I’ve recently published an in-depth interview with indie film making genius Shane Ryan which was published on the main page. He was so generous in responding to my questions that I was unable to include all of his answers in the interview, yet his responses were so fascinating, neither could I justify keeping them locked away on my computer. So I decided the next best thing to was to publish all the raw data of his answers as he sent them, before I rearranged them to fit my interview. This, then, is the totality of his answers to me:
Can you tell me a little about yourself? How old are you? Where are you from? Where do you live?
I was born in Canoga Park, California, and then moved to Lompoc when I was 7 and traveled back and forth between Los Angeles and Lompoc after that. And still pretty much do that though I primarily reside in Lompoc because I can’t stand LA, and I only go to LA when I have to. And let’s say, I’m way too old to play high school as I have friends younger than me with kids out of high school but people look at me like I’m crazy when I apply for roles any older than college age. So, I’m always in limbo.
What’s something about you that would surprise me to learn?
I don’t like gore and am not big into horror. But I always find it surprising that people find that surprising as most of my films have very little blood and are far more arthouse drama based than horror. Also that I’m straight-edged, meaning I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs, as most people think I’m on drugs. And it’s not because I’m a former addict nor for religious beliefs, I just think it’s not worthy to put into my body. Plus, I’m already a bit crazy without that shit.
What do you do in your down time? What’s a typical evening like for you? What’s a boring weekend like for you?
Movies. Movies. Movies.
I guess I also enjoy the gym, espresso, walking around and exploring, going to the book store, music store, video store (whenever I’m lucky enough to find any of those 3 things), and that’s about it. Oh, and movies. Nothing really changes. Yet everything is always changing it seems.
Can you tell me how you got interested in filmmaking? What, specifically, do you like most about filmmaking? What’s the biggest pain about it?
My dad took me to the movies when I was 3 years old, and after I had a panic attack during one of the trailers (it was for a John Carpenter film) he brought me back in once I was through crying and said I didn’t speak a word, I was just glued to the screen in awe for the entire film (the film was Dark Crystal, which I have no memory of watching). After that he began showing me how to edit at the age of 5 and by age 7 I was working the camera and making my own films. I was inspired by ninja/martial arts films, and then when I saw Bloodsport and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s spinning jump kick, I knew exactly what I wanted; to be just like Van Damme. I idolized the living fuck out of him and probably have the world’s biggest collection of JCVD merchandise. The problem was though, that I sucked at lots of stuff. I did bad in gymnastics, karate (not bad, but surely not good), and became more focused on filmmaking than acting and sports. So, I could never really be like him like I had wanted. I wanted to be an actor and a writer, but had no clue how to get acting roles nor get my scripts produced, so I kept making my own films til I was about 16, then gave up to focus on writing and body-building. For a short time I wanted to then become a body builder but refused to take any supplements or drugs, so I never got that big no matter what various diets or exercise routines I tried (though I did get in great shape and was pretty strong for my size), so eventually I said fuck it and started taking some community college film classes at age 19. Then I saw Tim Roth’s directorial debut The War Zone, and right then and there something changed in me forever; I had an emotional breakdown from the intense subject matter in the film, and I was floored by this discovery, that a film could move you this intensely, violently, viscerally. I wanted to make films like that (it dealt with child abuse, rape, incest and murder). So I jumped right back into filmmaking, by trying to mimic the films I had just seen, but in my own way.
That would be what I like most about filmmaking; being able to touch people in a life-changing sort of way – whether it be entertainment in a new way, nostalgia, coming of age, or something that is a fear or manifesting issue that they haven’t yet confronted. The biggest pain about filmmaking would be relying on other people. This isn’t like painting a picture, nor writing as script. When it’s something like that, all you need is you. When it’s a film, it requires other people, money (which I’ve never had), scheduling, cooperation, equipment, transportation, and a never-ending list of shit. It sucks, big time, when you don’t have any of these resources.
What sort of films do you like to watch yourself? Anything good you’ve seen recently?
