Getting to know Ryan Monolopolus a Rising Stuntman, Director and Producer within the Film Industry
In this article we turn our attention to Ryan Monolopolus a rising Stuntman, Director and Producer making waves within the film industry. I was fortunate enough to ask Ryan a series of questions in the form of a Q and A. Below you can check out our interview.
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended, etc.
I’m a kid from West Seneca, a small suburb outside of Buffalo, NY. It’s there that I gained a passion for filmmaking, and some of the other pursuits like travel and martial arts. I attended a midsized high school, West Seneca West and went on to attend University at Buffalo. I learned Filipino StickFighting at Horizon Martial arts there — which led me to train and compete all over the country, Canada, etc.
I produced my first film in 2010, and started a small production company Monolopolus Productions. I then began to work in NYC, and eventually made my way to Atlanta where I currently reside.
What inspired you to get into filmmaking and stunts? Early experiences worth sharing?
Two movies: Spiderman and The Lord of the Rings inspired my interest in film. But from as young as I can remember I was crafting movies and projects in my back yard. I had an affinity and a passion for making projects with my friends on tape; and also enjoyed performing and playing characters. This led me to study film at University at Buffalo and the rest there is history.
Stunts is a bit more of an unorthodox journey for me; I first began teaching actors how to perform with weapons for the screen, and as an amateur actor myself diving further into the industry began being asked to do action on screen. From 2014 -2017 I created and ran a company that trained actors and performers for the screen: On Camera Combatives.
This led to my first interactions with Hollywood stuntmen and eventually to my first jobs performing stunts on camera. I joined SAG AFTRA in 2015 and have been performing stunts since.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
I’m incredibly grateful for every opportunity that I have had — even the ones that didn’t end friendly as they have helped shape me into who I am today. Life — especially with a career in the film industry — is a learning and growing journey.
That said, there has been plenty of adversity I would say I have faced, not unique to the friction most passionate artists must face when doing everything in their power to chase their dreams. Personalities can clash, tensions can run high, and realities can shatter hopeful thinking. I’ve just always focused on keeping the end goal in sight: and to never stop striving to be better. Perhaps the hardest thing for me has been getting over the never ending cycles of no. When your pitching projects, yourself, ideas, a script — you’re going to get a profound amount of nos. Learning what to take away from rejection and maintaining confidence and a positive self image has been something I’ve truly had to learn and grow from.
What do you believe sets you apart from other stunt artists and filmmakers in the industry?
Everyone is different, everyone’s story is unique. I believe some of what makes me different is my high energy and passion for what I do, my converging experience in action aspects and artistic aspects of cinema and production, and quirky, theme-forward style of writing and directing. I strive to make dynamic, original films that takes risks; that takes a strong position on a theme or idea, and that, to me, is really about something I see as important to create dialogue around. My goal is to bridge gripping and exciting filmmaking with arthouse sensibilities.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I have plenty. I spin fire (dragon staff), am an adventurer of sorts (30+ countries and counting), am mildly conversational in a few languages, and long board. I love to learn new things and meet new people. I love to debate — and also love to be proven wrong. Life is about diversifying experiences — and that’s especially important for storytellers.
Any projects you have out or or currently working on?
I have a series of shorts I’ve directed that you can find on the inter webs. I recently finished a spanglish horror / thriller short film titled MUERTE hat will be doing the festival circuit this year as well. I’m probably most excited about a few of the original screen plays I’ve written that are currently in development with RiTE Studios in Atlanta. Projects that will leverage action, art house sensibilities, and some really incredible technology such as high speed and virtual production.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I’d like to see myself making features and episodic series full time. I have a good amount of original IP I’ve been developing that I cannot wait to actualize and share with the world.What advice can you give in regards to individuals looking to enter your line of work?
Patience. Hard work. Make friends. Most importantly be your own friend. Never stop believing in yourself if this is really what you want to do.
How can we follow along in your journey? YouTube? Social media? Sites?
You can follow me on Instagram at Ryan.mono or online at www.atlantadirector.com