What have you made?
The first film I ever wrote and directed was called GRIDIRON GOSPEL. Unfortunately, we had numerous issues, that led up to us having to pull the plug on that project about halfway through filming it. We at Rydan Media LLC and the Executive Producers attached to GRIDIRON GOSPEL are currently in discussion about what exactly we are going to do with it moving forward. I then moved on to My first-ever documentary myself and Jonathan McKinnon grabbed our gear and drove to Waxahachie, Tx. to the Southeastern Assembly of God University (SAGU), and filmed Ryan Smith and his team. This was the first project I did 100% on my own with the help of Jonathan on a second camera. I was extremely proud of this, although it did have some sound issues and learning curves. It was awesome to finally finish a project that I could call my own. Ryan Hanner is my business partner, and he would have definitely been there, but at the time his wife was having a baby, so he appropriately made his family a priority, or else he would have been there also. This documentary follows Ryan Smith, the impact he has at a college University, and the relationships he's made with those kids, and staff under his direction. It's called #UNCOMMN. The spelling is on purpose and explains why in the movie. This film is distributed by SMG and can be found on Amazon Prime. Then, we have the AWARD WINNING "MODERN DAY DISCIPLES". I actually wrote this movie about 5 years ago on my phone (I know, that's a BIG NO-NO) on my way to vacation in Pigeon Forge, Tn. I wrote the entire movie in about 4 hours. This movie was my first ever to actually write, and I really wanted to make sure it was the right time before I brought it to life. Then God introduced me to my best friend, and now business partner Ryan Hanner. When I first met Ryan the role of Garrett (that he plays in MDD) was a super small day player role. As time went on, and I revisited the script, and ideas I knew I wanted Ryan to be a big part of this movie, because his acting is phenomenal, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make him a co-lead with me. So I rewrote the script AGAIN for the third time and ended up with what you see on the big screen today.
What are you making next?
I am currently editing UNCOMMN2: Road to Redemption. That crew consists of myself as the (writer, director, editor, producer, DOP, and camera 1), Ryan Hanner as the (AD, sound, producer, and camera 3), Jonathan Mckinnon as the (second camera), and Jamie Jones, and Jason Gaines as our Executive Producers. This is an awesome story that just adds to the impact that Ryan Smith at SAGU has made on not only the staff, students, and players, but the community of Waxahachie as a whole. We are hoping to land a series distribution kind of like the Christian version of LAST CHANCE U. As I am editing this documentary, I am in the early stages of writing the script for MODERN DAY DISCIPLES 2.
What do you believe in?
I believe that through God anything is possible. I tried and tried to force myself into different production companies, and I have always wanted to bring Christian films to the world because I think a family should be able to sit down and watch a movie without having to worry about covering their children's eyes and ears throughout the entire movie. I was only a man with a dream, and a vision. I had no equipment, I did my time on other sets and continuously made other directors' movies come to life, and it was like my time would never come. I even created a Christian production company with a few of my friends, but again, we had no equipment and were relying on everyone else. That all changed when I met Ryan Hanner. I immediately knew his love for acting would make him a great business partner. Although we are very different, we are a lot alike in so many ways. We offset each other nicely I think. So, I approached him about starting a production company with him, I told him my vision of only wanting to make Christian films, and he loved the idea and shared my same passion and reasons, so it was a GREAT FIT that only God could have brought together. So we started our business RYDAN MEDIA LLC. I enrolled in film school, to help acquire some equipment, and we never looked back. So, to answer the question, I believe through God all things are possible. For that to happen sometimes, we have to stop trying to force OUR will in place of HIS will for us. I did, and look how good that turned out.
What inspires you to make?
My inspiration to create films is no doubt, my family. My son is an actor also, and the fact that he sees me making movies, and giving him roles in those movies is truly an awesome feeling. I enrolled in college at 34 years old. That wasn't for me, that was to show my son that you are never too old to chase your dreams and that as long as God has made a way for you to be pointed in His will then nothing else matters. People are jealous, people are mean and rude, and say things that would make anyone else quit and give up. But, when I see my son looking up to me, nothing else matters. No one knows my heart but God, and He knows I am doing it all for His glory, and that's the only thing that matters.
Who has mentored you?
I am 100% self-taught. Everything I am able to do I have learned from trial and error, and just putting in the work to better my craft each and every time I approach a project. As far as mentors in the industry I look up to Nathaniel Nuon with Nuon Films. I was an extra in his movie THE VOICES, and that was the funniest set I have ever worked on. His professionalism and love for filmmaking were very contagious. After we wrapped, I found him on Facebook and reached out to him letting him know I had a great time, and to thank him for inspiring me to be a better director one day on a SAG project like his. If I'm being honest, I never expected a reply, because that's kind of the theme in today's society. Much to my surprise, he wrote me back THAT NIGHT. To me, that was CRAZY. Ever since that night I always ask him for direction and advice on projects I'm involved in, and every time It's always the same thing. He responds and is always quick to help. He really goes above and beyond to make sure he helps me out. I'm sure I bug him way too much, but I'm thankful for the relationship we've created because he saw fit to respond to one of his fans. I'm a better industry professional because of him, and for that I'm THANKFUL.
How do you make what you make?
I make all my movies, and films with my SONY FS5, Tascam DR-701D, and Sony mic. We started off with only the camera, and 3 LED lights. Now we have grown our arsenal to include Gopros, Jibs, C-Stands, boom mics, and many many more. Everything we buy, we try to use our finances wisely and get the best there is to offer. Ryan and I want you to watch our movies and say (There is no way they did this on a $6,000 budget.) That's the number one thing we hear when someone watches Modern Day Disciples, so I guess we did okay. We don't want to sacrifice quality because of a bad purchase. If we come across a problem, or something we really need, we do our research, weigh the pros and cons, and buy what best fits our needs to bring a quality project to the world.
