BY: JASON RAYMOND
Ryan M. Andrews: Connecting With His Fans
Writer/Director Ryan M. Andrews sees many reasons to love making horror movies, “Horror has the best possibilities for really engaging the audience. The other reason to love it is the fans. People don’t dress up as Julia Roberts for Halloween and you don’t see too many Rom Com Conventions, but they will dress up as their favorite characters from a horror movie. These fans eat and sleep horror. They go to the conventions and film festivals, and buy DVDs, then the
Director’s Cuts and the 10th Anniversary DVDs. I love that passion. They’re the same as me growing up in the 1980s watching horror and listening to heavy metal. Both genres have die-hard fans. The passion of the fans elevates horror above any other genre, in my opinion, and that’s why I would want to stay in that genre.”
Andrews disputes the notion that horror films have simple formulas or an exclusive conformity of method. “I’ve done four features, and there are so many different styles of horror. So many more types of horror movie exist than romantic comedies. It’s something I learned from watching John Carpenter’s films. He had so many different kinds of horror and also he mixed elements from different genres in every movie.”
Andrews has been making movies professionally for 13 years. He started off at Niagara College, moved to Toronto, and
continued studying film at the Trebas Institute. Working professionally on commercial projects, he tried to find resources to make his own film from Canada’s many financing outlets. He found no support. “I wallpapered room after room with rejection letters. No one was interested. So I decided I had to do it myself. And actually I think that is more common these days. Filmmakers everywhere are embracing that DIY attitude. For the love of the art and artist, we will do this with or without you!” He made his first feature with “pocket change” and used that as an introduction not just to horror fans, but to people working in the industry.
Andrews says “you can’t have a film people love, if you don’t have a story people love,” and he credits two people who especially helped him develop his script-writing skills. “Richard Finney is a producer/writer out in L.A. who has written horror novels. I met him through a writer I knew in Toronto. Richard read my scripts, and he liked and hated them at the same time. He told me I had the passion and drive to make a good story but I need to write my scripts differently. He broke it all down for me, helping me make each story perfect. Any film begins and ends with a good story.”
Toronto-born actress Brooke D’Orsay gave Andrews cogent advice gleaned from all the different types of scripts she was reading in Hollywood. “I would show her a script and she would give me suggestions and ideas,” Andrews recalls. “She guided me on the right path of realizing myself and learning how to make a script shine. She and Richard were two big stepping stones that help me get to that next level as a writer and demand better characters and better stories from my work.”
Having now made four feature films, Andrews finds that social media really aids the independent filmmaker. “The idea of the lone filmmaker, sitting alone with a bottle of whiskey and smoking cigarettes, that’s a noir image. It has nothing to do with the reality of working in this industry.” He credits Facebook and Twitter with helping his fans stay abreast of his upcoming projects as well as gain new fans. Social media also makes promoting horror film festivals easier. Many of Andrews’ fans first learned of his work by seeing one of his movies during a festival.
The other aspect of social media is helping him stay connected with colleagues. Andrews is part of a close-knit community of
indie filmmakers who know and support each other. “I know people who make totally different styles of movies from me, but we do festivals together and hang out a lot. As one fellow filmmaker says, ‘I’ve never worked with someone in this industry that I haven’t sat down and had a beer with first.’”
Living and working in Toronto has also been beneficial to him. “Toronto is a big place for horror. Fangoria has a world-wide reputation; it’s a pop culture touchstone and Chris Alexander, its Editor-in-Chief, lives here and runs the mag from here. He does screenings and he has helped give a voice to so many of us in the area. Chad Archibald (NeverLost, The Drownsman), Tricia Lee (Silent Retreat), Gabriel Carrer (In The House Of Flies) and he himself has made a couple great horror films. There is a lot of us here and we’re growing.”
Andrews’s most recent feature “Sick” is a unique zombie film. “I wasn’t interested in doing a blood and guts zombie film because they come out every year. Instead I incorporated a strong dramatic element to the story. Frankly the best horror films utilize drama. The Exorcist, The Shining. I also used other subgenres of horror like psych thriller or torture porn, added that to make something original.”
For his next feature, Andrews will be working with Jessica Cameron, Actor/Director of “Truth or Dare”. Andrews describes this upcoming project as ” a big melting pot of every kind of horror: Slasher, Grindhouse, Psychological Thriller. Basically it’s a film that will make the die-hard fans happy. It should also bring in people who would not otherwise be interested. We’ll have elements in the film that will reach out to a newer audience. ”
When not making features, Andrews makes short films, in part to practice techniques and experiment with new ideas. “Like a sports team, I practice all the time. Making short films is like my tryouts, warm-ups or the pre-season. I’ve been shooting shorts lately with a RED Scarlet, and trying out different techniques and actors. I will never know everything about making a movie, but I always want to expand my audience and learn something new about filmmaking. I’m really proud of two shorts which I’ll be putting into festivals this year, both are very ‘David Lynch’ style obscure art horror’”
For more information about Ryan M. Andrews or to arrange a screening of his films, contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.