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An Interview with Richard Ryan, Actor and Director

by Mike Haberfelner

March 2024

Richard Ryan on (re)Search my Trash

 

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First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who don't already know you?

 

My name is Richard Ryan. I am an actor, producer, director, and writer in the film industry. I am the founder of Ox Films. My most recent film is Art of Deception. My most recent television appearance was on the show Mafia Spies, released by Paramount Plus, where I play former USA President John F. Kennedy. Family, health, fitness, and good nutrition are very important to me. I am a humanitarian and an environmentalist. I also paint and rap. I enjoy creating stories that have substance and cover a variety of subjects and genres. I like including elements of action because I have a strong admiration for martial arts and athletics. I am originally from Sacramento, California, and I grew up in El Dorado Hills, California. I moved to Los Angeles shortly after high school, where I began my professional career in the film industry.

 

Any current or future projects you'd like to share?

 

Currently, I am in the development stages of my fourth feature film entitled Remington, a political action thriller. We are gearing up to start pre-production in April 2024. I recently had several auditions, so perhaps I might book one of those films or shows.

 

Other films that I have in development include an MMA movie, a movie similar to The Fast and the Furious and American Graffiti. I also have two comedies in the pipeline, one of which includes a storyline involving Goldie Hawn. I recently had the pleasure to work with Kate Hudson.

 

I have other scripts of all genres that have crossed my desk with great stories from writers and producers, and several more scripts that I have written that I am eager to get to as well. We'll see what pans out and when. I am excited and inspired all the time to find out. The pieces fall into place when the time is right.

 

What got you into the filmworld in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I took my first theater and acting for the camera classes while in high school and some in college shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. After about six months of auditioning, working as a personal trainer, and doing extra work, I decided to make my first short film in 2006. I bought a computer, editing software, and a camera from Best Buy. I gathered friends who were also actors and found locations, and then I shot my first short film. It was unscripted. I edited the footage we shot and then released it, starting my production company Ox Films soon after.

 

I then went on to my second short film, where I wrote the script, rented a camera and equipment, found locations, put an ad on Craigslist to get a crew, and hired actors from acting class or whom I met while doing extra work. I created the schedule and shot list, and we shot the film in about a week. I edited the project and then released it. After shooting my first 7 short films, I rented the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills and promoted it, getting about 100 people to show up. It was a cool experience.

 

After my third short film, I shot my first feature film called Fortune 500 Man, which can be seen on Tubi and Amazon Prime. I got into the film world just by doing it and going through the process, learning as I went. It was a very ambitious path that I chose, but I really feel that it chose me. It wasn’t until 5 years later, after making my own films, that I went to film school and took four classes at The Art Institute. I love learning about films, acting, and everything about the business. I actually really enjoy learning about people and life, no matter what the subject is. The film industry is very suitable for me because movies encompass life and people.

 

You seem to be equally comfortable in front of the camera as behind it - so which side do you actually prefer? And are there any filmmaking jobs you could actually do without?

 

I prefer being in front of the camera. I originally started making movies so I could be in front of the camera more. While I enjoy producing, directing, and writing, as well as going through the process, it requires a lot of effort and time. There's also a great deal of responsibility, pressure, and at times, life can feel out of balance. When you act in projects where everything is already set, you can just focus on acting. Hopefully, you're the type of actor who enjoys promoting the film you're in, as that serves the whole project. It's super fun getting out there and talking about it.

 

It's an absolute breath of fresh air when I get chosen to be a part of someone else's vision and can just focus on acting and preparing for my role. Everything is set up, and I can pour all my experience, preparation, hard work, tears, heartache, and joy into the role. Living in the moment under the circumstances of the scene, reacting off of others, everything feels so fresh and captured.

 

The moments get captured with the proper lighting, direction, different camera angles, in the chosen location, with the proper wardrobe, hair, and makeup looking a certain way, and with the dialogue being picked up by the audio department. All the pieces are pulled together by the production team, and when action is called, it's your moment where it all comes together. It really is very magical and feels like an out-of-body experience at times. The camaraderie, love, and passion, everyone being on the same page on set, is electrifying. There is a particular understanding that exists in the air. It is utopia.

 


As an actor, I have the opportunity to play many different characters from all walks of life and backgrounds, in many different stories, with many different talented, ambitious, amazing people. Every day, I am inspired to put my best foot forward and be the best that I can be so I can do this as much as possible. In return, I can help my family and community more and have the freedom to do more.

