"If You Can Do That, It's Going to be a Thousand Times Better": Interview With My RØDE Reel judge and filmmaker Ryan Connolly

Ryan Connolly is a powerhouse. He's the guy behind Film Riot, the holy grail of YouTube channels for how-to content on filmmaking, which covers everything from cinematography to special effects to scriptwriting, with two new episodes each week. The channel boasts almost 1,000 incredibly informative videos and is basically a free, on-demand filmmaking course. The fact that it has 1.4 million subscribers comes as no surprise. Ryan is also an active filmmaker with 15 awesome short films under his belt – his latest, BALLiSTIC, could be a cut from any Hollywood blockbuster making waves today. Collectively, his short films have amassed almost 10-million views. And, to top it all off, he's a judge for the 2019 edition of My RØDE Reel!

Below you will find out what Ryan's key to creating a great short film is and his top tip for anyone thinking of entering My RØDE Reel this year.

Ryan Connolly on the set of BALLiSTIC.

What are you most looking forward to when judging this year’s competition?

Definitely all the ideas. Every great short film competition sees a ton of entries from a ton of talented new filmmakers that have brand new and exciting ideas, and it's great to see them bring all of those to life.

Your short films are incredible and have amassed millions of views on YouTube. What do you think is the key to creating an entertaining piece of content with a restricted time limit?

I think regardless of time limit, the key is always an understanding of what experience you’re trying to give to your audience and how to give it to them. Whether you’re trying to land a theme, make a point, or just entertain, if you’re not able to grab your audience and give them an experience, whatever your ultimate goal is, it’s going to fall flat.

When starting a new project, what’s your spring board, how do you get going, what drives you forward?

It changes every time. Sometimes it’s the idea of a tone I want to set, a sequence I want to shoot, a character, or a theme. The whole idea is to find that one kernel, that beginning seed of an idea that you’re excited about, then water and grow it into your ultimate project.

Film Riot is an absolute gold mine of educational material for filmmakers – what do you think is the most valuable video you’ve created and why?

I couldn’t really say what the most valuable is. Especially since everybody is going to pull value from different things based off of their interest and experience level. We did just release an episode called How to make a Short Film that I think is really useful for new filmmakers. I break down different things that I have learned over the past 15 plus years of making short films. From writing to completing the film, just a bunch of things that have helped me craft my stories a lot more effectively.

Finally, what advice do you have for this year’s entrants?

The number one thing is to respect the people that are working with you and to treat them very well. You’re a team. You should be a passionate group of people coming together to make the thing, so no one is beneath anyone else. You’re a family putting together the story. If you can do that, come together, trust your collaborators, and work together, it’s going to be a thousand times better than if you were to be a dictator on your set.

Find out more about My RØDE Reel and this year's judges on the website.