Favourite Local Filmmaker

Ryan Steel

Ryan Steel has had a really busy year.

“I’m doing ... a trilogy of documentaries about the ghosts of Winnipeg,” the University of Winnipeg student says.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

“Earlier this year, I made a documentary about Winnipeg Transit, about the ghosts that live on the bus. This summer, there was a 48-hour film contest through the Winnipeg Film Group, and I made a documentary about the Nygård billboards that were up.

“Now I’m just finishing a documentary about Portage Place mall. They’re all personal, POV. They’re not like traditional documentaries. There’s no talking heads. I do a lot of stuff on film.”

Steel’s film The Birdwatcher won best film at the University of Winnipeg Film Festival. The filmmaker helped start a pop-up movie theatre at Forth called The Laundry Room that presented experimental films by Winnipeg artists. Steel also made music videos for local bands Living Hour and Urban Vacation. He started writing a new narrative film.

“I’ve been busy for the last couple years, but it’s all caught up now,” he says.

“Things are starting to be released and happen.”

Steel began his journey with cinema, particularly Winnipeg experimental film, at a young age.

“I started coming to the Winnipeg Film Group when I was about 12 years old,” he says.

“I’m really influenced by the history of independent and art cinema from Manitoba. My biggest influences would be local filmmakers like Matt(hew) Rankin, Mike Maryniuk, Leslie Supnet, Rhayne Vermette, Guy Maddin I guess, John Paizs.”

As he finishes his film degree, Steel is excited to explore what’s next. As he’s about to complete his documentary trilogy, he says his curiosity is shifting toward narrative filmmaking with an arthouse twist.

“I like experimental or formalist films, but I’m interested in the narrative possibility within that,” Steel says.

“How do you put more narrative into experimental stuff?”

Steel’s future answers to this query will be available on his Vimeo account, along with his previous work.

Published in Volume 73, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 29, 2018)

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