Maureen RyanBio – Maureen A. Ryan

Maureen A. Ryan is a producer based in New York concentrating on feature films and documentaries.  She is co-producer of James Marsh’s Man on Wire, a documentary about Philippe Petit, the wirewalker who stunned the world when he walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974.  It won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary.  Other awards include the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best British Film, the Sundance Jury Prize and Audience Award for World Cinema documentary, the Critics Choice Award, the IDA Award, the National Board of Review, the NY Film Critics Award, the PGA Award and the LA Film Critics Award.

Her latest project as producer is the independent film BOMBER which premiered at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival. Written and directed by Paul Cotter (Estes Avenue, Last Hand Standing) it was shot in Brighton, UK and Bad Zwischenahn, Germany.  She produced a short film Red Flag that was written and directed by Sheila Curran Dennin.  The film was honored as part of the Best of the Fest for Comedy at the 2009 Palm Springs ShortFest.  It also won the 2009 Best Short Comedy award at the Woods Hole Film Festival.

Ryan is the producer of the feature documentary titled The Gates which chronicles the artists Christo and Jean-Claude as they create their latest installation piece – over 7500 gates of saffron cloth that were placed in New York City’s Central Park in February 2005.  It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 and was co-directed by Albert Maysles and Antonio Ferrera.  It played on HBO and ZDF in Germany in 2008.

In 2006, Ryan produced the documentary titled Grey Gardens: From East Hampton to Broadway.  It premiered at the 2007 Hamptons International Film Festival.  Directed by Albert Maysles it follows the story of transforming the classic American documentary into a successful Broadway musical in the fall of 2006.  Ryan is also the producer of The Team, a feature documentary that was shot in Graz, Austria and premiered on BBC Four and TV2-Denmark in 2006/7.  The film follows the NYC-based U.S. homeless soccer team as they prepare and journey to compete against 18 other international teams for the 1st Annual Homeless Soccer World Cup.

On the narrative feature film The King, Ryan served as co-producer.  The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released in May 2006.  It stars Gael Garcia Bernal, William Hurt and Laura Haring and was co-written by director James Marsh (Wisconsin Death Trip) and Milo Addica (Monster’s Ball, Birth).  Marsh was nominated for the 2006 Gotham Award for Breakthrough Director.

In 2004, Ryan was co-producer on a short film titled Torte Bluma that stars Stellan Skårsgard (Good Will Hunting, Breaking the Waves, The Exorcist:The Beginning) and Simon McBurney (The Manchurian Candidate).  Directed by Benjamin Ross (RKO 281, The Young Poisoner’s Handbook) the story takes place in the Treblinka death camp and was shot in and around New York City.  The film won Best Short at the Palm Springs International Festival of Shorts and the Best Drama Award at the L.A. Shorts Film Festival in 2005.

In 2003, Ryan produced a short film titled Last Hand Standing.  It was directed by Paul Cotter (Jeff Farnsworth) and was a finalist in the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival.  The director and production team competed against 9 other semi-finalists who each had 10 days in New York City to write, cast, shoot and edit a short flim before screening it on the last night in front of a live audience and the film jury.

Another feature documentary produced by Ryan includes the award winning Wisconsin Death Trip. It premiered at the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals in 1999 and had a theatrical run that began at NYC’s Film Forum.  The film was produced under her production company, Hands On Productions, Inc. and ran on the BBC and Cinemax in 2000.

During its run at the National Film Theatre in London, David Thomson, the critic for the London Independent newspaper wrote “I doubt you will see a more important American film this year.”  Wisconsin Death Trip won the award for Best Cutting Edge Documentary at the First Annual BBC2 Awards ceremony in London, England.   It also garnered the 2001 Royal Television Society Award for Best Arts Documentary and the 2001 BAFTA award for Best Cinematography.  It  received a nomination for Best Arts Documentary for the 2001 BAFTA Television Awards and was nominated for an EMMY for Best Lighting Design.  Wisconsin Death Trip was also short listed for the 2001 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Ryan’s first feature film Matchbox Circus Train premiered at the Boston Film Festival in September 1997.  Jay Carr of The Boston Globe called it “an enticing low-key family drama”.   The 80 minute independent feature film was shot entirely in Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Due to the island’s “no motorized vehicle” policy, the production was made with only horse-drawn dreys and bicycles for transportation of equipment and crew.

Ryan’s past work has included producing commercials, television series, music television specials, music videos and EPKs (Electronic Press Kits).  She produced commercials for Dove conditioner, Stepford Wives, IBM, Merrill Lynch, Lamisil and Smirnoff Vodka.  Her table top commercials won all three AICP awards in that category in 2004.  Her television series work includes At the Ryman (as Supervising Producer) and The Road (as Documentary Producer) and her

television specials include Long Live the King: Country Salutes Elvis. Music video work includes the Billboard award winning video (for Best Latin Video) for Christina Aguilera’s Come on Over, the CMA award winning piece for Junior Brown’s My Wife Thinks You’re Dead and the ACM award winning video for Jeff Carson’s The Car.

While a thesis candidate for her Master of Fine Arts degree in Film at Columbia University, Ryan was awarded the Paramount Studio Fellowship in Producing.  One of five nominees from the top American film schools, she was given a one-year contract as a producer with the Hollywood studio in their production division.

Since 1999, Ryan has taught Film Production and the Craft of Documentary Filmmaking at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program and supervises student production at the school.  Ryan also teaches a course in Producing Essentials at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.   Her book Producer to Producer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Low Budget Independent Film Producing will be published in June 2010 by Michael Wiese Publishing.