Producer Mike S. Ryan Is On the Attack

Newsflash. Content still matters. Even with DIY distribution and new business models.

In the June 24th, 2010 Filmmaker Magazine, Producer Michael S. Ryan goes after an enemy that doesn't exist.

This isn't the first time that Mr. Ryan has pounced upon non-existent enemies. Mr. Ryan famously ripped the innocuous John Cusack film, Grace is Gone, writing: "Profit drives its aesthetics, just like profit has driven this war." Yikes! John Cusack made an indie film about a grieving family to profiteer off the war. Cusack is like Halliburton.

If you follow this link, you'll see Mr. Ryan's most recent screed. (Talk about mercenary cynicism, Filmmaker Magazine publishes Mr. Ryan's stuff.) In his June 24, 2010 column, Mr. Ryan goes full bore, writing that "defining a film’s possible marketing plan early can be helpful, [but] a promising marketing plan should not justify a film’s existence. And, more importantly, the lack of one should not designate a film as worthless."

OK. Take a breath. Exactly who is Mr. Ryan refuting? Did someone really say that films made without a marketing plan are "worthless?" (Did someone tell Mr. Ryan that a particular film of his was worthless?) Has any filmmaker ever really argued that a indie film marketing plan is reason enough? Or that lack of a marketing plan alone made a specific film "worthless?"

Has any of the things Mr. Ryan rails against ever really happened to an indie filmmaker? Ever?

Sorry, I loved every minute of your film, I laughed, I cried, but unless you can give me a marketing plan... well, it's worthless.

It's hard to argue with Mr. Ryan when he says: "Developing content and nurturing auteurs should be our top concern, not figuring out distribution models or revenue schemes."

It's hard to argue, in fact, NO ONE IS ARGUING WITH MR. RYAN.

Developing content and nurturing auteurs is the top concern of every film educator I've ever met. And no one in the independent film business (even the most cynical marketing executive I've ever met) ignores content. No one is saying make bad meaningless indie movies. OK. No one. Sometimes bad movies just happen. Even to filmmakers with the best of intentions. Maybe worthless movies happen more frequently now than ever. But don't blame people seeking a revenue model for the films they care about.

And, in a world with so many real evils, why is Mr. Ryan repeatedly bloviating about problems that don't exist?

To me, sounds like Mr. Ryan is angry about something, but I suspect it isn't that film educators are teaching film students how to use online marketing tools.

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