Erin Ryan is a Philadelphia born, New York and LA-broken director and shooter currently living in Seoul. She directed an Emmy award-winning newscast before turning her attention to film full-time. She is a proud member of the Los Angeles chapter of Film Fatales. Erin’s feature length debut, Love Isn’t Enough, (LIFE WITH SAY, SAQUAN JONES) explores an interracial couple (SHADNER IFRENE, ASHLEY BLOOM) amidst the backdrop of Brooklyn’s burgeoning Black Lives Matter Movement. It premiered in Chicago’s 2016 Black Harvest Film Festival, travelled across many US cities, and premiered internationally at the Toronto Black Film Festival in 2017. RogerEbert.com calls it “A Blue Valentine of sorts for the Black Lives Matter discourse.” This film collected Best Narrative Feature – Drama nominations from the Long Beach Indie International Festival. It made its television debut with BRIC Arts Media, screened in 5 cities across the US, and is now available on Amazon Prime.
Her latest digital series Meet Carole (COCOBANA PRODUCTIONS) details a woman, Carole, (HILLARY HAMILTON) who learns to become best friends with her newly-outed husband, Roger, (JONATHAN ZIPPER) when they move to New York City. Meet Carole’s first screening is with LACINEFEST as it currently begins its festival adventures. Erin’s latest venture has been building the first-of-it’s-kind film academy, AMJ, in Seoul alongside a team of American filmmakers. She is excited to contribute her efforts within the ever-changing Korean education system to share the tools of communication to the growing generation of creatives in this burgeoning South Korean Film Industry.
What do I do best?
Oh dear, this already a tough one!
I would like to answer this question with the most wonderful piece of feedback I have ever gotten from someone that I worked for, Thor Wasbotten; it remains the single greatest compliment I ever received and made me feel very proud of my teambuilding, which is stylized by learning and collaborating.
That and Thor speaks far more eloquently than I do!
“When I met Erin, I knew she had a heart for learning and succeeding. Some people want to learn to improve their intellect, others want to learn to make a better salary or have a better career in the short or long term.
Erin, however, approaches learning and success with her heart. She cares about others in the process of learning and succeeding. She measures learning and succeeding by how much she has improved conditions for others. Learning with your heart takes hard work and a determination that is more holistic than individual. Not many people have that trait.”
Excuse me while I go wipe my eyes again, thank you for sharing in this memory with me! In short: I get tremendous pride from my teammates’ success and strive to always do my best to provide my teammates with what they need to succeed at their greatest heights. I love it when everybody wins.
What makes me the best version of myself?
What a great question! I think the nugget that unlocks the best version of myself is my unending curiosity about absolutely everything. My curiosity is entirely responsible for the person I’ve become. I believe that if something, anything, speaks to your interest, it’s your duty to investigate it!
Especially where it may not be immediately evident, everything in life is your teacher. Nerves are your body’s way of teaching you that what you are doing is really important to you; march toward that feeling with intense curiosity, because whatever is on the other end of your nerves is something that uniquely speaks to you. It’s your duty to find that out and share it with the world.
I might add that my relentless positivity has guided me a long, helpful way as well.
What are my aspirations?
Blatantly speaking, I aspire for the world in which I can comfortably give direction on set with one arm and hold a breast-feeding baby with the other— and no one thinks twice about a single piece of that puzzle!
I recognize that success means very many different things to many different people, and for me it is all about access to “self-love”. Self-love defeats the urges for biases, hatred, and pain that are produced when a person can’t find access to it or drowns themselves in fear of what they don’t know.
If I can unlock a bit of the secret as to why so many experience difficulty accessing self-love, and in turn, share those findings with others, I’ll have achieved something truly meaningful. I think film has organically become the avenue for this great desire of mine because it is ripe with opportunities to pack meaningful messages into every frame for a universally shared human experience.
My Biggest Success?
