As an actor who has graced the screen in both film and television, Richard Ryan has worked tirelessly to perfect his craft. By the age of 23 his interest in various areas of film had led him to form the production company Ox Films. His latest project, the action suspense thriller Art of Deception, slated for release summer 2018, features Jackie Nova and Amsterdam actor Leon van Waas, and of course Richard Ryan as the male lead playing Joseph Markham.
What was it like to attend a high school that was art driven? Do you think today’s schools should place more emphasis on the arts?
I found it very fun and cool going to Sacramento Waldorf for two years while in high school, a school focused primarily on the arts. I really appreciate the influence it had on my life. The curriculum included dance, choir, theater, gardening, and many other options for arts. The school’s campus was like an oasis for artistic exploration and discovery. I took my first theater class, focused on William Shakespeare, while attending Sacramento Waldorf. I loved it! I performed a duo in front of the school, and one of my teachers came up to me and said, “This is what you need to do!” I continued with acting through high school and college, then I moved to Los Angeles to pursue it professionally.
I absolutely believe that there should be a strong focus on arts in every school from K–12. There should be at least one mandatory art class and exercise class every day. As primal beings, we are made to create and be active. We all need to learn a healthy way to express ourselves through art and movement that will be good for our mind, body and soul. We need to be teaching children that art is a spectacular and beautiful thing, and it should never be discouraged, which happens a lot. In my opinion a lot of people turn to illegal and legal drugs, alcohol and violence because they don’t know how to express themselves properly or comfortably. If you are hyper or angry or whatever emotion you are feeling, create and/or move your body! We all have emotions and we all want to express ourselves. If the fundamentals of art and movement are taught and experienced more at a young age, there would be even more advancement and far less violence!
What was it about the art of acting that drew you to it most?
I feel like being able to express myself as different characters and tapping into different parts of my mind and living out my imagination, emotions and experiences, and having it captured on camera or in front of an audience is wonderful. Being a part of the process with other passionate and professional artists and being able to learn from them is exhilarating.
Who were some of your influences?
My family has always been a great influence on me. Some influences from the film industry have been Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Sean Penn and my acting teacher and coach, Aaron Speiser.
What led you to form Ox Films?
I made my first three short films and realized that perhaps I should start a company since I really enjoyed the process, and I felt like it was something I wanted to continue to do. I felt like creating a brand or a name, and marketing all of my works through that entity was a smart decision, so I just went with it.
What is the most challenging thing you face in running your own production company?
I started something with high hopes, big talk and big moves, and people are very aware of them, so the challenge is to back it up. I feel like I have to learn everything and all things fall on my shoulders. My motivation and my family, friends and everyone who has ever been involved and wants to see me deliver are strong motivations for me. It’s a nice challenge.
What advice would you offer others wishing to do the same?
My advice is to educate yourself about the film making process and the film industry and learn as much as you can from others, from literally all the departments and all aspects of the process. Write and be a great writer. Just get out there and make a movie even if it’s zero budget and learn and grow a team. Do not overlook any aspect, and you need to be in charge of the workflow and have final say. Be smart about who you choose to work with, always have a good attitude, and be humble and respectful. Never think you are bigger than the process because you aren’t, and if you think you are, then your results will suffer, progress will be stunted and bad things will happen. Leave your ego at home, but be confident in the decisions you make, trust your instinct and vision. Be strategic and smart, lay out a solid plan, then execute the plan. As your education, knowledge of the film making process and industry grow, your movies will get bigger and better. Then the creativity and motivation to get your projects seen will grow, increasing your potential to make money. One more thing: when it comes to making a movie, do not rush any step of the process, for will be costly. Let it flow in a nice steady, thoughtful and efficient pace and make smart, planned out decisions.
How does it feel to have the freedom to bring your own creative visions to life on film?
