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Filmmaker brings his work home to Silverdale
When Ryan Wise was a kid growing up in Holly, he often had a camera in his hand. He and his stepbrother, Al Higbee, were known to family and friends for their comedies.
“We’d write comedy sketches about kids fighting…in a funny way,” he said. “Then we’d act it out with our friends and film it. We’d film all kinds of stuff.”
So it’s no wonder that the 1995 graduate of Central Kitsap High School is having success in making movies. As a writer, producer and editor, Wise has worked on commercials, television shows, and feature films.
And his most recent work as editor of the film, “Why We Ride,” will be highlighted at a special screening of the film in Silverdale on Feb. 3.
“The company making the movie needed an editor and someone suggested me,” he said. “I took the job because I love to ride motorcycles.”
The film is considered a feature-length film, about 90 minutes in length, and takes a documentary approach to riding motorcycles. Produced by Gnarlynow Entertainment and Walking West Entertainment, Wise was eager to work with them because he knew some of the others working on the film.
“I knew the passions of the directors and the writers,” he said. “I knew the film would be shot well and would look good on the big screen.”
The film takes a look at why people ride motorcycles, not just those who are known for their riding skills, but the “average Joes,” Wise said.
“Anybody can relate to this film,” he said. “It looks at the history of riding and talks about the big names — like race champion Ed “Iron Man” Kretz. But it also talks to just regular people who like to ride for fun.”
The film challenges the misconception that all motorcyclists are “outlaw bikers,” according to the film’s website. It looks at those who ride, of which the vast majority are recreational, riding as a pastime or sport.
Wise enjoyed meeting Kretz, who was a national competitor in the 1950s and 1960s.
“I actually got to go to Denver to help with the sound during the interviews of Kretz’s son, Ed Jr.,” Wise said. “We did interviews with him and his sister, (Donna Jean Kretz) in their home.”
He also went along to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, in August 2012 where part of the film was shot. He also traveled to Las Vegas and the East Coast where he did sound work.
In all, the movie took just under a year to film, with another couple of months in production. That was when Wise’s real work got underway, editing all the film that had been shot, doing the sound mixing, and coming up with the final film.
“Why We Ride” premiered last November at the Academy of Arts and Sciences theater in Los Angeles. About 500 people attended.
“It was pretty neat,” Wise said. “It was a pretty big deal.”
Since then, the film has been showed in movie theaters throughout the U.S. and is available on DVD. It’s an independently financed movie without any sponsorships to “ensure the creative integrity of the documentary,” without any favoritism given to anyone in the motorcycle industry, according to the film’s website.
Editing the film was very technical, Wise said.
“It was shot on big files with cameras with hard drives,” he said. “All that has to be put on hard drives that are connected to all the editing bays. It’s complicated to keep it all organized.”
A group of assistant editors help with that organization, so that when Wise came to work, everything was ready for him to begin the editing process.
In his world, there is no film on the cutting room floor.
In fact, for his entire career, he’s only worked with digital equipment. Even the first movie camera he bought at a pawn shop when he was 16 was digital.
“I think my parents had some cameras that were film that I used, but not much,” he said.
After high school, Wise attended Evergreen College in Olympia and then moved to Los Angeles in 2001. He found it hard to break into the business. His car was stolen and then set on fire.
“I just kept going forward because I love making movies. I pushed myself to keep going.”
He was able to get his first few jobs editing commercials and then got a job editing a feature film for HBO, “Last Best Chance.”
“They knew I could do a feature-length film because I’d done one on my own,” he said. “Back when I was in college, my stepbrother and I had made a film that was feature length.”
That film, “Mafia Bus Boys,” was shot in Bremerton and was a story of two bus boys who worked in a restaurant owned by a mob boss, Wise said.
“They thought they were part of the mob and that they were going to have to make a hit, but it was really a fake hilarious hit.”
Wise also has to his credit awarding-winning documentaries “Green Rush,” and “Blood, Sweat and Gears.” He co-founded the film company, Big Fantastic and edited the Emmy-nominated series “Prom Queen” and “Sam Has 7 Friends.”
Wise, who was recently married, is looking forward to being in Silverdale in February. He still has family in the area and plans to stay a couple of days. He will answer questions after the film is shown.
And then it’s back to LA to find more editing jobs — his bread and butter so the can afford to work on his own film titled, “I am Thor,” a documentary about a 1970s body-builder rockstar, who retired but made a come back in 2001.
“I’ve worked on it off and on for several years with a partner,” he said. “It’s based on a real person and it’ll get done, someday.”