Ambassador // Julie Ryan: Producer
We caught up with Julie to find out more about her story.
Explain a little about yourself and the role you play in the creative communications industry, e.g. how did you start out in the industry and what has your journey been?
I grew up on a farm in Western Victoria, moved to Melbourne at 17 in the 80s, and ten years later went to Uni as a mature student to study a Bachelor of Arts at the Bendigo campus of LaTrobe. It was there I was introduced to film theory which ignited my interest in film and storytelling.
It wasn’t until I was 30 that I plucked up the courage to move to Adelaide with the hope that I could work with an interesting filmmaker who lived and worked there - Rolf de Heer. Within 6 months I was working as a production secretary on a feature film “The Sound Of One Hand Clapping” which was being produced by Rolf de Heer’s company Vertigo Productions.
After that first film experience, I joined Vertigo Productions as a full-time employee and for the next 5 years Rolf de Heer taught me how films were made. Looking back it was an extensive film school as we were always either financing, shooting, in post production or releasing a film every 2 years so the training was solid. After about 5 years I became producer and I think my first real feature as a producer was “The Tracker”.
I eventually produced five of Rolf de Heer’s films and worked at Vertigo for 10 years, I decided to set up my own company Cyan Films in 2007 mainly to expand my slate and explore different genres. I’ve gone on to produce a further ten films by developing my own slate such as “100 Bloody Acres” and “H is for Happiness” (releasing in 2020), plus I’ve partnered with Australian and international producers to make films such as “Hotel Mumbai” and “Red Dog”. Being able to both develop and partner has enabled my company to be sustainable.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The challenges have largely been financial as it takes time to develop projects and producers aren’t paid for their development time (we are only paid once a project is in pre-production and that can take up to 5 years). Sometimes the bank has run close to dry but I’ve always managed to top it up at the right time and stay in the industry.
What advice would give to someone just starting out in the industry, particularly young women entering the creative community?
It’s important to do your research on the industry. If I was starting out now I’d probably lean towards television rather than feature films as it’s getting harder to finance films and the world is now watching and binging series content on streaming platforms.
Also learn from experienced people and hopefully you’ll find yourself a number of people willing to mentor you and teach you along the way. When I look back I had four mentors: one who taught me production; one for film festivals, one for finance and legals, and one for distribution and sales.
How do you believe the industry could be more accommodating to women?
I think the industry has changed from when I started - it was heavily male dominated back then so you had to be tough to survive. But most of the producers I now know are women and we have great female directors working now, especially in television series. There are also better policies around bullying and sexual harassment which is very helpful.