What creators and creations inspire you the most?
My greatest inspirations are the Kendrick Brothers and the Erwin Brothers. The Kendrick Brothers started out almost like myself, and Ryan. on a very little budget (although theirs was way bigger than ours) and a dream to change the world through the power of movies. Both sets of brothers have taken a stance to create good, faith-based movies that help lead others to Christ. They are both at the point where they could get a budget, and create something secular but they don't. They stay grounded to God's calling and haven't waived in their attempts to better the Kingdom through filmmaking. That to me is so inspiring, and why I have always been a fan of theirs, and always will.
What is your story?
My story is that of resilience and determination. When I was growing up I loved to be THE GOOD KID. Although I was a good kid, I was doing everything for the wrong reasons. I was so focused on people wanting to see how good I actually was, that it became all I lived for. To me, that's just as bad as being the BAD KID. Even in my adult life, I wanted to always be the center of attention, I would do acts of kindness so people would see me doing it, and talk good about me. THAT'S HORRIBLE I know, but that's who I was. That's also why it was so hard for me to fully get settled into film making, and charity work later on in my life. However I fully submitted to God, and I truly want to stand in His background. I no longer gloat about the good that I do or have done, so if you see me doing something good please understand that it is nothing more than God using me as His vessel to be a blessing to someone else. God gets all the glory for anything that I am a part of doing. I now truly want others to see Him in me, and no longer the other way around. My convictions are strict, and my standards are high. That's also why I love working with Ryan Hanner so much. We share the same goal in filmmaking. Yes, accolades, accomplishments, and awards are great, and they are something to be proud of, but those things would not have happened had it not been for God providing a way to make it happen. That's also why we gave GOD a casting director credit in MODERN DAY DISCIPLES because there is no way myself or Ryan could have hand-picked the cast to bring that story to life. Take the character LANDON BOOTH for instance. Jay Hancock was cast as a background/extra inmate. On the day of filming the original guy had car troubles, and couldn't make it. We had worked on the movie MAN BEAR with Jay and knew although he had a very small role he had great potential. We prayed, discussed it between the two of us, and handed Jay the script when he got there. He had no preparation, no time to study or learn lines. He literally would read the lines as we filmed those three days as his lines came up, and he ABSOLUTELY KILLED it. This same situation happened about 5 times throughout this movie, but it was God's timing, and God's plan to have who He wanted in those particular positions. We were only adhering to His calling He placed on us.
What is your purpose?
My purpose is to be a Christ-filled example to families all around the world. I've done it wrong for so many years, I just want to share the love of Jesus Christ to anyone that'll listen. I have made it a goal of mine to show the world that loving Jesus is FUN! The great commission is to go into the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I believe what we are doing with RYDAN MEDIA LLC. is doing just that. What an honor it is, to be able to use the gifts that God has given me, to give Him glory. That's a humbling experience that will NEVER get old.
What miracles have you witnessed in your life?
My son was born a month early. He was born not breathing and had several lungs and other diseases. The doctors said he would never play sports, or be an active kid. He was diagnosed with EMRADD which is one of the worst muscle/genetic diseases there is. There are only like 20 or so people in the world that have this disease, and of those 20 people my son, Noah Todd is the only one that isn't trach dependent and wheelchair-bound. To add to that, fast forward 12 years, and he's 5'10'' and plays football, and basketball in school. NOW, back up 12 years. At the same time as my son having all these health problems, my wife was diagnosed with Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (heart failure). The doctor came in crying when he told us all the news from the results of all the tests she had been through. He said she's way too young to have to go through this type of disease. He said her outcome was not a good one. He told us she literally had a 50/50 chance to live. He said we could flip a coin, one side she lives, the other side she isn't going to make it. This was HEARTBREAKING, selfishly I thought my little family was over with before it ever got started. I quit my job and lived off the state retirement that I pulled out just so I could be with my family. My wife Mallory Todd is the strongest person I know. She left the hospital a week or so later, NEVER gave up, and NEVER looked back. She sought God's will, she flourished in His word, and she did everything the doctors told her to do. She stuck to a super strict diet, and she lost a lot of weight. NOW, fast forward with me one more time 12 years to the present day. SHE IS 100% HEALED, and doing great.
What miracles do you want to perform?
I want to write and direct a SAG Christian movie. You may say "that's not a miracle", but to that, I just say "hear me out." Now, as an indie filmmaker in Mississippi, the numbers don't really add up to make me be able to make enough headway in this industry to be a SAG writer and director. Now, add in the fact that I only do Christian movies. I've seen in my acting that because I won't do or say certain things I'm passed up in the casting stages sometimes. But, it's important to me that I hold true to my Christian values, and stack firmly with Christ in my decision-making going forward. With all that being said though, You can bet on RYDAN MEDIA LLC. We are always learning, and getting better and better with every project we do. The first one we ever did won BEST FAITH-BASED FEATURE in the MIRACLE MAKERS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in LAS VEGAS, NEVADA; so stay tuned, (insert winking emoji)
What do you need to make miracles happen?
Well in any miracle the main ingredients are THE FATHER, THE SON, and THE HOLY SPIRIT. If you go forth into the world and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit then you can change lives, and create miracles everywhere you go. As for my miracle, I believe the three main ingredients are there, we are just waiting for the opportunity for someone to take a chance on two Christian boys from Mississippi, and help us change the world to make a positive impact in the Kingdom of Heaven. The best place to have your name written is in the LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE. So, I've made it my main objective to introduce everyone I meet to the author.