I love a lot of types, though not much new stuff. I grew up on action films, so I love old school action like Stallone and Van Damme. I’m not into CGI-driven movies and comic book stuff at all, which makes choices very limited these days. The John Wick films are brilliant (when the CGI enhances the psychical stunts and work, that I can get into if done right, like in those films). Hostiles, the recent western film, was amazing. Lamb, an indie film about a middle aged man having a crisis and kidnapping a little girl for reasons we’re not sure til the end, was fucking incredible. The Florida Project and I, Tonya were really good. Gimmie Shleter; Vanessa Hudgens, wow, underrated. Heaven Knows What is way up there with Lamb – just wow, fucking wow. Detroit was another great one, plus Mother!, You Were Never Really Here, and The American, from a few years ago, with George Clooney. And Bullet to the Head, with Stallone. I really prefer films from the 70s overall, 80s/90s action, foreign (mainly French, Korean and Mexican), and arthouse films. Rocky and Taxi Driver are my all time favorite movies.
How would you describe your style as a director? Do you come in with structured scenes and story boards or is it mostly organic and improv?
It just depends on the project. My Japanese film, Oni-gokko/Tag, had a complete shot list, script (plus all the translations), as did my short film from 2001, Isolation, along with storyboards (that was my most complex and structured shoot). But My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous, The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing, and The Owl in Echo Park merely had very brief one line descriptions of the scenes. Sometimes not even descriptions, just the location that we would be shooting at and the actors who needed to be there. And the Amateur Porn Star Killer films had nothing but an idea and a brief discussion of the films with each actress before filming. I think I most prefer when I have scenes descriptions roughly written out, a story in place, but I just let it flow. But it really depends on the film, the characters, etc. Does it need to be lit a certain way or not? Do certain things need to be said? Can the camera be handheld or should it be a set up shot? And so on. And how do I see the overall film coming together? The editing? The score?
What can you tell us about your writing process? Is there a lot of beer and weed involved or is it a more controlled process?
Well, I’m straight-edged, so none of that, but I am an espresso addict, so I usually have that in my jittery hand. Tag was written in just a few hours, Isolation took way longer but I can’t remember how long, that was so many years ago. Usually since there’s no script it’s about working out the scenes, locations and characters. So, I spend lots of time driving around with a camera and a notebook, taking pictures/videos of places I’d like to shoot, and writing down ideas based on the locations. Other times it’s watching movies or researching documentaries, writing down editing techniques, shots, styles, or if it’s a documentary on a subject, like serial killers, taking notes on things like that.
You’ve made a ton of films! Do you have an idea how many? What’s your personal favourite?
Counting all the ones I did as a kid, shorts and features and music videos, plus how many I acted in as well as produced and/or directed? Man, I dunno, over 100, easily.
I think my favorite completed film would be My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous (for features) and Guerrilla (for shorts) just because those 2 took the most out of me, the most time and energy. But I also think they’re the best. I’m currently working on films, though, that might take those places, as they are even much bigger and painstaking processes. Some of it just depends on where I am in life, and why and how I made the film, and the memories I might have made while doing so.
What’s the least you’ve ever spent on a film? The most? What’s the longest shoot you’ve had? The shortest?
The least would literally be nothing, I suppose. Amateur Porn Star Killer 3 cost 10 bucks. I think 8 bucks for 2 tapes and 2 bucks for gas. And then I already owned the camera and editing equipment (which I had for free). But in a way The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing cost nothing because it was footage from another feature and I had already shot it and paid to license the music. The most, as far as completed films, would be Guerrilla, which cost about a grand, and it was only 13 min, versus My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous was 90 min. and cost 300 bucks to produce, and 4 days to shoot, over a 5 day period. Guerrilla took about 20+ days to shoot over 6 months.
What’s the best way to film on a tight budget?
Just wing it (usually). And keep your crew minimal to avoid attention. If you have a script, it’s impossible to shoot what you’ve written on 50 dollar budgets, unless you do it all in one room/location, and don’t make noise to cause attention to your location from authorities, passersby, etc, and don’t mind if noise outside your location is a constant interruption – unless you’re in the middle of nowhere with no distracting sounds around you. If you come up with a character(s) that you’d like to shoot, and you wing it, then it’s more like making a documentary, and you can make a documentary with a minimal crew because you pretty much have to, to keep it real and to let your subjects do what they’re naturally going to do without the distraction of a crew and equipment. So, just treat your film like a documentary; pick your subjects (i.e., I want to make a film about a girl who kills her neighbor – My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous), pick some locations, and just describe the characters to your actors, and then follow them, and see what they do. You might need a beginning, middle, and end, but everything else, the other 90% of the movie, you just let it happen.
