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Quirky and Camera-Eyed || Features

The word film might be permanently bonded to the end of Ryan Hutchins’ name. In fact, he’s probably filming something at this very moment. And if he’s not, he’s trying to find an old beat up car to set on fire in a short film or applying for a grant to shoot footage somewhere in Beverly Hills.

“Film is my first passion and always will be,” he said. At 22-years-old, Hutchins is a storyteller. He gives life to people, places, and events that are important to him. “I make movies because it is the culmination of everything in life that I love. Human interaction, magic, writing, photography, storytelling, building, designing, expressing emotions, and music. Is there another art form that has such flexibility?”

Cheviot Hills, a beautiful neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, is home for Hutchins and his filmmaking. While it’s an ideal spot to thrive creatively, he described it best as ‘loneliness.’

“There is this idea that all of these artists in LA are alone together, because we were misfits from where we came,” he said. So maybe he’s a misfit, similar to one of his role models, Edward Scissorhands. He believes it’s his struggles that give him strength as an artist.

“In a world where our differences are often perceived negatively, Edward Scissorhands struggles to see the beauty of what everyone around him calls a disability. Yet it’s what allows him to sculpt beautiful works of art and express himself in a way that nobody else can,” Hutchins said.

On the verge of starting a life and career with film at a four-year university, Hutchins had his eyes set on one school: New York University (NYU). But the prestigious university overlooked his creative abilities. “I wanted to go to NYU so bad. I was crushed when I didn’t get it. Just crushed.” But Hutchins wasn’t walking away that easily. About two years later, he shot and edited a remarkable music video staring his friend Cari (ironically, a student at NYU) and her friends covering Rihanna’s song ‘Diamonds.’ From their bedroom studio to the graffiti covered streets of New York, the student vocalists were captured in a musical mash up masterpiece. Hutchins’ video went viral and was featured on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and

“The best moment was when I was asked by NYU if the video could play on the jumbotron at Yankee Stadium during the commencement ceremony. So in May of 2012, there I was, in Yankee Stadium, watching my work play before thousands of NYU students,” Hutchins beamed. “I considered it my honorary acceptance to NYU.” His work even allowed him to meet Rihanna.

Nothing ever stopped Hutchins. His eyes drooped, fixated on a computer screen until 2 o’clock in the morning, editing video clips, and still making it to middle school the next day. “You have to stop working,” his mother would urge. As a novice cinematographer, he began creating films with his friends and uploading them to YouTube as a kid. His archives consist of “Gum Chewers Anonymous,” a comedic short about his friends and their addiction to gum chewing, and “Feel Really Really Really Bad For Us,” a trailer for a drama in which Hutchins unexpectedly falls in love with a mannequin.

“All the kids would come over on a weekend and do a mock news show. They would do goofy things,” his mom Lauri mentioned. But she never questioned their shenanigans, she enjoyed his humor. She quickly accepted that the camera was his childhood toy and storytelling was his way of expressing himself.

Over time, Hutchins developed his techniques and incorporated film into his life at school. His slender body, somehow supporting a bulky camera, scurried around every hallway corner packed with students slamming locker doors. He began creating pep week montages, high school football segments, and prom packages. “I did a comedy in high school and had 300 students come out to see it. Everyone was roaring with laughter and it was a greater feeling than any sex or drug I’ve had in my life.”

Pieter Ketelaar, Hutchins’ high school print journalism teacher, recognized his special gift. “It was evident early on that he was an unusual type of talent both in level and in discipline,” Ketelaar said. “He was already very much into film and he brought a lot of those story telling abilities to what we do.” Teachers were attracted to his work ethic and maturity. “He was the rare student that could have a conversation with an adult and converse on that level.”

But there was one defining moment for Hutchins that signified the start to a real filmmaking career. During his freshman year at Hofstra University, he produced “Too Shy,” a poignant short film describing the high school relationship between a boy and a girl in love who were just too shy. The film went viral in India with 1.8 million views and a 99 percent rating on YouTube.

“We did it in two days. I had no idea how these random clips were going to turn into something. But it was so beautiful and everyone really liked it,” Nina Gamgort, lead actress in “Too Shy” and one of Hutchins’ close friends, explained.

“[Hutchins] spontaneously came up to me in the hallway and asked me if I wanted to be in his movie,” Gamgort reflected, “I ended up doing it and that’s how we met.”

Following his freshman year, a producer on the West Coast hired Hutchins to create music videos. He was flown out to Los Angeles a week later. “It was like I’d hit the lottery. I could not believe what was happening,” Hutchins said. “I would have classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, take a red-eye flight Thursday night to LA, shoot music videos in LA Friday through Monday (14-16 hour days, too) and catch a red-eye flight back to JFK in time for class on Tuesday morning,”  he described as one of the most draining experiences during college. “I slept through all of my classes,” he confessed. Almost a year later, Hutchins dropped out of school and moved to California.

Despite his ongoing artistic pursuits, his inability to maintain a good routine affected his lifestyle. “His head is all over the place,” Gamgort said. But it’s Hutchins’ unusual qualities that make him a successful oddity. Now living on the West Coast, his differences are fitting in in a place where every day is a brand new experience.

“I want to keep advocating for causes that are important to me,” Hutchins said. “I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering my services to worthy people, places, and events in need of more attention. Most importantly, I want to advocate for human equality.” As Hutchins continues to glow in anomaly, he keeps faith in knowing that if Edward can thrive with scissors as hands, he too, can succeed with a camera lens as eyes.

PHOTO TAKEN from Ryan Hutchins’s Instagram