Friday, 29 November 2019

In The Spotlight With: Shaun Rylee



This month we welcome Filmmaker Shaun Rylee as our Spotlight Guest at Into The Script.

In The Spotlight is an interview series where we showcase once a month one of our many talented readers of Into The Script!

Shaun Rylee is an actress, screenwriter and filmmaker and has starred in some of the most well known shows such as Mad Men, Community, Masters of Sex and How I Met Your Mother. 

So, if you'd like to hear more about her incredible experiences and tips check out her full interview below!




1. What inspired you to start working in the film industry? 

Photo Credit to Shaun Rylee

The very first movie I saw in a theater was “Bambi” when it recirculated and the first film I watched on tv was “Wizard of Oz.” Both left me in awe. There’s something magical about being in a movie theater and seeing something onscreen that took a lot of thought and time to create and I think that also translated well for “Wizard of Oz” on the small screen because it’s timeless. I loved the inspiration I felt watching both of those things so young and knew right away that I wanted to make films. 

2. Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!


I am so excited to be turning my screenplay “Better.” into an independent feature film. It is drawn from very personal things that have happened in my life and experiences with others and I finally felt confident enough to put myself out there with this story. It deals with how childhood experiences shape the adults we become, and also how people are deserving of love and being loved, despite what we may perceive as major setbacks on the development of our emotional well-being. 

The main character has gone through some very traumatic things in his past and lost everyone he loved. This manifests in continuing night terrors. He isn’t sure how to trust or love people because the night terrors keep taking him back to that dark time. This has followed him into adult- hood, where he has become complacent with life, until he meets a girl that has the missing pieces to where he lacks emotionally. He in turn does the same for her. It’s very much a character-centric story that hopefully hits people right in the heart. People that have read the screenplay really like the characters and want to know where they are “now” and that makes me feel like I really did my job as a storyteller. I have achieved some of my milestones in film festivals with just the screenplay and in- tend to keep the momentum going with it onscreen. 

3. What 3 things spark your creativity the most? 


Meditation, life experience and my dreams all play a huge part in what inspires me creatively. Meditating helps my mind zone in on the important aspects of my creativity and I do it daily to take a step back and re- group. My life often feels like it unfolds cinematically and I learn some- thing from all of my experiences. 

I also have a pretty awesome skill of dreaming in full screenplays and have refined my lucid dreaming abilities. My dreams take my life experiences and flip them into linked scenarios and I use this in my writing. That is how “Better.” came about. My dreams found a way to remember not only the vivid incidents but to also remind me of the lessons learned from them. 

4. If you could choose anyone, who would you most love to work with one day? 

Photo Credit to Shaun Rylee

I would love to work with Gethin Anthony, Daniel Webber and Michael Angarano. I think all three are phenomenal acting talents who have worked on big projects but still manage to fly a bit under the radar, which I like. It gives them that certain something where you know them as actors, as opposed to public figures. They seem to choose projects that allow their acting skills to grow and turn out flawless performances as a result. They have each inspired screenplays I have written, based on characters I think they could elevate to a whole new level. 

I would also like to work someday with Ava DuVernay, Chloe Zhao, Brit Marling and Sam Taylor Johnson, or even just watch them work on sets to learn from them. They’re all great representations of amazing, talented filmmakers who happen to be women. They inspire all of the parts of filmmaking that I hope to tap into. 

5. Do you have a genre you’re most passionate about or do you like to do a bit of everything? 


I definitely gravitate toward drama the most. I think so many intricate stories have their place in this genre. It’s always fun to peel back the layers of a deep story with a strong impact. There’s nothing like the fulfilment I get watching a great drama unfold. 

I also enjoy the horror genre, which I think has the same capabilities but plays more on your psyche and really taps into your fears and overcoming them. I have been asked to direct a horror film so I’m excited for that opportunity when “Better.” wraps. You learn the most about yourself on a set when you have to work on a cold night shoot outdoors! 

6. What films have been the most influential to you and why? 


I have major love for independent film, where people often get their start and really hit a stride with their individual style. “Hurricane Streets” and “Copenhagen” are flawless to me because they focus on the characters driving the story. I’ve always been interested in how characters organically grow in 90 minutes. I think Morgan J Freeman and Mark Raso have perfected this in their writing and directing. 

I feel the same way about “Nowhere Boy,” which was an adaptation. These films all have natural performances from talented actors and you can see the hard work the directors, cast and crew all put in. They’re very clean visually, which allows the characters and stories to breathe onscreen. I also love how all these films end. They very much fit within my own style. 

7. Is there any advice you would like to give to people who want to start working in the industry but are being held back by something? 

Photo Credit to Shaun Rylee

If you have the dream and the drive to do something in the industry, put in the work. 

Read as many filmmaking books and screenplays as possible, write screenplays, take classes, film things and just utilize everything you can to learn about the industry and make a plan. I’ve been doing those things since I was in 4th grade. I continue to learn every day. Use any fears you may have that hold you back and turn them into the inspiration you need to conquer them. 

Going to school for film helped me to solidify that this is what I wanted to do but that isn’t necessary these days. You just have to hone in on your pas- sion and not be afraid to also try screenwriting, even if you want to be an actor, or directing, even if you really want to be the person operating the camera. It all goes together and you learn to appreciate how much work everyone puts into their craft. Just don’t be your worst enemy by staying in your head and not putting yourself out there. 


For example, screenwriting is something I always thought I would naturally fall into but it wasn’t something I necessarily strived to do, if that makes sense. I thought I would be an actor and a director but screenwriting really helps me understand building a story from the ground up and I like both the freedom and control it allows me to have. 

I am working on five different projects right now and one of them is a tv pilot called “Every Day People” that my talented friend PaulMichael approached me about. Having a hand in so many different things at once means I am not limiting myself, which is something that’s also very important for people feeling held back. 

Do all of the things and really commit yourself to them. All of my free time is spent working on projects so you have to really be focused and driven. Allow yourself the time you need to grow but keep going. Do something every day that aligns with your dreams in this industry.
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