How do you find / recruit your actors?
Many different ways, it depends on the film. God Got Ill/Paper Kids; I would see the lead girl, Riley, and her mom, Amber, in Starbucks every night. They always were vulgarly bickering with each other, and I found them interesting to watch. Somehow we ended up talking, and then I asked them if I could mold a film around them. The rest of the cast I found off Craigslist, and through friends. With My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous; I cast Katie as Alyssa through a casting company. She was preparing with her acting coach’s daughter, Demi (whom I also loved), so I cast Demi, as well. Then I found Teona and Alex through casting websites. But Katie’s brother Joseph, actually ended up playing her brother, Joseph. And then Kaliya came from Demi’s mom as well. With The Owl in Echo Park; I had been talking to Kevin Gage for years about working on a project together, and then suddenly it happened, with Kevin in the lead, and I cast the other 25 people or so within a day or two off casting sites and Craigslist. With Amateur Porn Star Killer; I used a friend, and part-time fuck buddy, so I knew there wouldn’t be an issue with doing an explicit sexual film together. I knew she was much better with improv than scripted lines, so I took a chance that it could work. For Ted Bundy Had a Son; well, I spent years looking for a lead through casting companies, friends, recommendations, on the street, any way that I could. Looked at over 2,000 actresses. Offered the part to several. John Turturro’s niece was actually my top choice. She came in to audition and I loved her, and offered her the part, but she turned it down due to the nudity, as did hundreds of girls (even though it was laid out in the casting notice very clearly, and again confirmed with them before they were ever asked to even interview or audition). Which was funny that so many came in to read, and applied for it, as again it stated numerous times on the notices exactly what the content was. I tried to cast the damn thing in multiple different states as I was getting flown over to Maryland by an investor, so we tried Philadelphia and NYC (we cast one awesome girl, Emily, who actually shot some scenes, but she didn’t match the description for the lead, so I still needed that). Then I got flown to Europe for a festival and they even tried to help me cast over in Switzerland, then I tried Paris and London. Finally after 4 fucking years I gave up. Then I started working on some films with a family friend of mine, Lilith Singson. We’re doing multiple films together now. She was only 16, now 17, and couldn’t do the nudity, but she fits the part perfectly, so after traveling the world for 4 years trying to cast this damn thing I finally said fuck it, I’ll give it to her and figure out how to get around the nudity. So, casting can be as simple as calling a friend and asking “do you want to make a film called Amateur Porn Star Killer tonight?” Or as hard as spending all of your time, money, sanity, and so on, traveling the entire fucking planet for nearly half a decade, only to use yet another friend back home.
What would you say to someone interested in following in your footsteps? Do you have any concrete advice about financing, distribution, marketing?
Don’t do it, man. Find something stable. Then maybe do this as a hobby. Times are getting so ridiculously bad for indie cinema as far as being able to make any money from it. And censorship is cracking down so terribly much (I was just told by a distributor that not only can I not include nudity if I want to get on Amazon Prime, but I can’t even blur out the nudity – like one would do for a regular fucking censored TV episode or news clip – as they will even reject that as well). Plus they just chopped out 60% of pay for indie films, as if we weren’t already getting paid nothing. If anything, do something artistic that does not take up too much of your money, or the dependency of other people, like writing, or painting. Or something where you don’t have to worry about the responsibility of anyone but yourself, like acting. Filmmaking these days is just, ugh. Can’t even get into it, it’s so aggravating. But if you feel it’s in your blood, and it’s all you know, then so be it, do it.
The subject matter is frequently disturbing and controversial. How would you respond to accusations that your films are misogynistic?
Everybody’s got an opinion, but look at it this way; more than 90% of my films give female actors the lead roles. I often give them co-writing and co-producing credit and consider them my team, my other half in the making of the films. Sometimes I even put, “a film by…their name and mine.” And many are about strong women. And/or the victimization of women by men, and/or by society. In The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing, the film shows blow by blow what this girl goes through after society spits her out. The film is her film, her story. In My Name is ‘A’ by anonymous, it’s about a young girl who murders an even younger girl. The men barely play a part in the film. Sure, there’s a rape scene, but the rape is never even shown, just the before and after. The movie is about the girls, not boys, not men. In Tag/Oni-gokko, there are no men at all in the film, just a girl and her dead sister, with some major sibling rivalry. In American Virus, Kathryn Eastwood’s character clearly runs the show. And even in Amateur Porn Star Killer, the film spends the entire time on the victim, the girl, only showing the male actor (myself) for brief moments. And it also shows a much more real interpretation of rape. Rape is not usually with a knife to your throat and a random thug in the alley attacking you. It’s often by manipulation, by somebody you know, or somebody at a party that you just met but feel safe enough with. And that’s what I wanted to show, was rape, the way that it is more likely to happen. And if one still doesn’t buy these excuses; just hold up a mirror. My films are merely that, a mirror held in front of the world, showcasing what I see around me. Rarely does Hollywood ever do that.
