ATL meets AFI with Ryan Prows’ thesis film project

Ryan Prows’ bio describes him, among other things, as a conspiracy theorist which brings us to his film .22 that won the 2005 Atlanta leg of the 48 Hour Film Project. The fact that his film capably took on a JFK-like assassination story also lends credence to his bio’s claim.

Ryan spent many years as part of Atlanta ’s film community. He recently headed up creative production for the popular Campus MovieFest. However, he currently lives in Los Angeles , where he is a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute Conservatory.
He has had several successes there thus far directing 4 short films and becoming the recipient of the prestigious Operating Room Scholarship as well as the Bridges / Larson Production Grant.
Ryan is currently raising funds for his thesis film project and I wanted to talk to him about his current project (and allow him to solicit your help) as well as some of his past experiences in Atlanta ’s film scene.

 

Questions

How do you like the AFI program?

 The AFI has been instrumental in my growth as a filmmaker.  Just having the dedicated two years to practice and hone craft has been incredible.  The people I've formed life-long collaborations with and the guidance and instruction I've gotten, and just in the way I approach storytelling differently now, has really been the greatest benefits to coming out here.  The experience has certainly informed me and my work.

What were some of your own personal highlights during your time as part of the Atlanta film community?

 

I love the support and sense of community and culture that the South in general and Atlanta in particular has given me.  I love that you can shoot pretty much wherever you want if you just ask for it, that I could always bum some equipment or time to create something.  People are extremely generous in Atlanta , which helped me tremendously as a kid coming up in the filmmaking community.  People really will just pitch in to help support your dreams and vision when you're some punk kid with ideas and no money.  I've always been grateful that folks helped me get my start.  

Obviously the mentality is different in LA, which works in some respects, but I can't tell you how many times I've said "back home we could do this, no problem".  

Atlanta really supports and fosters its own, and as soon as I get a budget I've got to come back and shoot there.  If for nothing more than to get some barbeque!  Holy lord, I miss BBQ.

Tell us a little about your thesis project. 

We're doing a short film on Narcocorridos, Mexican folk music concerning cartels and drug deals and murder and mayhem and all of that.  The word translates to "Drug Ballads".  So they're these polka-styled songs with accordions and tubas and whatnot, and they're talking about someone having a shootout with the police.

 

The film is set in an Arizona border town, and is about a desperately sick Sheriff's deputy who robs a drug shipment hoping to find enough money to get better and get out of the area.  It's all couched in the framework of one of these narcocorridos.  It's insane.  I'm really into motivated abstract and absurd stuff, which makes a kind of sense when you watch it over some nonsense art thing that's just there for the sake of being weird, and this world and this story has that in spades.  Grounded in reality, a current social issue, and a culture/class clashing, the film touches on themes I've been interested in for a long time.

How can someone help you make it happen? 

Number one is that we're still raising money for the thesis film.  We need donations to reach our goal, and you can go to www.narcocorridofilm.com to learn more about the project and the team, and to contribute.  We're also hoping to continue spreading the word through facebook and twitter and whatnot, and we're constantly updating with reference materials and production work.  So like and follow to stay updated on the film and to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the world we're exploring and the process and work going into it.  

facebook: Narcocorrido - An AFI Thesis Film

twitter: @ateamwinfilm

After this project, what is next for you? 

Several of my team from the thesis film are working with me on my first feature film "Natural Law".  We've been prepping for a bit now, writing the script and scouting locations and gather reference material.  The film's set in Wisconsin in the dead of winter, so it's going to be cold and difficult and beautiful.  We're shooting this coming winter.  I went a month or so ago to scout around, and landed in Madison , and got to go photograph and march in the protests.  Come up off them collective-bargaining rights, yo!

 

Working on the script for the feature version of Narcocorrido as well.  I'm so in love with this world and want to talk about the border issue in a fresh way.  So that script will be ready to go by the time this thesis film is making the festival rounds.