Scott Ryan, Author of The Last Decade of Cinema

Q. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I don’t think it was something that I realized. I wrote my first book when I was nine and the neighbor girl broke my heart. It was five chapters on three pages and had just about the same amount of grammar and spelling mistakes as my rough drafts do today.

Q. Why did you decide on this story to tell?

A.During Covid, I was struggling to find any new movies to watch that interested me at all. I ended up watching Penny Marshall’s Awakening starring Robin Williiams and Robert Deniro. It was so well done, took its time to get started, and developed such wonderful characters. It started me on a path to watching movies from the nineties. Before I knew it, I had a spreadsheet going and I ended up watching 160 films. I just had to write about that experience.

Q. What would you say is the most interesting quirk of your book?

A. Probably the thing that is always quirky about my books is how I go from being analytical and deep into a joke, in a second. I like to make readers wonder if I am stable at all. I love movies and television shows that drop humor in the most unpredictable ways, and I tried to write these essays with that same feeling. I like a movie that makes you laugh and cry. I am not sure my book will make you cry, but it will make you laugh

Q. Where do you get your ideas for your book?

A. I purchase them on eBay. No, I send away for them from overseas. Maybe they come from Mars? Heck if I know where they come from. I usually get an idea a day about something crazy thing. When they won’t go away for a while, then I know I have to write about them. But I always hope they just fade away. It is much easier to forget ideas than to follow through on them. 

Q. What do you think makes a good story?

A.A good story should be original, come from the writer, and be completely honest. When a writer tells something from the truth, it doesn’t matter if it’s a story we’ve read a million times, it will be interesting because each of us has our own perspective. Or as Stephen Sondheim says, “Anything you do, let it come from you, then it will be new.”

Q. What part of the book was the most fun to write?

A.Well it was an honor to write about The Prince of Tides, The Cider House Rules and The Ice Storm. They are all movies that I love so much and I don’t feel like they get the attention they deserve. I like pointing out to readers why they should take a look at these forgotten dramas and why films like this teach us how to empathize with strangers. It is good to see how others live their life and to learn to not expect everyone to behave just like we would. I also think my introduction to the book is the longest thing I have ever written. I really lay it all out on the line. If a reader is on my side at the end of that Intro, they are gonna love the book.

Q. What is the most valuable lesson from your book for readers?

A. That if we let art slip out of the hands of grown-ups and only create movies for children and teenagers that the human experience in film will be gone for good. Difficult, complicated art doesn’t have to feel like homework. It can inspire us and teach us to be better people. I hope readers will maybe put their phones down for a second and lose themselves in a movie for an evening.

Q. What is your favorite excerpt from your book?

A.I got to interview one of my writing heroes, Helen Childress. She wrote Reality Bites and that movie always meant the world to me. It is really the only true film about Generation X, which I am a part of. During the interview, we ended up talking about our shared favorite movie, Broadcast News. The two of us quoted the film and even sang the song Albert Brooks sings while he watches the news. That might just be the greatest moment of my entire life. Sorry kids.

To find out more about Scott Ryan go to his website or to pre-order his book click here

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