Red light means go for Blackpool film maker Ryan

A still from Ryan J Smith's award-winning film Red Light Solo
A still from Ryan J Smith's award-winning film Red Light Solo
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A young Blackpool film maker is winning plaudits for his short films.

Ryan J Smith, 20, a former Roseacre Primary School and Blackpool and The Fylde College student, has seen one film, Red Light Solo, pick up five documentary awards.

Blackpool film maker Ryan J Smith

Blackpool film maker Ryan J Smith

The film highlights the Amsterdam jazz scene and was his final graduate movie from the MetFilm school, which is based at Ealing Studios near London.

It came about as a result of him visiting college pal musician Ally Pickering in the Dutch city and spending time filming the young jazz musicians there.

The film picked up awards from Pinnacle Film Awards, Royal Wolf Film Awards, Mindfield ABQ Film Festival, London Film Awards and the Monthly Film Festival.

Now back in Blackpool he is seeing increasing interest and is in advanced talks with a film production company, a script he pitched in 2017.

Ryan said: “I don’t think there was a lightbulb moment for me, I can’t remember a time when I was ever going to do anything different other than make films.

“I think I was about five when I’d worked out that films could make the audience feel certain emotions, it was when I saw Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, I wanted to be able to do that, affect the way that people felt.

"And, then we had Pirates of The Caribbean 2 DVD and it had a special ‘making of the film’ feature - I wore it out, literally. My Godmother had to give us her copy of the disc because I was so obsessed with watching it, over and over.

“I remember that I had been doing a project at my primary school. I’d made a stop-start animation with LEGO and it was put on at the Blackpool Odeon – I remember seeing the credits, my name on the huge screen: ‘Directed by Ryan aged eight’. That was a feeling. So, I’ve had a great deal of encouragement from a very young age.

“When I was a bit older my dad introduced me to Blade Runner and I thought, ‘Wow!’

“My parents, Melanie and Ian, have encouraged and supported me, a little encouragement really goes a long way; by the age of 13 I had made 10 short films – proper films with a beginning, middle and end.

“I was using a second-hand DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) that I’d had for my birthday it was about 10 years old and priceless to me, it was what I cut my teeth on.

“I taught myself how to use the software that came with our family computer. I was about 11-12 years old and making films with my mates in the park, I’d started my portfolio and started entering the short films that I made into competitions.

After I left school I went to Blackpool and The Fylde College and did a Diploma in TV and Radio Media production, it was the closest thing available to what I really wanted to do.”

Speaking about his Red Light Solo film, Ryan said: “Ally was at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, he’s now an award-winning music composer with his own studio at the university and he plays in a jazz band.

“We’d planned to go out, have a few beers and watch Ally play – that’s what I did, but when I was there, experiencing the music and the lights, the drinks and the sweat, I got to thinking that I could create a really powerful mood piece.

"So, I visited Ally again the following month, this time with my DSLR. Ally was great, he knows so many people in the world of jazz, so many contacts, the film just evolved naturally. The film started winning awards before I’d even graduated.”