Helping talented filmmakers build audiences around the world since 2001 Learn More
Mike Ryan Leaves Legacy at YoungCuts
Mike left his family, friends and young filmmakers far too soon.
Mike left us abruptly this week at the young age of 46 years old, his unexpected death underlining the fragility of life. I was Mike's boss at YoungCuts the past six years. During this time, I gained a deep appreciation for Mike's character and personality.
Yesterday, I was not surprised to see Mike's Facebook page filling up quickly with tributes to him and the personal observations of the many people he touched during his life. At YoungCuts, of course, our filmmakers came to know Mike as our Festival Director whose passion for developing young filmmakers was palpable. Many of these filmmakers would be surprised to learn that, outside of YoungCuts, Mike was very active in the world of professional wrestling. I always found this anomaly amusing, and I'm sure that Mike would laconically say that “entertainment is entertainment”.
The YoungCuts Film Festival has a relatively long history, that began in 2001. I took over the Film Festival in 2004, and have had the pleasure of working alongside three festival directors since then. All have been passionate about the work of young filmmakers. To be good at this job, you must have passion for the work. Mike was great with the young filmmakers.
During the first years of Mike's tenure, each year the film Festival production deadline would draw near, and I would become frustrated that Mike was not closing our screenings and going to final production. Over time, I came to appreciate the fact that Mike just wanted to make sure that Festival-selected filmmakers were able to deliver the perfect film file for the screening. Often, this caused Mike to work exceptionally long hours in the weeks preceding the event, as he accommodated the perfectionist, and sometimes procrastinating slowpokes. Mike never complained and was never satisfied until each filmmaker had been given the maximum opportunity to deliver the best film.
This was the hallmark of Mike's work at YoungCuts. Over the years, he touched thousands of filmmakers in sometimes small and sometimes significant ways. Mike had a flair for encouraging others and imploring them to do their best.
At YoungCuts, Mike successfully led a number of important initiatives for the company. Recently, Mike led our migration from the WithoutaBox festival platform to our own proprietary submission processing system. Also in 2012, Mike was the driving force in setting up our new content management and customer relationship systems. These systems have been instrumental in helping the company work with filmmakers and continue to grow.
Of course, Mike had many other gifts that others have described in postings at Facebook. Mike’s voracious reading habits were the foundation of his strong writing and conversational skills. He was amazingly patient with his co-workers and he was a team player. But, most of all, he was a kind man with good values. We will miss you Mike.
April 26, 2013