MetFilm School Graduate, Ryan J Smith’s first feature film, Lottery, that he made last year for just £7000 is now streaming globally to a potential audience of over 80 million per month.
The British filmmaker from Blackpool, has negotiated a deal with both Tubi and Plex to stream his first feature film.
Lottery tells the story of a young tearaway who wins the lottery, but risks losing it all when he becomes embroiled in a toxic love triangle with a pair of scam artists.
“It’s the movie that I’ve learned all my lessons on in terms of running a studio and distribution.” Said Ryan, “Lottery was me cutting my teeth as a producer.”
At just 24 years old, Ryan is pretty much a one-man-band when it comes to behind the scenes although two of his friends from MetFilm School, Lewis William Robinson, sound recordist and Adam Bentley, VFX swelled the crew’s numbers, but Ryan writes the screenplays, produces the films, directs, and edits the movies and provides the financing. And…takes control of the films’ distribution too.
He said: “You know, that’s partly a control thing. And I can see bigger returns so that I can reinvest into more movies. With Lottery I spent a solid year after that movie was done in the distribution world, meetings up and down the country and getting a first-hand experience on how film distribution on a cash basis works.”
Ryan’s film company, Skint Film Company has evolved to become a complete studio, and Ryan has big plans for its future, he said: “I want to start opening the doors more to accepting scripts from other writers and producing other people’s projects, but I know that I’ve got to walk before I can run.
“The process of establishing Skint as a self-sufficient studio has been a revealing one. I spent ages trying to get my foot in the door of ‘the system alongside well-known companies and producers — and all it did was reveal how scared they all are of change, it’s the reason I decided to set up on my own.
“I wanted to create a studio that pulls the trigger and makes movies, whilst creating jobs and healthy working environments for genuine talent.”
Ryan is always on the go, he says that his mind is always busy and after this first feature film was finished, he just wanted to keep going, he explained: “I’d finished Lottery. And what happens when you finish a movie? From my experience, you have a kind of false energy where you want to keep going. And so, there are a solid couple of months after you’ve wrapped on a movie where you just write, you know, it’s like ‘oh, what, what am I going to do next?
“Talking to Ghosts was originally two scripts I’d written a few years ago and I just sort of ‘Frankenstein-ed’ them together. One was about an arms deal and the other one was a horror movie set on a farm. I took elements from both scripts and pulled the two together.”
Talking to Ghosts is in post-production and will be released in the summer. Remarkably it cost less than Lottery, but Ryan says, “It’s light years ahead of Lottery technically and just in terms of, the little weird lessons you pick up on, and stuff that you can apply to future projects.
“I learnt a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff in terms of running the company from working on Lottery. Finance management and, getting ‘bang for your buck’, that kind of thing. Because the irony is that Talking to Ghosts is a superior film technically than Lottery. It’s also a longer film. Lottery is 80 minutes, Talking to Ghosts is an hour and 45. So it’s a bigger film, there are more locations, there are more characters. And, it was cheaper, I learned to save money.”
“But this is my thing is I want to make a lot of movies and I want to make a lot of different kinds of movies as well and just have a real company going that’s known for consistent quality output.
Ryan added: “Talking to Ghosts, it’s about a girl who gets involved in an arms deal and it goes wrong. And It’s very much a thriller. It’s very, very stylish. The main actors are Nina Holland Smith, Nathan Fernandez and Graham Edwards who was in The Dark Knight.”
Once again, Ryan’s new film is set in the North of England. He said: “It’s on coast in Lancashire. Getting your locations ends up dictating the kind of movies you make in a way. It’s like, if I worked on a cruise ship or something I could make a movie on a cruise ship, or if I worked in a bar, I’ve got access to a bar. Setting my films in my home county means that I can watch the pennies, and there are lots of fabulous locations in Lancashire.”
Ryan’s advice to any budding filmmakers is short and sweet:
- Find a decent film school, one that encourages you to make lots of films
- Work hard
- Don’t give up
He said: “I think necessity drives everything. Cross pollinated with ambition, will take you places because hard work comes through in the end, all that blood, sweat and tears is worth it. I honestly think that’s the only way you get anything done.
“Build your own empire and see what happens, there’s a life to be had in there somewhere.”
View free on Plex.