Thursday, February 26, 2015

Interview with Ryan Lieske.

Full Name:
Ryan Charles Lieske

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Current hometown:
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Favorite city and why?
Unfortunately, I haven't traveled nearly as much as I would like.  However, out of the places I have visited, I really love New York City.  It's probably the Woody Allen thing.

Birthday / Age:
December 19th. I'm 41. And I'm still not used to saying that.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Endearingly short and out of shape.

How would someone else describe you physically?
The same, except drop the “endearingly”.

The first thing people notice about you is…
“Do you sleep in that hat?”

Sexual orientation?
Straight.  However, when I'm writing or directing, I become bisexual.  I feel I need to be in order to do the job right.

Religion, if any?
I walked away from religion a long time ago, but it's still a subject that fascinates me.   And there aspects to a lot of faiths that I find beautiful.   Of course, there are just as many aspects that I find abhorrent.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I'm what you would call “half-assed superstitious”.  And phobias?  Yes, I have one real phobia, and that's my ridiculous fear of praying mantises.  I will scream and run if I encounter one.
You do know that they’re perfectly harmless to humans though, right?
Oh, I know, it's completely stupid. But there's just something about them that unnerves some primitive part of me, and makes my blood go cold when I see one.  My brother, Josh, has the same fear.  I guess it wouldn't be much of a phobia if it wasn't so irrational.

Do you smoke/drink?
I quit smoking about 5 years ago, by using nicotine gum. I then became hooked on the gum. I quit that cold turkey, on my 41st birthday. I used to drink a lot more, in my 20s and early 30s, but I've tapered off quite a bit in the last few years.

If so, what?
Whatever the cheapest beer is. I don't enjoy it enough to be a snob about it.

Any bad habits?
How long do we have?
As long as it takes.
I don't eat well.  I drink too much soda.  I chew my fingernails.  I generally jump to awful conclusions before thinking things through properly.  I buy more books than I'll ever have time to read.  I trust people too easily (which is just about the WORST thing you can do in the filmmaking business).

Current occupation / Dream job:
Currently, I work for a company that does closed captioning for movies and other video programming, the majority of which is porn.  I also own my own movie production company, which, if it ever actually made any money, would be my dream job.
When you subtitle porn, do you have to figure out how to spell the orgasmic groans or do you just subtitle the groans, sighs and moans with “orgasmic groan”.
Actually, that is the first question everyone asks when they find out what I do.  We don't caption any of the groaning or moaning.  That is what is considered a “sound effect”, and in porn, that sound effect is implied by the very fact that you're watching porn.   We do, however, have to caption everything that is being said, if it concerns the “plot”.  Or, if you're clearly seeing someone's mouth making words in a close up.  Although most of the time we don't even script “oh, God” or “oh, fuck” because that, too, is implied.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
If I had any money, I would travel.  But mostly, when not writing, or working on a movie, I like to read, watch movies, hang out with my cats.  Sometimes, I do all of that at once.  Which probably explains a lot.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Find the nearest Rite Aid or Walgreen's, and barricade myself in there.  I figure, with most pharmacies, you only have one entrance to worry about.  Plus, all those medical and food supplies.  And toys for the kids. 

Weapon of choice:
Can I have the EM-1 Railgun Arnold used in Eraser? Is that a real gun?
For the purposes of this interview it is.

Do you have any special skills?
I cook a good steak, and I give good volley in tennis.  I'm also told I have a good ear for dialogue.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I did go to college, and I completely wasted my time there.  I wish I'd never gone.  Long story.
I’ve got time if you want to delve.
Well, in essence, I paid a lot to go to a good school, and then spent most of my time skipping class, slacking off.  I wasn't a partier, or anything.  I just simply didn't treat my time in higher education with any respect.  I sort of coasted through it, with my eyes locked on some nebulous future that was eventually going to sweep me off into success and fame and fortune.  I didn't slap my face and tell myself that in order to get anywhere near that dream future I needed to work for it.  I'm quite disappointed in myself for how cavalier I was about my life back then.  I took it for granted that I was going to be a successful writer/director, and arrogantly told myself I was better than everyone around me.  Which, really, was just me overcompensating for the fact that I had no self-esteem whatsoever, and very little faith in my own talents.  I figured if I faked enough, I'd achieve something.  God damn, if I could I'd go back and kick my ass so hard. 

