Ryan J. Smith, a talented young filmmaker from Blackpool, has garnered international attention and global distribution for his films, defying industry norms and budget limitations. His debut feature, Lottery, received praise from American filmmaking outlet Film Threat, which commended Smith for creating a film on par with those produced by major studios. His latest work, Talking To Ghosts, is described as a finely crafted thriller disguised as a drama. Both films were made with a modest budget, a fraction of what is typically spent on a single mainstream television episode. Smith’s innovative filmmaking has now reached audiences worldwide through streaming services.
Reflecting on his journey, Ryan J. Smith encourages aspiring filmmakers, stating, “I hope others looking to enter the world of filmmaking see what I’m accomplishing and realize that they can do it too. Making movies and sharing them with the world has never been easier or more affordable, just as it is with any form of art. Lottery and Talking To Ghosts were each made for around £7000, funds raised independently through various day jobs. The success of these films on streaming platforms has allowed me to dedicate myself full-time to filmmaking. Nothing is impossible in today’s world.”
Talking To Ghosts features a talented cast, including theatre prodigy Nina Holland-Smith, Skint Film Company veteran Neizan Fernandez, and Grahame Edwards, known for his role in The Dark Knight. The film follows a young woman caught in the midst of a black market arms deal gone awry, ultimately unraveling as a love story. Smith explains, “The initial concept was a revenge film driven by aggression, but it evolved into a more hopeful movie as the story progressed. I began seeking vengeance, but found healing in the end. It’s a raw film, undoubtedly the most emotionally complex story I’ve told.”
Nina Holland-Smith, the star of Talking To Ghosts, shared her experience working with Ryan J. Smith: “Collaborating with Ryan was fantastic. He has a clear vision and knows how to bring it to life. He works tirelessly! On set, he created a relaxed atmosphere, and we all had fun filming as a cast and crew. Although the film delves into dark themes, we found moments of lightness and enjoyed laughter and a cup of tea together.”
At just 25 years old, Ryan J. Smith runs his own studio, the Skint Film Company, responsible for the development, production, and global distribution of his movies. He collaborates with his friends Adam Bentley (visual effects), Alisdair Pickering (music), Lewis William Robinson (sound recordist), and Meredith Grace (production designer). However, Smith aims to expand the studio and create more opportunities for emerging talent, saying, “The goal is to continuously grow the studio and productions, providing chances for undiscovered talents who might not otherwise have creative opportunities.”
Fylde coast actor Harry Mclafferty, who appeared in both Lottery and Talking To Ghosts, commends Smith’s projects, stating, “Working on set is always a great laugh. The atmosphere is comfortable and exciting, which is impressive considering the demanding filming schedules. Despite the small team and limited budgets, Ryan consistently produces impressive work that I’m proud to be a part of as an actor.”
Filmed across the Fylde Coast in November 2022, Talking To Ghosts showcases a range of unique Northern locations that have not been featured in cinema before. Smith explains his drive to put the Fylde Coast on the filmmaking map, stating, “I’ve always enjoyed being the first filmmaker to explore certain areas and leave my mark. It has become somewhat of a personal mission to shine a spotlight on the Fylde Coast in the world of filmmaking.”
The Skint Film Company shows no signs of slowing down, with a full slate of feature entertainment planned for 2024 and beyond. Smith teases an upcoming ambitious project, a family-accessible comedy-drama that will delve into multiple characters and locations, presenting new challenges for him as a filmmaker. Despite the anticipated demands, Smith expresses his readiness for the endeavor.
Ryan J. Smith’s debut feature film Lottery and his latest work Talking To Ghosts are currently available on digital platforms.