It feels incredible, and it feels amazing that other experts are involved in helping me to see my vision come to life. Finding others who are passionate about that and putting all of their experience and energies into making my vision come to life is ridiculously amazing. Introducing my vision to others, and them making it their vision, and being on the same page with this incredible creative chemistry feels like flying. I don’t for one second take it for granted and am highly appreciative of it, and I am forever humbled. Having it flow leaves me with butterflies and a rush when it happens. The process of collaboration such as this is borderline magical to me and even seems like an out-of-body experience at times.
What was it like to have produced and directed sixteen films by the age of 27?
It feels like a nice accomplishment with a lot of work and effort being put into making these movies. However, the work and effort needs to pay off in the way I intend it, which is for my movies to be seen world-wide.
How do you think your experience in those areas has most helped you hone your skills as an actor?
I feel like the path of going behind the scenes, making movies gives me great life experience and life skills that I can translate to as an actor. As an actor I understand the perspective on the process from all of the other departments, so while acting, I can help achieve the best result for the movie. As an actor, I have my job and bring my creative aspect to the medium, but it’s important to know how and why to do different things. A casting director has a perspective and certain reasoning for what he or she asks for, as well as the director, the sound department, the cinematographer, hair and make up department, the lighting crew, production management dealing with time, budgets and finances, transportation department, etc. The theory and understanding of why and how things are done and respecting the decisions will achieve growth in your craft as an actor and longevity in your career. Being mindful, respectful and aware of the process is imperative to being a great actor. Production management wants an actor to be on time and be prepared so it won’t cost the company extra money. The director wants you to follow his or her direction and the script and live in the moment and create believable behavior. The cinematographer wants the actor to live within a specific space. Working in each department has taught me the psychology and theory behind certain aspects and to be mindful of the whole process. I bring that knowledge to the table as an actor. It really helps.
Do you enjoy one more than the other or do you love all aspects of creating film equally?
I enjoy acting the most, then directing and producing.
Can you tell us a little more about Art of Deception? What can we expect from this one? Where can our readers go to find out more about the project?
Art of Deception is an action suspense thriller that involves a fight for world dominance and a fight for love. The CIA creates a nano chip and a virus to obtain complete mind control over the human population. Scientist Joseph Markham overhears the evil plans, which prompts him to make a move and fights for his life as many CIA agents come after him. Joseph Markham has to think quick and is ultimately left with the decision to save the life of his wife or the lives of billions.
We expect Art of Deception to be in select theaters starting in June 2018 then after that be available for purchase in other various platforms worldwide. To get more information, go to www.oxfilms.us.
What do you enjoy most about creating action films?
Whatever the genre is I very much enjoy it. However, action sequences bring a great deal of energy and a rush of a feeling, which is exuberant. Action sequences are challenging and fun and seeing the scenes come together is very rewarding. There is a beautiful aspect of strength, power, emotion, movement, and physicality, which can be put to great use during these types of scenes.
What is it like to work alongside your partner Jackie Nova? Do you find it helps to have someone to share your artistic vision with?
Being able to work with my sweet heart Jackie Nova is very cool. She offers a lot of great ideas and fresh perspectives on things, and she has a strong work ethic. I like to get her opinion a lot on certain aspects of the process, so I don’t just see it my way. Her perspective is very accessible for me, and I value that a lot. I am able to trust her perspective, and that she has good intentions behind her input, which is nice. It’s very important to have a smart team around you, for it will only make the result even better.
You also brought Amsterdam actor Leon van Waas on board for this project. What was it about his abilities as an actor that first sparked your interest?
I met Leon through Facebook about a year before we shot Art of Deception. He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be in his movie. Then I asked him a few weeks later to be in my movie, which turned out to be Art of Deception. At the time when I asked him to be a part of my next movie I had no idea what that movie would be; however, I knew he had to be a part of it. When I looked at Leon’s Youtube videos and pictures on Facebook, he appeared to be a true artist who was very passionate about acting, music and art in general. I thought he had a very classic Hollywood type of look, and his abilities as an actor were great! He looked like he could tap very deeply into his emotions and passion just like me, and it seemed like it would be a good showdown between us, playing opposite each other on screen. So we made it happen. Finding people who are passionate about the craft is important because they will go the extra mile and do what it takes to get the job done and achieve the best results.
