January 23rd, 2012

Paul Ryan, ASC: A Veteran DP at Sundance

Posted By vvalentini

Paul Ryan, ASC started shooting stills when he was about 20 years old. He was a professional ski racer and began by taking pictures of the sport. After working for ski magazines while he was living in San Francisco, he attended SF State for a graduate degree in film and got pulled into the motion picture side of camera work. He worked with Robert Redford on Downhill Racer in 1968, thanks to his expertise on the slopes. From there he got more feature work, including American Graffiti (1973), and eventually moved to Los Angeles. He was second unit DP on Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven where (I believe) he had a part in those gorgeous sweeping landscape shots that captured audience’s eyes in 1978. He worked with Redford again on River Runs Through It in 1992.

Here in Park City Ryan feels quite at home what with all the snow and cinema and Redford going on. (He’s had three films in the festival – Where the Rivers Flow North, A Matter of Degrees (which came through the Sundance Lab) and Easy.) While here this year, he is working with Jesse Dylan’s company, Wondros, which has partnered with Bono’s One Organization to film celebrities attending Sundance at the Sundance Channel Headquarters speaking on behalf of One.

Why the switch from features to informational videos?
I had a son that I wanted to be around more. Also I’ve really enjoyed exploring what these different organizations are about and working with Dylan to produce informational films about foundations and institutions where we get to take a huge concept and condense it into a five or six minute film.

You must approach these filming situations differently than on a feature?
You do, it’s much more like a commercial where everything has to be really succinct. You have to make them say things quickly and keep it simple.

What do you shoot on?
We have been using the Panasonic AF100, which is fine for this shooting. Anything bigger than that would become unworkable because we’re in the field a lot and have to be really spontaneous. On an MIT film we did we ended up running all around the campus so the AF100 was great for that. We’re really interested in the new Canon [EOS C300], so maybe we’ll be making a switch soon.

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