Your themes are often brutal. How hard is it to film a rape scene? The atmosphere on the set must be depressing af. What’s the mood like on set filming tough scenes.
It’s usually pretty relaxed, actually. Until it happens, and then afterwards there can be laughter, calming back down. The only big time I remember there being an issue was on Amateur Porn Star Killer. I had gotten so stirred up from being in character for so long (as it was just 2 long takes, like an hour long each), so between takes I needed to take a break, whereas Michiko, the actress, had wanted to keep going. I barely remember this, and she recited it to me later, as I thought it was like a minute break but apparently it was 30-60 minutes, and I tried to calm myself back down by watching cartoons. She wanted to stay in character, so I guess she just sat quietly in the corner until I could collect myself to continue shooting.
Do you ever freak yourself out while filming?
Well, there was that, that was probably the biggest freakout. There’s been times when I’ve taken and/or received real punches, slaps, fighting, just for the sake of realism, and have sometimes gotten pretty knocked around, and/or knocked around other people pretty intensely, so that can be a bit freaky. And lots of times I’ll approach homeless people and other shady people on the street and see if I can get them on camera, and sometimes that can be a bit intense, not knowing how they’re going to react.
Another aspect of many of your films is sparse use of dialogue and even, like Guerrilla, no dialogue at all. What’s the reason behind this choice?
Two reasons. One, is that sound is a bitch. It’s one of the hardest things to do, and the most likely to make your film reek of amateur-hour (which my films still do, but it could be so much worse). People will forgive bad picture, but not bad sound. So, I learned early on, that you are more likely to get away with bad sounds if it feels like a documentary, home video type thing, like the Amateur Porn Star Killer films, which is why they have the most dialogue. In the other movies that doesn’t work, so I tend to wipe away all of the sound and replace it with music. Which brings me to the second reason, that is I grew up on silent films, as my dad has restored most of the great silent films ever made. Anything from the original The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, to Charlie Chaplin. He would take me to a lot of these films when showcased in theatres, and he was also friends with the grandson of Chaplin’s cinematographer, I believe his name was David. So David would have all of these Chaplin parties that my dad would take me to, where they would always be showing prints of these Chaplin films. And as you know silent films simply have music scores to them, no other sound (my dad when even take me to theatrical screenings where the music was done as a live orchestra set up in front/below of the big screen). So, I think growing up on that influenced me heavily. Also, my first paid film jobs were helping my dad restore these films myself. The first thing I did was work as the music editor on Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse. I then helped restore titles on another silent film, and then I composed music for some silent short films for the box set Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941.
I love how well you use music on your films. Where do you get the music and what’s the secret to using it well?
Because of my background, I think music to visuals is just in my blood. Although I’m rarely fully satisfied with it, because I can only use what I find and can afford the rights to. I can’t usually use or have composed exactly what I want. For Guerrilla I just searched royalty free sites over the course of a year, going through thousands of clips until I found close enough to what I wanted. With The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing I was on a deadline, so I had to rush to pick stuff from sites like those. With My Name is ‘A’ it was a combo of several different friends lending me music, the girl in the movie singing, and then whatever free music I could find as I had no budget to purchase anything for that one. But basically it’s just using the cheapest music that I can find and be able to get the rights to, that best fits what I’m looking for. I usually have to find the music first, though, almost always, as I edit to the music. I have yet to edit something without a score, and then have someone score the film.
Amateur Porn Star Killer [Disclaimer, I was only able to get a copy of the first]
Would you agree that this is your most famous film? Is there a reason, other than the success, that made you want to make three?
