Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Behind The Words // Casey Ryan

So far, Behind The Words has focused on authors sharing a little about how they work and where the magic happens. My hope is to expand the reach of this feature and talk to professionals in many other areas. This week, we're looking at a radio host, personality and interviewer to discover some of the motivations and strategies behind his words.

I connected with podcast host Casey Ryan via Twitter. He asked me to join him on his show, The Cutting Room Floor and you can listen to the resulting interview here. I was absolutely delighted to be on the receiving end of Casey's questions. Firstly, because Casey does a bang-up job of letting guests speak about their projects and guiding them to the crucial information and insights that listeners want to know more about. Secondly, because The Cutting Room Floor has been primarily focused on independent filmmakers and filmmaking in general. As an author, it's exciting for me to branch out and speak to a crowd I normally don't get to converse with. It forces me to look at how I speak about writing. I get to talk more about storytelling and that gets more to the heart of what I do.

I don't want to speak for Casey, but I definitely get the impression he's enjoying branching out to interview more authors on his podcast. We're probably in agreement on this: storytelling is an exciting art form -- whether one does it on paper or on video or film. It's fascinating to talk with people who love the craft of storytelling. And, quite frankly it's a joy to talk with folks who are enamored with interviewing such storytellers. Casey Ryan is one who has such a passion, both for the art and for the people who take it to new I turn the floor over to him!

So, Casey, who the heck are ya?

Casey John Ryan but, my closest buddies just call me “Case”. I was born and raised in Montreal and have lived here my whole life. After I got my BA in Industrial Relations and Economics (having also earned a Sciences diploma in junior college) I took the logical step of setting off on a prolific career in corporate sales. A couple of years ago, I started my radio show and that opened up a whole new exciting chapter in my life. I'm proud of my Irish heritage and in recent years have gotten involved with a couple of local Irish community volunteer groups.

A self proclaimed pop-culture addict, I'm always trying to read up on the latest big news stories – whatever the medium may be. Entertainment Weekly is the only magazine that I read devoutly but, I also enjoy Rolling Stone and Esquire once in a while. I refuse to watch any of the so-called “Entertainment Reporting” shows that come on after the news.

My favorite critics include Mark Harris and Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly and the great Roger Ebert. My biggest influences from a talk show perspective are George Stroumboulopoulos, Larry King, and Jack Paar. With every intended respect to “Johnny” I liked Paar's interview style just a little better.

I'm happily married to my wife of 7 years. We have a little dog named Tatum (as in O'Neal) and don't have any kids. We both love to travel. Sweden, Ireland, and Australia are on our wish list of places we want to see most. I'm happy to report that we were able to scratch Las Vegas off the list last December.

Tell us about your podcast

The Cutting Room Floor is a half-hour talk radio podcast that primarily seeks to help promote micro-budget and independent entertainers of all types. I have a lot of fun doing it because it allows me to both talk about entertainment with people in the business and use my sales training to help them market their work.

I generally broadcast live at noon Eastern Time on Sundays and post recorded copies of the interviews shortly after the shows are over. Occasionally I'll slip in an extra episode depending on the availability of the guest or if a particular project that someone has is “time sensitive”. It's a hobby at this point but, one that I take seriously.

Describe your work space

I generally do my planning and actual podcasting in the office of our home. It's on our upper floor and overlooks our modest backyard. It's also the place where I write most of my reviews or newsletter articles. As far as straight up “tweeting” goes, I like to have the laptop with me in front of my TV in my “movie cave” (rec room) in our basement. Channel surfing or watching a movie gives me some random talking points while I'm using social media.

Do you eat while you write? Listen to music?

I like to have black coffee at my desk pretty much all the time – especially while I'm writing reviews or broadcasting. Eating is messy and distracting. About an hour before I go on air, I usually like to play some up-beat music while I tweet. It gives my energy level a little extra boost and always puts a smile on my face.

What are you working on these days?

Reviews. I've written both a film and a book review that were very well received online and I'm trying as much as possible to do more of it. Earlier this year, Lorna Suzuki sent me a copy of the first book in her Imago series and I couldn't put it down. After I had her on my show, she asked if I'd consider jotting a few words down for her and I jumped at the chance.

A little later, producer John Paul Rice from No Restrictions Entertainment sent me a copy of his film “One Hour Fantasy Girl”. It was a well crafted character piece and I was also proud to write a review about it. When you watch as many movies as I do, seeing your writing up on IMDB for the first time is a big thrill.

