100 Creatives: Ryan Booth
What he does: "On my site I call what I do 'multimedia storytelling,'" Ryan Booth informs us. "I think I was just being cutesy when I wrote that several years ago, though it's turned out to be pretty fitting," he adds. The description is quite apt, as he has translated his talented eye from photography to filmmaking without forsaking the former. In addition, Booth has plied his trade from behind the soundboard as well, recording and producing a number of artists both locally and nationally.
Throughout everything, the pursuit of connecting to his audience drives his decisions. "I'm not interested solely in images, per se, but how they connect to each other and to the viewer," he says. "I'm in love with music, with the emotions that we feel when we hear a good song. I want to make films, to tell stories that pull these emotions out when people interact with what I make."
Booth seems to leap from project to project with relative ease, whether it's commercial work or pet projects like the recurring SerialBox Presents sessions (of which he is the creator/director) and his pop-up street portraits ("The Anywhere Portraits").
A pair of Ryan's "anywhere portraits" depicting moviegoers on opening night of the final Harry Potter film.
At the moment, most of his work-for-hire is commercial filmmaking: three to five minute profiles, "documentary" style promo spots, and music videos for everyone from MTV, BBC, A&E all the way to local bands and companies. "Currently, I'm in pre-production on a music video, an MTV shoot, and a live DVD for a band out of Nashville," he states, adding that he's also wrapping an edit on a commercial spot for a non-profit, a series of interviews for a commercial client, and developing a documentary project for Houston's Fashion Week.
His SerialBox project features bands swinging through town on tour. These acts stop by the studio, recording three to five songs with full production gear, producing a "live, one-take, multi-track, multi-cam performance video" that Booth and friends then supplement with portraits and an interview, formatting the content into a magazine-style post on the website.
"Think if La Blogotheque and Austin City Limits had an internet baby," Booth explains. "It's an enormous personal project, but easily my favorite thing that I do. We just put out a session with David Ramirez, are in post on a session with Balmorhea, and have 4 more booked in the next three weeks."
Sometimes his creative ambition sends projects into unexpected territory, as in the case of a recent hybrid music video/narrative film, Self-Sabotage, that Booth and his friends created as a visual accompaniment to Derek Webb's Feedback album.
"It started out as a way to shoot some footage in New York and somehow spiraled into a full 43 minute long film that took us nearly a year to complete," he states. The film recently premiered at M2 Gallery in the Heights, and will be making the rounds at film festivals.
Booth has also recently been hired by MTV to shoot cast profiles for some of their reality shows. "It's a hybrid photo/video project where my team sets up an interview station and stills station," he says. "We'll capture interviews with the cast members and then they step over to the still station to create the marketing/promotional images for the season. It's been a great gig. We've completed materials for two shows in the last couple of months."
These? Oh, just a pair of images Ryan shot during a trip to New York - on his phone.
Why he likes it: "Filmmaking is the culmination of all the things I'm interested in," says Booth. "It's part writing, part photography, part music, part ideas: a giant puzzle. I love the challenge of trying to make a coherent story out of so many disparate pieces often captured at different places and different times."
He even describes the process as "endlessly interesting," from project timelines to the schedule, the travel, and the people with whom he interacts.
What inspires him: Booth cites music as his prime inspiration, saying, "There are few things in this world that can transport me the way that music can. It is often the catalyst to many, if not all, of my ideas."
The plethora of information, passions, and ideas available at any given moment share that inspirational duty as well. "We live in such an interesting time," he says. "You can easily bump up against information and ideas from all across the world with just the silly phone that's in my pocket." An avid podcast listener, Booth tallies his regular listening around 50 shows.
"I get as much hearing from a master cobbler as I do hearing from another director or filmmaker," he says. "I listen to shows about science, religion, philosophy, business, filmmaking, writing, and everything in-between."
Ryan's entry, "Miracle," won the Chapter 5 installment of Canon's 2010 "Beyond The Still" competition.
If not here, then where? "Honestly, I don't really believe that any one place is better or different than another," he says. Each town has its own quirks, gems, pains-in-the-ass, hidden cost, and pleasant surprises. For me, I've decided that if I'm flying to LA for gigs multiple times a month, then it'll be time to consider a move - I'm currently flying out there once a month for projects. That's enough to put it on the radar, but not enough to honestly consider moving."
If not this, then what? "Honestly, I'm not allowing myself to roll that question around in my mind too much," says Booth. "This kind of work takes a steely resolve. It's terrifying at times to be trying to make a living out of something that most people consider luxury/hobby/entertainment. I'm staring at my thirties and the decades of my highest productivity. I've been acquiring the tools and now I'm finding the ways that I can apply them. Commercially, of course, but it's larger than that. I'm looking for the way that I can contribute to our culture, society, town. Wondering if I should have been a doctor or lawyer or engineer just isn't a productive (or healthy) way for me to spend my time."
What's next? Ryan sees a busy fall in store for himself. In addition to a trip to Los Angeles this week to shoot cast profiles for MTV, he'll return to Houston with two music videos in production for October. November will see him start production on a feature film, where he'll be Director of Photography. "All this is going on while my wife and I are adjusting to life with our three month-old daughter, Ellen," he adds "Life is busy, but quite interesting right now."
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