Yes, I’d say it is the most popular and successful. Of course I made the film on a fluke, and it was the easiest film I ever made, and only cost me 45 bucks to produce. As far as making more, well, it took me 20 years to get to the point that I wanted to be (having a feature distributed), and it took 3 years to get this particular film distributed. So when the distributor green-lighted a second, I was like, “fuck it. I’ll do it again and have another film out in 6 months instead spending another 10-20 years, sure.” And then I did it again right after that, but after the third I felt very done with it. I thought the second really helped push the story of the character forward, but the third I felt was just more recycling the original idea. But now 14 years after the original was shot, I’m doing a brand new trilogy of the Brandon character, for the Ted Bundy Had a Son trilogy. I think exploring this idea in a new decade, with new technology, especially since technology (VHS) played a huge role in his existence, can be quite interesting. So now, a big part of me is doing it because I want to, not just because the original was a hit. And I’ve gotten to make so many other films between the trilogies, with more films going on now even during the making of the new trilogy, that I don’t feel stuck in that world like I did back when I did APSK 2 and 3 and the unfinished 3D parody, back to back to back.
There is nudity and even strong sexual content in these films. Is all of the sex simulated, or are there some hard core moments?
Most of it is real. The stuff with the blonde girl in the first was simulated, but the oral sex with the main character was real, even though highly concealed. And the second and third films feature multiple hardcore moments. Albeit very little of the films running times, maybe just 5-10 minutes max between both films, but it’s real. I tried to push the boundaries further with each film, but I think it peaked in the second, when it showed penetration to the girl after Brandon kills her.
How awkward and difficult was it for you as a director to both shoot and star in these movies?
Extremely awkward and difficult beforehand, but relatively easy once filming has started. Pitching the idea is unbearable, so uncomfortable, but then while doing it, because they were all pretty much shot in real time, you just slip into that character and role with it. Playing the character is highly uncomfortable, but as long as you have the understanding with the actress, when those scenes come, it’s just kind of there, over and done. It’s almost like being on drugs I’d say, or being drunk. It just sort of happens, and afterwards you’re like, “shit, what did we just do? Did we really do that? Hmm, well that was interesting.” As I mentioned with the first APSK I had to take a break during switching tapes because it was pretty uncomfortable playing that role. But it wasn’t really awkward since Michiko and I had been sexual partners in real life. And with Kai in the second movie, well we also had ended up having a one-night stand before shooting, so it wasn’t that bad either, accept for the degrading and violent parts of it, where I’m spitting on her and choking her and stuff. So in between tapes for that it was more just reassuring that she was indeed okay. With the third film I didn’t know any of the girls, but there was also not really any breaks there, either. It was just really uncomfortable in the beginning explaining it, and making sure everybody “got it”, and then again just trying to roll with it. The hardest was the main girl in APSK3 as I am so damn degrading to her character, I really felt bad, and at moments wasn’t sure if she was going to just get fed up. But Regan was super cool, though afterwards when we were deciding if we should do another take (it was an hour long take) we both were like, “no, I think we’re good.” Going through it again didn’t feel like a good time, and I couldn’t see it being any better or different enough to warrant doing it all over.
The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing
Again, I loved your use of music in this film. Where did you find it? How do you choose as specific song for a specific scene?
I think all of that music was from this royalty-free licensing company, Neosounds, aside from one song, which actually had a man singing, was a friend. This one I had to scramble to find music because this film was originally a much longer film called Warning!!! Pedophile Released, and we began production in like April and were set to open theatrically in October, so I really had to quickly shoot it, edit and find the music it, and complete it in just 6 months. So, I’m glad you like the music, but I definitely am not happy with a lot of it. The first song was my favorite, as I actually found it before shooting, and designed her reaction to the rape scene based on the beginning of the music. But the movie as W!!!PR got so much shit because of the title, and got my films blacklisted by many of our major buyers when their credit card companies running their purchases decided to control them and crack down on content, so I re-imagined the whole film, took out more than half of the characters, the pedophile character and therefore any character connected/referenced to him, and ended up chopping out like 45 min to turn it into The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing. But then of course I couldn’t get it released due to rights issues. But anyway, I can’t remember how I chose each clip, I was just going with the flow of what I found. In this case I actually didn’t want much music. I had just been to the theatre like 4-5 times to see Wendy and Lucy, which I thought was just genius (I would never watch a movie more than once in the theatre, so that’s how much I loved it), and I wanted it more like that film, where the homeless girl is just basically walking around town, going what she goes through, with just the natural sounds. But again with sound, most of the sound was just bad, either form people nearby talking when it look like it should be isolated, and/or because it’s so damn windy where we shot, that I didn’t have time to put together and learn sound design, so I just had to drop a lot of the sound and find music that I felt fit it.