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
I was lucky, and my father paid the loan off for me.  Now I owe him a shitload of money I'll never live long enough to pay back.  At least the harassing phone calls stopped.
I wish my step-dad would step up and knock my loan out.  It would reset my credit and I could work out some kind of payment plan where I paid them $100 a week for the next 2,000 weeks.  I just hate paying the actual loan companies because with interest constantly accruing it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back each time I make a payment.
Tell me about it.  It's like Sisyphus dealing with all that bullshit.  Now all I have to deal with is the guilt.  Since I feel guilty about everything anyway, what's a little more going to do?

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Two cats: Arbor and Karloff.
“Karloff?  Sidekick?”
One of my Top 5 favorite films.

What is your favorite animal?
Currently, I love quokkas and red pandas.  Well, and cats, of course.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
I'm a bit of a Grammar Nazi.  Non language-related peeves: I loathe baseless entitlement and possessive boyfriends who glare at you if you even walk past their girlfriend.  And anyone who encourages idiocy in idiots.  And don't get me started on those young-earthers.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I've become a burgeoning foodie in my old age, and have been expanding my palate as of late.  Nothing specific comes to mind, though.  I love pretty much anything Italian.  I'm obsessed with cheese.
Least favorite?  I just cannot deal with guacamole.  At all.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“We fall from womb to tomb, from one blackness and toward another, remembering little of the one and knowing nothing of the other ... except through faith.” - Stephen King

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Discovering the opposite sex.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Discovering the opposite sex.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Oh, yeah. At least three times. Maybe four.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Not proud of it, but yes.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I haven't done it yet.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Ignoring my depression for as long as I did.  As a young man I romanticized it, and flippantly dismissed those who offered me help.  As I got older, it got worse.  And then one day it hit me like a fist to the throat, and I completely broke down.  It took me years to recover from that.  While I know it would never have been preventable, I do know I could have handled it better if I'd let myself learn how to handle when I was younger.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
If I told you, and then something did happen to that person, not only would I become the prime suspect, I would also have given the investigators a motive to hang me on.
I’ve been getting that dodge a fair amount these days so I think I’m going to pull that question from the questionnaire.

What do you do?
I am a writer and filmmaker.  For the past several years, my emphasis has been on writing and directing movies, but lately I've decided to devote more attention to fiction writing.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I've loved to read all my life.  At some point when I was in junior high, I just straight up decided I wanted to write books.  I wrote my first novel when I was 14.  A whopping 100-page epic!  I discovered film-making a few years later, in high school.  My friends and I had video cameras, so we'd spend our weekends making movies in our backyards.  Since that time, I've never thought of doing anything else.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
If you have the ambition, then do it.  Don't hesitate.  Don't wait until tomorrow.  Do it now, and give every ounce of your talent, passion, and energy to it.  Do NOT be passive in your ambitions.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I have written and directed the acclaimed short films "Clean Break", "Down to Sleep", "Abed" (based on the controversial short story by Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Elizabeth Massie, and produced by the late Fangoria scribe and novelist Philip Nutman), and "Remotion: Prologue", along with a pair of videos for the synthpop band Alexis.  In 2010, I was brought in as a cowriter on "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption" for director Ryan Thompson, and starring Fred Williamson.  I have also written the screenplays "Aeon: The Last Vampyre on Earth", "Devils in the Darkness", and "An Anti-American" for director Daniel E. Falicki, released through Chemical Burn Entertainment.

