RYAN MEKENIAN

Armenian-American  writer/director  Ryan  Henry  Mekenian  was  born  and  raised  in  Whittier, California. As a boy, he would carry around his mother’s camera, shooting everything in sight. But it wasn’t until attending the Orange County School of  the Arts (or, OCSA) and Francis Ford Coppola served as a guest director that Ryan learned what he wanted to do with the rest of  his life.  At  16,  he  went  door-to-door  raising  ten  thousand  dollars  to  produce  his  first  play.  The production sold  out  its  entire  run  of  performances,  and  Ryan  was  offered his  first  professional directing job on its opening night. Later that year, he became the first student director in OCSA’s history  with  the  California  premiere  of   the  musical  Parade.  The  production  was  a  success  and subsequently led to the school’s formation of  a directing curriculum.  

 

Ryan’s passion for directing led him east when he was accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of  the  Arts. At  N.Y.U.,  he  studied  under Tony-winning  director Rachel Chavkin at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School, concentrating on production design and creating original work. During his freshman year, he was hired as a production assistant for the Broadway play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks starring Mark Hamill. It was during this time that Ryan reached out to legendary director Harold Prince; Hal took Ryan under his wing as a mentee and also hired him as an assistant. Later, Ryan assisted on Aaron Sorkin’s The Farnsworth Invention produced by Steven Spielberg,  the  Tony-nominated  revival  of   Jesus  Christ  Superstar,  The  24  Hour  Plays  with  Jennifer Aniston and Sam Rockwell, and the final two seasons of  Law and Order.

 

Ryan’s love of  storytelling had started with his mom’s camera though, and his goal had always been to make films. So when he was accepted to the University of  Southern California’s School of  Cinematic Arts, Ryan headed west to complete his studies and harness the craft of  filmmaking.  

 

Ryan directed Spokespeople, winning Best Documentary Short First Prize at the Oscar-qualifying Flickers’  Rhode  Island  International  Film  Festival.  The  doc  garnered  additional  awards at the Virginia  Dares  Cinematic  Arts  Awards  for  Decolonizing/Re-Indigenizing  Media  and  at  the Better Cities Film  Festival, as well as  screened  as  an  Official  Selection  at  the  Oscar-Qualifying Edmonton  International  Film  Festival  and  the  BAFTA-Qualifying  Bolton  International  Film Festival. Another short film, The American Ambassador, premiered at the Prague Independent Film Festival.  Ryan’s  goal  is  to  direct  the  kind  of   films  that  inspired  him  as  a  child  —  Comedies, Dramas, and True Stories that convey honest, complex portrayals of  the American dream.