Do you have an interesting story from the set that you’d care to share?
There are actually two stories that I would like to talk about. I will try to be as brief as possible. We shot the dream sequence in the snow and on the lake, both locations being in South Lake Tahoe. I had previously envisioned that scene a couple of years previously with the exact locations and musical score in mind. I saw the meadow full of fresh powder snow, bright blue skies, sun shining, and warm weather. When we traveled to Tahoe to shoot that’s exactly what we got after a two week storm. We got all the shots after hiking and shooting in the snow all of the first day. The very next day we shot the end of the first sequence with a storm picking up, and another storm warning coming in. That worked perfectly for the scene. Jackie and the crew and I then took a thirty minute ride on the very narrow road around the lake as the storm grew ever more fierce by the second. All we heard on the radio was a storm warning. The only thing on my mind was to get the shots and what perfect weather it was for this portion of the scene just as I imagined. Our three cars finally parked at the location, and we had no time to spare as the skies were getting greyer and the mist was getting heavier, turning into rain. The camera operator and I got out there on the dock and had a blast! I had my shot list in my pocket which consisted of twenty shots, and we just raced through each one very quickly, trying to finish ahead of the change in the weather and got them all in about an hour and a half. Mission accomplished! Our footage worked great when we later edited the two dream sequences.
Here’s the second story. It was summertime with a 7:00 am call time as our crew slept on location at the scene where we shot my brother’s house. We wrapped up there by 1:00 pm then drove an hour and a half to Lake Tahoe and rented a boat and shot in the boat from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. We then packed and drove back down the hill in an hour and a half, all ate barbeque that my dad made at his house. The whole crew then drove to where we shot the boxing scene with Jackie and I, in my home town of El Dorado Hills and were there from 8:00 to about 11:30 pm. After the scene we packed all of the equipment into our Budget rental truck, then Jackie and I and the rest of the crew drove back down to Los Angeles and made it there by 8:00 am. The crew went their separate ways as Jackie and I dropped off the camera equipment to our vendors, drove to another place to drop off lighting equipment, then returned our Budget truck and got home at 11:00 am. That was one of our classic 28 hour days. We had been shooting for four straight days and got all of our shots. We shot about eight days in my home town, and it was amazing shooting there. It was wonderful being able to see family and friends while shooting. We shut down the town center while we were doing our motorcycle scene and everyone was watching. It was very intense and super fun.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you have a vision and a desire to achieve a goal, go after it with full force and let no one and nothing stop you. Be honest with yourself and others in your pursuit so you can get the best results. Never get discouraged, nor listen to others discouraging words, but only let their opinions and thoughts make you a better person and gain clarity on your goals and vision. Work well with others and respect other people’s perspectives, being successful is a team sport. Everyone is one decision away from being a millionaire or going to zero, so be smart and make wise decisions.
I feel like Art of Deception is more than a good story on screen. Jackie Nova and I put it all on the line to make our movie a success. We showcase a strong, powerful and talented female with Dominican descent as the female star and producer of Art of Deception, Jackie Nova. I am very proud about that. We also have an international multi cultural cast and crew. Our lead bad guy, Leon Van Waas, lives in Amsterdam, our composer lives in Italy, and we have several Visual Effects Artists who live in India, Egypt and Persia. Art of Deception is a story-driven action suspense thriller that involves a fight for love and world dominance that has a subject of government conspiracy, which a lot of people are fascinated with. Jackie Nova and I, along with the rest of the Art of Deception team hope that you join us to continue our journey together. Thank you to my family and friends for all the help and support, and those who ever believed in me and stayed in my corner. I am truly blessed to have an incredible and smart family that values and believes in what I do, who inspires me, and is always there for support and encouragement. I am also blessed to have inspirational and true friends that show support and encouragement. Thank you for reading.