Interview with Marja Lewis Ryan

Very few first-time filmmakers get to see their work in front of more than a few friends or family members, let alone the elite crowds that grace the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals, but that’s exactly what Marja Lewis Ryan, writer, co-producer and co-star of The Four-Faced Liar has just experienced.

Just after the mania of Sundance 2010, the newcomer to the silver screen (and self-proclaimed “theater kid”) talked to us about the film and the festival experience from the other side of the aisle. So how was the experience, going to Sundance and Slamdance?
Marja Lewis Ryan: It was unbelievable. We were talking about it — I don’t know what we were expecting necessarily, but anything that we thought was going to happen — happened ten times over [laughs]. We had this publicist, Jim Dobson — he did the publicity for Buried with Ryan Reynolds. So basically, everywhere that Ryan was asked to go, we were escorted carefully behind him. We got to do things we’d never be able to do in any other circumstance. It was just really fun!

AE: What kinds of things?
MLR: We got taken over to the Sundance tents, where we got our pictures taken by a ton of different media outlets, we got to go to the Variety party on Sunday night.

AE: Sounds awesome, how was it?
MLR: It was really, really fun. They gave an award to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who, ironically enough, had taught a master class with us a couple of years back, so we got to talk to him afterward. He’s incredibly humble and so nice and just excited that a new generation of theater kids out of New York were doing what he and his friends had done ten or twelve years ago. It was really awesome.

AE: So, was this your first Sundance as a filmmaker?
MLR: Oh yeah. We’ve never done anything like this before — we’re theater kids, we’d never acted in a film, I had never written a film, I’d never been to a film fest before. Well, I went to Outfest last year, to watch movies, but I’ve never been invited as anything other than a spectator.

AE: How is it on the other side?
MLR: How is it… it’s flattering and overwhelming and really humbling, I think. We had sort of been living in this bubble with about nine people, between the producer and the director and the cinematographer — and you kind of forget that other people do this all the time, and we [had] a shared experience with [the other filmmakers]. It was just really humbling. It was the best week of my life. I don’t know what else could come even close.