I've also dabbled in creative writing over the years (including a one-act play) but, I haven't shown any samples to anyone yet. The independent entertainment community is riddled with inspiring people. Lately I've started to get the writing bug again and have jotted down some ideas.

Any techniques, topics or approaches you rely on?

The commute to my “day job” is roughly an hour each way. I take the train and have often said that my best ideas come to me on my rides to and from the office. I always have a scrap of paper and a pen on me because you never know when a great concept will just sneak up on you.

As far as preparing for the show goes, I try not to over think things. Larry King once said in an interview “Let your guest be the expert.” and I think there is a lot of truth to that. I try to budget 60-90 minutes maximum to familiarize myself with my guest's work and set my list of questions.

It's important to speak from a position of understanding but, if you know too much going in, the interview feels forced. This said, if someone is kind enough to send me a copy of their movie or book ahead of time, I will watch/read it before the show. I'll usually watch the movies 2 or 3 times.

What does your wife think of you being a podcaster? Does she bring you chocolate cake to keep you out of her hair?

Make no mistake, my wife is the reason I'm still at it. Initially the show was run through a friend's website (which has since been dismantled). The early attempts lead to some embarrassing results that thankfully will never be heard again by anyone. My plan was just to run the show on my own and do a knock off of “At the Movies” - reviewing all the major studio stuff.

My wife was unrelenting and no matter how awkward those first few shows were, she insisted that I do “just one more”. Then a local filmmaker named Matthew Saliba granted me my first interview and the show took on a whole life of it's own from there.

She's able to give me the space I crave because at the same time, it gives her the space she needs to pursue her own interests in becoming a professional chef. Her specialty happens to be baking so in response to your last question, yes – she does occasionally bring me “chocolate cake” to keep me out of her hair. In our house it's usually peach pie though – my favorite.

Casey, this has been such a refreshing change of pace. I want to thank you for sharing insight into your world. I'll send my shipping address so that hopefully your wife will feel compelled to share her baking experiments a little closer to my kitchen table. Where can listeners find you?

The Cutting Room Floor podcast page or on Twitter.

Great -- Thanks, Casey!


  1. Okay, 2 things I gleaned from this interview that now make me realize why I like Casey so much: Irish and peach pie. Both high on my list of things I love!

    Thanks for showcasing this lovely man, Jason. I knew from the first time I heard Casey that he really enjoys what he does. It comes across in the way he interviews and how generous he is with his guests.

    I have an affinity for hosts who are interested in people in general. It's why I think The Cutting Room Floor works. Casey is attentive to the projects, but he is also genuinely interested in the person he interviews.

    I may not always be drawn to a particular project, but if I can connect to the person behind it, then it gives me insight to appreciate the work. Sometimes that’s all it takes to support a cause, a film, or a book.

    I’m really happy to see Casey in the spotlight. It’s great to learn more about a man who is so supportive of the indie community.


  2. What a great interview! I've enjoyed tuning into your podcasts and this was a fun way to get to know the man behind the voice and the occasional tweets that I see. I especially appreciated the notion that you can use your real world sales and marketing expertise to help struggling independents get their footing and start building bigger and better things.

    J, it was a fantastic and welcomed idea to feature an intriguing person like Casey on "Behind the Words" to broaden our view of storytelling and the personalities that make it happen.

  3. You're so right, Ann. Casey's help is a giant boon to storytellers and creative people of every ilk. Support from professionals like him is boundless and crucial.

    Thanks for your comment!

  4. Jason - This was a great opportunity and I thank you, Ann, and Eden for your generous words. Opening up the show to authors was one of the smartest moves I've made since I started podcasting.

    Congratulations for putting this site together. You're a credit to the literary community specifically and to storytellers in general.

    Is mise le meas,
    Casey Ryan

  5. Casey is such a wonderful human being. Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about him and his show. Maybe we should scour for the early days or the Cutting Room Floor. ;-)

  6. Wow, thanks, Casey! It has been a blessing to connect with you and such fun to have you here on my website. I hope to work with you again in the future because it's been a blast.

    Gary, thanks so much for stopping by. Couldn't agree with you more about Mr. Ryan! The early days of the Cutting Room Floor will be excerpted on A&E or some such in a few years, I'm sure -- when they look back at the rise of Casey Ryan.

  7. This is awesome, it's so great to "meet" such a creative guy! I'm gonna go look up his site. now. =)

  8. Yup, Ellie. Casey = Coo-el. Thanks for stopping in for a meet n' greet.

  9. This interview is awesome, congrats! We have a similar setup at home, too. Since I started working with a virtual office system, I've been working from home too.


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