I have had a really hard time answering this question, and I think I can only say that my greatest success has been my unwavering commitment to making choices out of love and not out of fear. Realizing the power of that fundamental drive behind every choice continues to unravel new gains for me in my lifetime more than I could ever imagine. My biggest feelings of success come from moments I bravely proceed in the direction of my nerves and fears just to remember that everything is hard until you learn it.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Ah, haha! Life is full of challenging moments, challenging decisions, goodness; you can be making 5 challenging decisions at once with only 5 moments to ponder on any given set day! But when I reflect most deeply about the most impactful challenge of my life to date, it was the day our great, big, loving family experienced the devastating loss of our brother, Jimmy, to congestive heart failure at only 30 years old.
In the process of our grieving, I started to shoot and stitch a together a short to honor him, as that was my primary means of expression; not to mention I was at such a loss for how to expend all of my emotional energy. In this project, my marriage to filmmaking became solidified as it revealed the powerful cathartic energy the filmmaking experience has on it’s conductors, collaborators, and community. This is where I stepped out of news and focused on the medium of film. Pursuing this career feels like the long love letter I want to address to my family; it helps me find ways to try and heal in the world that which requires compassion or a dedicated look through this amazing medium.
My motto comes from a quote from the great Charlie Chaplin: “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
This question is so exciting to me, where do I begin? Oprah Winfrey is hands-down my favorite person and role model. Seeing what she’s done with her life and her program is exactly what inspired me to develop the skill set to be able to work for her one day! That translates now to a desire to invest energy within change makers like her in my lifetime; thank you, Oprah Winfrey. To add to that list of admirees, I include Amy Poehler, Drew Barrymore, Michelle and Barack Obama, and Martin Scorcese. Directors I have had the blessing to meet or work with who deeply inspire me include Patty Jenkins, Tina Fey, Iram Parveen Bilal, Amber Searley, Maria Burton, and Lena Khan.
My personal heroes are the women in my family who each day shape so much of the humor and fervor with which I’ve had the greatest pleasure experiencing life.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite destination right now is where I am currently living for work, in Seoul, South Korea! South Korea is absolutely incredible and the city just continues to rise in its cultural and professional expressions. I’m so excited to see the burgeoning film industry here and I’m excited to meet some of the country’s current and future change-makers. I am working alongside an incredible team of American filmmakers working to marry film and communication into the Korean education systems’ ever-growing desire for creative educational pursuits.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My favorite item is my little old record player that my loved ones got for me on my birthday the year I was moving into my new Los Angeles, CA home. This gift was the most perfect way to unpack the beginnings of the West Coast experience. I’ve brought it with me here to South Korea where I can listen to records while I write, work, lounge, clean, you name it! It’s become a very centering object for me. My favorite personal items include that and my copy of Women Who Run With Wolves, by Clarissa Estes!
My favorite tool for work is no doubt the ARRI Skypanel, can we talk about this for a moment? It seemed for a while that what you see is what you get in the grip department, but I think since this instant-classic has made a huge shift in what we can expect to imagine in this department. Similarly, I am so impressed by Atlas’s latest Orion Series set of anamorphic lenses that are hitting the market right now. Providing anamorphics at those rates are destined to generate a very real cultural shift that I look forward to seeing emerging and existing filmmakers employ in the next few years.
It’s so exciting to see what each generation is capable of and how diverse our voices can be when we have increasing access to such high-quality craftsmanship in which to explore our art.
My Current Passions?
I am absolutely obsessed with this new program we’re developing, AMJ, bringing South Korean students into the film sphere before they’re college-aged. The city’s film market is just full of creative energy; providing this generation with the toolkit to cultivate their creative expressions into tangible work opportunities is such a meaningful investment of our efforts. We aim to impact the cities and communities of Seoul, South Korea just as much as we hope to impact the individual students that otherwise face a most demanding education system.
We have been designing the school for a few months now and will experience it’s first crop of students this July! Even if students decide communication is not their path, we hope to still give them the tools to enhance their English-speaking, emotional language, and creative problem solving skills through the educational tool that is a film set!