What projects are you working on now?
Currently, I am in production on a feature film called “Remotion”.  We are shooting what we can right now, with no money, and are trying to raise funds to complete it over the summer of 2015 (knock on wood).  I am also writing a series of films for Lighthouse Pictures (who is also producing and distributing “Remotion”).  On the writing side of things, I am working on several short stories, a novel, and outlining a couple of future screenplays.

What are you watching?
I'll pretty much watch anything.  Currently, I'm trying to get through all the TCM movies I have clogging my DVR.

What are you listening to?
When driving, I listen to NPR.  Unfortunately, I lost 90% percent of my music collection when my external hard drive was damaged.  So I've been bereft music for the last year or so.  Sucks.  So much for the joys of non-physical media.
You have to regularly back everything up, and back up your back ups.  It’s a nuisance, but you’ll be glad you did if you have another device shit the bed.
Yeah, I definitely learned my lesson on that one. 

What are you reading?
I generally read three or four books at a time, and, as with movies, my tastes are all over the map.  Currently, I'm reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography, Total Recall

Favorite author / book?
My favorite books are It by Stephen King, Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding. My favorite authors are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Kathe Koja, Brian Hodge, Whitley Strieber, Herman Hesse, Clive Barker. The list could go on, I'll just stop there.

Favorite band / song?
My favorite band is Joy Division.  I couldn't tell you a favorite song, though.  It depends on my mood, where I'm at, how many beers I've had...

Least favorite band / song?
I dislike a lot of bands/musicians.  But I will tell you this: I absolutely fucking HATE that “No Rain” song by Blind Melon. And “Come On, Eileen”, “Love Shack”, and “Don't Stop Believing” can all fuck off, too.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Honestly, either an archaeologist, or an astronaut.  I'm fascinated by ancient history and space.  But, I'm not patient enough for the former, nor smart enough for the latter.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
God, who is all three, depending on who you ask.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best job? Totally the one-hour photo lab I used to work at with brother, back in the late 90s.
Worst?  I worked for one whole day at an ink factory.  It was awful.  It took me months to scrub all the ink off my hands.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
A couple of filmmakers/collaborators: Jason Roth and Tom Ashton
Point them in my direction and we’ll see where it goes.

Got any questions for me?
Why do YOU like to write? And why do you like doing these interviews?
I like to write because I like to think that it’s something that I’m good at, that comes easily to me, that other people find difficult or impossible to do.  I used to be a voracious reader, and after reading a few thousand books, I read a few that I wished had ended differently.  I realized that was the author’s job and since I had the opinion that the story would have ended better differently, I started to write my own stories.  That’s not entirely the truth, but the truth is long and boring and self-indulgent.
As for why I like doing these interviews, I wouldn’t say I like doing them.  I would instead say that I like being able to give people the opportunity to promote themselves and the projects they’re working on and to be able to get to know some of my internet acquaintances a bit better.
Well, I for one appreciate that you're doing it.  You don't have to do it, but you do, and I think that's a rare commodity in people these days.  Especially in this business.  I'd be happy to help you on any projects I can.  You only need to say the word.  Thank you for allowing me the chance to do this! 

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Facebook: My personal Facebook:
My production company:
The feature I'm currently shooting:
“Remotion: Prologue” trailer -
“Abed” trailer -
“Down to Sleep” trailer -
My short film “Remotion: Prologue”, available to watch for free:

About the Interviewee:
Ryan Lieske is a screenwriter, director, potential novelist, occasional short story writer, and freelance curiosity-seeker. He writes stuff. Sometimes he makes that stuff into movies. Sometimes he just lets it stay on the page. He like reading books, indiscriminately. Same with movies. He never lies, but sometimes he invents the truth. His three obsessions are Death, God, and Sex. He eats meat, despite feeling mildly guilty about it. He loves his cats. He loves collecting actual books and movies, not digital ones. Physically he's in his 40s, mentally he's in his 70s, and emotionally he's in his 20s. He doesn't sleep well at night.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at: 

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