 

Do talk about your very early filmwork, in whatever position, for a bit!

 

When I started making films in Los Angeles, it was very exciting and liberating. It felt like I was onto something big, and it felt very natural to create, explore, and have this adventure of making movies. Since as long as I could remember, I was always creating. It's something that I need to do. Making movies felt natural because I always enjoyed performing, having a vision, and then being creative and disciplined enough to work towards my vision. It was always a nice challenge to take an idea and come up with a way to translate that idea into images, dialogue, and determine the locations, characters, and creative shots I could use to best execute my idea.

 

I enjoyed breaking down the script and figuring out what props I needed to gather, as well as scheduling, budgeting, and deciding on the music, sound design, and lighting to use to help set the mood. I really enjoyed picking up the equipment that we needed for the shoot, after figuring out based on the scene what equipment was needed. I learned a lot of technical aspects during that process. Editing was very challenging at times and very technical as well, but developing more of an understanding and getting better at it gave me a sense of power that I can make anything I want.

 

I really enjoyed being in acting class and playing out different scenes, learning new methods, and finding out what I am truly capable of. I loved accumulating experience and exposure, whether it be in class or on set. Seeing other actors perform scenes taught me a lot. My first great acting teacher was Aaron Speiser. I learned the importance of truly living in the moment in life so I could do it easily during a scene, and how important it is to accumulate life experience so you can apply it to your work as an actor. I learned a whole lot more as well from Aaron, for which I am very grateful.

 

I think the movie that was your breakthrough was Art of Deception, a film you wrote the story for, starred in, produced and directed - so what can you tell us about that movie for a bit, and how it came about?

 


I learned a huge amount while filming Art of Deception and during post-production. Art of Deception is an action conspiracy thriller with a love story. I play a scientist who discovers that the CIA is creating a deadly virus to take over the world. I am ultimately left with the choice to save the world or the life of my own wife after the CIA kidnaps and interrogates her. Of all the films that I worked on, Art of Deception is the film that I learned the most from and was the most impactful. It was the biggest-budget film that I produced, so there were a lot more variables and people involved, and more was on the line. I faced severe challenges during the making of Art of Deception that I had to work through, and I had to acquire new knowledge about aspects of the filmmaking process, life, and people. Now, today, I know a lot more and am able to apply that knowledge to everyday life and towards my next films.

 

Art of Deception was also the film that I knew would be the one to catapult my other films as well. I figured once Art of Deception becomes successful, people will want to see my other films. And the success of all my films will open up new doors and opportunities for me as an actor and producer. Art of Deception was incredibly fun to make, and everyone involved played their part with commitment to the film. As a team, we completed the movie, and now we are trying to bring more exposure to it every day. We shot some of the film in my hometown in El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, Sacramento, and in South Lake Tahoe. It was very cool that my family was able to be a part of the filming, and the people in my hometown were able to witness the filming and be a part of it as well. We did shoot the film predominantly throughout Los Angeles, though, and that was great because Los Angeles has a lot of wonderful locations to film.

 

Jackie Nova, lead actress and producer, and I were hanging out poolside on one hot summer night, kicking our feet in the water, talking about movies. It was at that time when we said we should make a movie. Then, from that moment, we got to work. We completed the script based on my treatment, and then we went through the process. It really has been an incredible ride creating Art of Deception. Jackie and I started by doing all the initial pre-production work. Then, from there, we planned on filming one weekend a month, so we would prepare specifically for that one weekend of filming for about two to three weeks. After we filmed during the weekend, I would take a week to edit what we shot, then we would plan for two to three weeks again for the next weekend shoot, and we repeated that process for about two years. Then we had our principal photography completed as well as a rough edit. We then scheduled and shot reshoots and pickup shots, and then had to fundraise again for the completion of post-production, which included sound work, visual effects, color grading/correction, which at times was a very daunting task. We found our composer in Italy and several visual effects artists throughout Egypt, India, and other parts of the world. I learned so much, including the workflow and supervising the whole post-production phase. I learned so much on Art of Deception that now I really know how to develop and plan a film from scratch all the way through the post-production, marketing and distribution phase at the very beginning to ensure that the whole production experience is smooth and successful. I am grateful to everyone who participated in the making of Art of Deception. I am inspired every day to make Art of Deception a hit so everyone on the team could be very proud, and we can all win big. I hope you watch the movie and enjoy it.