Why thank Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Steven Soderbergh, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and Kevin Bacon in the end credits?
Those were just some of the biggest influences for the project. Michelle Williams from Wendy and Lucy (I also thanked the director of that), Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone (also the director), Kevin Bacon’s performance in The Woodsman, which I tried to contribute towards the original character in the W!!!PR version. Ellen Page I just find to be so amazing and inspirational with her film and role choices (except Flatliners), as with Kristen Stewart (aside from Twilight); for Hollywood actresses, they do some of the best films, and take some of the most risks and chances with their roles, as they always take on the independent route as much as possible. And Soderbergh, with his constant need to push the envelope and experiment with an indie mind outside of the Hollywood system while still being in it and able to make lots of money.
My own personal question: What happened to her baby?
You’re actually the first person who’s ever asked that. Thank you for noticing. And who knows. Miscarriage? Gave it up for adoption? Lost it to the system? Maybe even killed it thinking it would be better off than her if she did?
My Name Is A by Anonymous
What was it about the true crime story that made you want to make a film of it?
Multiple things. The need to understand why these things happen, even though you probably never will. Also, I’ve dealt with self-abuse most of my life, and when I saw that the real girl had the exact same scars on her arm, even the same arm in the exact same pattern and places as I do, it just hit home. As a self abuser I know it’s highly unlikely that a self abuser would commit a crime like that. And if they were to, it would be spontaneous, in a fury of rage or in a form of something randomly unleashed, it could never be cold and calculated as the media and authorities described. I felt like they were just spitting nothing but lies at us, making up their minds about something they heard about 5 minutes ago, and having no problem ruining the life of a child over. They hadn’t given any time to consider if the child was mentally ill, or had been coerced into a confession and possibly innocent, they just all said “here’s the witch, burn her.” It felt like medieval times to me, and it made me so disgusted. I also was going through my own issues in the media at the same time, and the exact same thing was being done to me. A film I was about to make was being taken way out of context, and the mainstream news got a hold of it and completely changed and manipulated everything that I was doing, causing me to receive endless death threats and hate mail every couple minutes, so much so that I almost wanted to kill myself because I thought my life was over, and I hadn’t even done anything wrong, and I was just so angry that the news can just pick a person at random and decide to destroy them because they feel like it and need the ratings. All the while they make themselves look like reporters just doing their jobs when really they’re the scum of the earth, profiting off of ruining lives. So, I wanted to spend time actually exploring this girl, or the idea of a girl like this, and trying to actually understand it, instead of letting it be made up in the 30-second mind and attention span of the media and its brainless audience.
Tbh, even as a fan of cinema that pushes boundaries, I was turned off by the extended rape scene between the father and daughter. What do you think of someone like me, who has a hard time with some of your scenes? Does it make me a wimp?
If it didn’t give you a hard time, then either you’ve got some issues and/or rape fantasies you need to deal with, or I just didn’t do my job as a filmmaker. but considering that you never even see the rape occur, I’d hope that means that I did my job in making it disturbing, as it should be. If you recall, the scene building up to it is one long shot, as he coerces and kisses his daughter while she begins breaking down bit by bit until finally he begins to force himself on her as she starts screaming repulsively, and then the scene ends before he actually does anything sexual to her. He’s still in the middle of trying and forcing his way under her skirt when it fades out. Then the scene fades back in later and she’s curled up in the fetal position, and it’s obviously over, and then the dad begins mocking her and memories of her mother. So, the fact that you never see the rape, and never even see nudity during the scenes (as she’s clothed in the first scene beforehand, and afterwards, though naked, is positioned in a way where nothing is being revealed), if that comes off as extreme and boundary pushing, then I think the job was accomplished. And all due to the dialogue, acting, music, editing, cinematography, and emotion, as no rape is ever actually shown.
I realise you have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment. What’s your main project at the moment? When will it be made available?
