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.