 

Art of Deception

Any other films of yours you'd like to talk about?

 

I encourage you to watch my first two feature films, Fortune 500 Man and Natural Demise, as well as my other seventeen short films. Also, check out the behind-the-scenes making-of documentary of Art of Deception, as well as the two red carpet premieres at Sony (Culver City) and Landmark Regent Movie Theater (Westwood), all found on my website at www.oxfilms.us. Thank you very much in advance for your support, and enjoy the show.

 

What can you tell us about your production company Ox Films, and the philosophy behind it?

 

I officially formed Ox Films in 2008. The ox to me symbolizes an animal that is not only physically strong and able to carry a lot of weight but also mentally strong because the ox keeps going and going and going, and goes the distance. That's what I do, and I bring people on board who have a similar mentality.

 

How would you describe yourself as an actor, and how as a director?

 

As an actor, I have a very wide range and am very versatile in the roles I can play and the action I can portray on screen. I enjoy the process and preparation phase, as well as being on set and really living in the moment as the character, under the circumstances of the scenes and story, with those who I share the scenes with. I have an extremely strong work ethic and am very dedicated and passionate about the craft. I give it my all.

 

As a director, I am very passionate and have a strong work ethic as well. I enjoy all phases of filmmaking—the development phase, pre-production, shooting, post-production, and marketing and distribution. I love the whole process of bringing all the pieces together to make it work so the experience and process are very smooth and enhance the story and final result. I really enjoy working with people in all departments and taking the time to plan it out properly with a specific budget, schedule, shot lists, storyboards, and making sure the right people with good attitudes, gratitude, commitment, and passion about their job are hired. This will ensure the process can be an incredible experience that translates into a successful and amazing movie. Challenges will arise, but with the proper team, anything can be worked out for the best.

 

Creating opportunities, learning along the way, and meeting new people in an endeavor such as directing and producing a movie is a very magical and incredible experience. I am forever humbled, focused, and grateful for the opportunity to do it as much as I can.

 

Filmmakers, actors, whoever else who inspire you?

 

I have been influenced by many actors and filmmakers. Just to name a few: Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, David Fincher, Cillian Murphy, Daniel Day Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Vin Diesel, Edward Norton, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Sean Penn. I am grateful to many people who have helped me along the way, and that is very inspiring to me because I always want to return the favor and make their efforts towards me pay off in a way that will benefit them.

 

I am also grateful to people who admire my work and are inspired by my work or words because I really enjoy inspiring people to go for their dreams and be the best version of themselves. I am grateful to my Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa for being true leaders and visionaries, and to my whole family, Jackie Nova, Aaron Speiser, Patrick Giraudi, and all those who have believed in me and helped me along the way. They are a few people that I have learned a lot from and who have helped me to be the best version that I can be as a person and with my work. I am forever grateful to them. It brings me great inspiration to give back.

 

I am definitely grateful to myself as well because I have always believed in myself and I keep growing as a person and never give up on my goals.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

My favorite movies are Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, No Country for Old Men, Caddyshack and Blues Brothers. I also have to mention my favorite TV shows. They are Peaky Blinders, Shameless and Ray Donovan.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I appreciate all films. I can’t say there is one film that I disapprove of.

 

Your website, social media, whatever else?

 

Website: www.oxfilms.us

Instagram handles: @RichardRyan7, @ArtOfDeceptionTheMovie, and @OxFilmsEntertainment

Twitter: @OxFilmsENT

LinkedIn: OxFilmsEntertainment

TikTok: OxFilmsEntertainment

Facebook: Richard Joseph Ryan

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

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I would encourage others to challenge themselves to always have a good attitude, gratitude, and to be kind to themselves and others. Have respect and honor for your family, friends, and community, as well as the planet you live on. Have positive goals that will keep you focused and stay committed and on track, as it will give you a clearer direction. Challenge yourself to be the best version of yourself every day and lead by example because others are definitely observing you. If they see you do good things, it will encourage them to do good things as well.

 

We are all people, and sometimes we need a positive role model to look up to. You will give them a sense of hope and encouragement. Sometimes you might not even know that you are a role model for someone else, so strive to be a positive and good role model for others. Always have a strong work ethic, be ambitious, courageous, and always live your truth with respect and dignity. This is your life. Just go for it.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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