… Like focus pulling. That is a job which takes a lot of skill, so instead I had to be my own focus puller. This wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but when you are trying to operate a glide-cam and pull focus at the same time, it can get tough.
I found it far more frightening than many horror films displayed on the big screen. Is this the genre you feel most comfortable working in?
It is the genre I am most drawn to. I think I wrote my first horror script when I was 10 years old. I think I like comedy and horror for similar reasons, though each on the other side of the coin. Life is full of horrible things, and I feel that the horror/thriller genre is a great way to explore and understand these things (whereas comedy helps you endure them).
You are the host of the internet television show Film Riot which is essentially a comical film-making tutorial show. How did you get into presenting as well as film-making?
I’ve been pursuing filmmaking all my life. So that one had just been a gradual increase. The hosting I sort of fell into because I didn’t have anyone else to do it. I started Film Riot because I wanted to help people who aspired to be filmmakers, and to refine my craft as well. So far it has been great, and we have grown an amazing internet community around us as well. Our viewers are awesome and supportive people!
Can you give us your best tip for beginner film-makers starting out?
The best tip I can give is, never make excuses. Never say you don’t have time, or I’ll start next week… If you are really passionate about it, start now (write something, shoot something, find raw footage and edit it). Do something now to begin your journey in understanding the craft. I mean at one point I was using two VCRs connected together to do my editing, I always figured out a way to do it, I couldn’t help myself! If you have the passion, drive, and patience, you’ll make it.
Is there any projects you could give us an exclusive heads up about?
I can’t give any specifics, I like to keep my projects close to the chest. But I can say that I am developing 4 things right now, an Action, a Sci-fi/thriller, a Horror, and an Action/Thriller. I haven’t decided which will be my next project yet, but whatever it is, it will be a whole new level for us!
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @Ryan_connolly
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Thanks to Triune Films for providing us the images.