I think I got several equally main projects. The Owl in Echo Park, as I’ve been editing it forever, and need to finish the damn thing already. Ted Bundy Had a Son (and now it’s going to be a trilogy). God Got Ill, which I’ve been shooting for over 4 years now. This Girl, This Boy, which I’ve been filming for a year, and now have more footage for than anything else that I’ve shot, along with God Got Ill. Red Oedipal, which I’m filming and should hopefully be done filming very soon. And then I have several other things that I’m working on that would probably be much more in the future; Half-Breed, Brenda, A Violent Night Goodbye, and The Birmingham Cycle.
Where can readers go to support you and your work?
Banned, Exploited & Blacklisted: The Underground Work of Controversial Filmmaker Shane Ryan looks amazing! What is it exactly and when can we see it?
That’s one more thing that needs to get done. It’s a collection of most of my short films, trailers, scenes from never completed features, old movies, interviews, behind the scenes of stuff, and more. It’s a whole collection/retrospective on work of mine that is primarily not available, and/or has only been shown in film festivals, or occasionally online. But I’m hoping this will be released as a DVD, since it requires a shit ton of menu options, as it’s not one solid film that can be put online as there’s no chronological order to it. So, hopefully, I can find a distributor that’s still doing DVD and/or Blu-ray, who will put it out.
As my website is 123WTF.com, can you share a story of something you saw / experienced / thought of… that was totally WTF?
I was eating lunch at an outside restaurant once and the guy next to me was nearly halfway into sawing through his arm with a piece of glass. I didn’t notice it because right where his arm was there was something blocking it. But the crowd gathering made me wonder, so I stood up and then saw it and all of the blood everywhere. It was quite shocking and scary and sad. I nearly fainted, but was able to quickly grab my girlfriend and get us the fuck away from the table just before cops came storming in from every direction.
What would you like to say to your millions of fans reading this?
Millions? Haha. Well, if I have even 100, awesome. Thank you. Please support indie cinema and physical media while you still can.
Have I forgot anything? Anything you think is important or would like our readers to know?
I think we talked about quite a bit! Thanks!
But again, support physical media. Independent cinema needs you to.
Do you have any siblings? What do your parents / siblings / family think of your films?
I have a brother. Half brother, but I always hated that term. Our relationship has always been strange though. He grew up with another family since he was 1 (I was 5 at the time). It was yet another case of my imagination getting the best of me. I drew some pictures after having been in a sever car accident (my first memory, actually), in which case my mother and grandmother both had their foreheads ripped open. My grandmother went into the windshield because we had just been in a car accident a few months earlier and the seat-belt hurt her ribs, so she chose not to wear one and then this happened. My mother was in the back seat with me but there were no shoulder straps then so she hit her head on the seat in front of her. My mom’s blind, and she was also in shock, so I explained to her that we were in a car wreck and that she had blood pouring down her face, and so did her mother. We went to the hospital and I watched them stitch my grandma’s head back together while she was unconscious. Then I guess I had hurt my ribs so a nurse came in and put ice on me.
After that while in a daycare I drew a picture of a witch putting ice on me so I couldn’t feel it when she touched me. I’m guessing I meant the nurse, of course, but ran wild with my imagination. I did love witches and Halloween and ghosts, and such. I also drew a picture of the witch with my family. But somehow somebody decided that the witch was my grandma (even though they were separate people in the photo, but witch meant ‘old lady’ apparently), and that she was molesting me with the ice touching and such. So my brother and I ended up in foster care (separated, I might add, which was terrifying as fuck – and my first memory of a family meal is with a family I didn’t know who barely even spoke my English language). Then I stayed with another family that were friends of my mom’s for I guess 9 months, and along with my mom (I just had to stay away from my grandma), but I don’t even remember that time period at all, I just remember the first 3 days I spent with the Mexican family. Anyway, my brother wasn’t with us, he stayed with his babysitter. After 2 years that was all over, but my mom didn’t feel like she could handle both of us after all that, plus being a blind single mother didn’t help, so my brother stayed with his babysitter which became his foster family, until he was 18. I only saw him occasionally and was never close to him. Not until he ran away at 16, and wanted to come live with us, and at that time started questioning everything. So, we started hanging out more, and by the following year were making movies together for a bit. So, my brother definitely was supportive. Then he got busted and lost everything a few years later, so he got a normal job, had 3 kids, got married, moved away. So, can’t really hang out and show him films or make any with him anymore, but he was involved in the making of a bunch of my stuff; the APSK trilogy, The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing (he’s the cop), My Name is ‘A’, early short films, etc.
