Ryan Gibb is the director of
FROM THE ASH
Image by Bruno Long
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into filmmakinng.
My passion for filmmaking started with action sports. As an athlete, I was able to observe the filmmaking process and I became hooked. I decided to go to film school and upon graduation I combined my two passions, mountain biking and filmmaking, and made the film Life Cycles. Life Cycles went on to garner multiple awards and is the starting point for my career. Currently I spend a lot of my professional time directing commercials. I have an affinity towards capturing action with strong visuals and I am currently starting to branch out into more narrative structures.
Personally, I am married to an amazing woman and have three kids. We live a little bit of a nomadic lifestyle and have spent the last 4 years traveling the world pursuing our passion for the outdoors.
Q: Who or what inspires you in your craft?
With as much content as I consume these days sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where I find my inspiration from. What I can tell you is how I tap into my own inspiration. Music is a big part of my creative process. I put on a genre of music for the mood I’m hoping to achieve and then go on a long mundane bike ride. This allows my mind to push past the white noise and opens up a space for me to explore current interests and it is where I have the majority of my creative breakthroughs.
"Even though the underlying theme of this project is about perseverance, at the forefront is the destructive power of wildfires"
Q: Tell us about your film, what its themes mean to you and what you hope others take away from it.
When shooting action sports I always try to inject a broader theme, something that connects deeper then what the athlete is doing on the surface. For me the core of this project revolves around the idea of pushing forward when the world seemingly crumbles around you. That even when the road ahead may look bleak, to push on, to put one foot in front of the other. Charles Bukowski has this quote I like, “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire”.
2020 was one of those years that has shown that a lot of hardships in life are often events that are totally out of our control, that the only real control we have is how to decide to pick up the pieces, how we carry on through hardship. In a weird sense of irony, the struggles of making From The Ash, made me truly practice what I am preaching. We had multiple struggles with weather forcing expensive reshoots and as we went into post production the pandemic hit. This caused a major sponsor to dropout as their factory had to close due to COVID and left me to personally finance a large part of the project while also under the financial distress of not working due to COVID. There were so many times the completion of this project literally hung on by a thread and often I wondered if it was really worth it to push past the obstacles and complete it. Ultimately the answer is “yes it was worth it”. The struggle of making this film has made me grow in ways that in the end has helped me become better at my craft.
Q: Are there any causes that your film is inspired by?
Many years ago I was filming in a forest that had recently been scorched by a wildfire. As we were filming, a low fog rolled in and enveloped the forest. It was one of the most haunting and striking scenes I had ever seen. There was something so graphic about seeing these blackened trees silhouetted against this cold monochromatic backdrop. It stuck with me, for a lack of a better word I was haunted by it and always wanted to recreate the feeling it gave me, 15 years later I was in New Mexico to film From the Ash. Even though the underlying theme of this project is about perseverance, at the forefront is the destructive power of wildfires.
My house is located in a place that is in constant threat of wildfires and some of my favorite places to visit have been destroyed by wildfires over the last 5 years. California had a record breaking fire season this last year and it is becoming very evident that climate change is making wildfires a much more common occurrence. This is going to be something that plagues us for many years to come, I took a 7 hour detour on a road trip a few months ago because I wanted my kids to see the Redwoods. It was done under the pretense that we should do this “just incase”. With this project, my intentions have never been to make light of wildfires or be insensitive to those who’ve lost everything because of a wildfire. The idea of tackling climate change can feel so hopeless sometimes and for me this project is about representing a ray of hope in what occasionally can feel like a bleak future. Through researching for this project, this is a topic that has become very near and dear to my heart. Knowing that we were going to be lighting fires and emitting CO2 we did what we could to reduce the impact of this shoot. This ranged from deciding to build all the jumps by hand instead of using machinery, purchasing carbon credits to offset the CO2 released during the shoot, and donating to multiple wildfire relief funds.
Q: What's next for you?
I am currently in the process of working on three personal projects. One is an anti-bullying short film, one is a fun little short narrative experiment, and one is highly stylized short film like "From the Ash" about my wife becoming a professional freeride mountain biker later in life.