My mom is very religious, so it’s hard to show her stuff, but she strangely seems to be my biggest supporter. She’s been dying to see My Name is ‘A’ but I’m worried the harsh dialogue would be too much for her. Also, since she can’t see, it’s hard since a lot of my stuff is all visuals to music (like Guerrilla). I took her to the premiere of a bunch of my short films and to festivals with me, and the premiere of Warning!!! Pedophile Released. My stepdad is also very supportive but also religious, so I have to pick and choose. My dad has helped me tremendously, as I got started in editing with him, and my first film jobs were because of him, and he doesn’t really have an issue with much of the content (as he’s not religious like my mom), but he doesn’t seem as interested in watching my films for some reason. He came to the My Name is ‘A’ premiere but didn’t stay for the film, and didn’t come to the Samurai Cop 2 or Warning!!! Pedophile Released premieres when I invited him, though he did used to attend a ton of my festival short film showings. He also had the master DLT’s done for several of my films at Image Entertainment, where he worked, which saved me thousands of dollars that I didn’t have, and his co-workers did amazing jobs with the makings of them, and they did a lot of my posters as well, so he’s always been insanely supportive in helping get my films made, just doesn’t seem interested in watching many of them.
Then I have some family members who criticize me constantly, and others who are very supportive.
When Russell Crowe retweets you… If you want to stalk me on Twitter, like Russell Crowe, I’m at @SayntPauly.
85 days in a row at the cinema!
Today I saw Free Fire by Ben Wheatly [Sightseers!]…
Pros: Non stop action and an original idea.
Cons: Hand cam distracting at times and an idea which may not be enough for a full-length film. Still, a recommend from me.
Out of a possible 10, I have 7 Fs to give.
84 days in a row at the cinema! Saw Return to Montauk today…
We are sadly reminded that writers love to write about writers, and especially writers having affairs.
It seems to me a good writer would at the very least have the decency to wax metaphoric rather than broadcast his fantasies directly onto the screen. (Even myself, not at all good writer, wrote an obviously unpublished novel about the fatal demise of a love affair using the – tongue in cheek – extended metaphor of a suicidal zombie rather than simply lay out the banalities of my heartbreak.)
There is only one good film about a writer, and that is Adaptation. It should be illegal to try to make any other films about wordsmiths because none could ever come close to the brilliance that is Adaptation. (That said, I may have forgotten some – what do you think, are there other good films about writers?)
This film, however, is a writer’s puerile indulgence in his fantasies and should have been kept in his bed sheets and away from sheets of paper.
Out of a possible 10, I have 3 Fs to give.
Happy New Year, everyone! I’d just like to nick a moment of your time to announce that I’ll be continuing Watch The Film this year. Upon returning from my hols last summer, I felt I wanted to spend more time watching films and less time writing about them. Seeing, however, that this blog still continues to receive over a thousand hits a day without my doing a thing, I decided to see what the numbers would look like if I actually tried!
For those of you who never left, thank you for your patience, and for those of you new to the blog, Welcome! Come by soon and often. 😉
03/08/2015 BLOG LOVE
I’ve just received a lovely note from a blog world celebrity! The head writer at the super famous Hair Boutique was so taken with our website that she dedicated a post to us in order to thank us for our inspiration!
It’s not often an internet writer sees this kind of generosity…
21/06/2015 BEYOND THE GRAVE (PORTO DOS MORTOS)
One of the perks of being famous is being solicited by other famous people on the famous people network. One such person who contacted me was Brazilian superstar Isidoro B. Guggiana who requested that I screen his indie zombie film Beyond the Grave.
In a devastated post-apocalyptic world where the rules of reality are transformed by magic and madness, a vengeful police officer searches for a possessed serial killer in a battle of the not-so-good versus absolute evil.
From the press book
Where’s This Found: I felt a little like this was a connect-the-dots picture of a straight line. While there’s nothing ground-breaking in this take on zombie films, the film-making itself deserves a great deal of credit. Beyond the Grave is polished and tight, and director Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro demonstrates an ability to get the best out of his actors. BTG is not a great film but it is a great indie film, and a good film overall. Out of a possible 10, I have 7 F’s to give.
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