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Meet Ryan Hopkins of Everybody at 68

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Hopkins.

Ryan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, and I come from a family of storytellers. To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve met someone who can tell a story better than my dad. Every lesson he’s taught me has been housed within a story. I credit most of the way I carry myself to these moments I spent listening to him. What I didn’t realize, though, was that I was also being taught how to tell an effective story. So while I didn’t really get into filmmaking until high school, I like to think I’ve worked my whole life sharpening the necessary skills to be effective at it.

In high school, I took an improv class as one of my electives and was instantly hooked. That class really opened me up to begin finding my voice and being able to utilize it in an effective and humorous way. That experience led me to getting involved in this satirical YouTube show produced at my high school. We even had our own production office on campus, equipped with editing stations, some pretty high-quality sound, camera and lighting equipment, and it was really just a space where we would come together and be able to express ourselves creatively. Some of the most talented people I’ve met spent countless hours in that room, collaborating.

It felt like the natural next step for me to attend film school. I recently graduated with my degree in Film & Television Production from Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film & Television, and I absolutely loved it. The friends I made in that school are people I hope to collaborate with for the rest of my career, and the professors I had really cared about my development as a young writer-director.

Being in Los Angeles, so far away from home, those four years really helped me to see how important family and St. Louis are to my filmic voice. LMU provided me with my film family and helped funnel my ideas in order to come to a deeper understanding of the types of films I want to write and direct in the future.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, and I’m thankful for it. I think it’s important to embrace these challenges. I remember watching Denzel Washington accept an NAACP Image Award a few years back, and in his acceptance speech, he said “ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship,” and I think there’s a lot of truth there.

I’ve failed a lot of times, but the first time was very difficult for me. I remember I worked so hard for this one project early on in film school, and it was horrible. I cannot emphasize enough how bad it turned out. I still have it around just because it makes me laugh looking back at it. But I was so disappointed in myself that I started to wonder if this just wasn’t the career for me. I came home for Christmas break so discouraged. Then I heard how my older brother talked to people about me. He would tell people how talented I was before I had even made anything, then continued to say that after he watched my failures.

My mom and dad have also been overwhelmingly supportive of my pursuits. My mom frequently professes her faith in me, and I remember one day, my dad came to me and asked, “What’s our house number?”
“68?” I said confusedly.
“That’s right, and Everybody at 68 will always be here to love and support you.”

My family spoke so much support over me. They gave me the confidence to accept my early failures as stepping stones. I think failure and struggles are the nature of the art, and now it just tells me that I need to work harder; that’s it. What’s meant for me will come; I just try to have my mind focused on bettering myself and my abilities so that I am ready for when these opportunities present themselves.

Please tell us about Everybody at 68.
Everybody at 68 is my filmmaking brand. I specialize in directing music videos and narrative shorts. I think what I am most proud of is how tight-knit the community of people I frequently collaborate on these projects are. Onset, it’s very important to me that it feels like you’re wanted and valued. Every person who has worked with me to bring these visions to life is part of my family, and I am immensely thankful for them.

From the standpoint of the actual work, we really try to make things that cause you to respond emotionally. Whether or not you can relate to the characters or to the music, there’s an emotional throughline that the viewers can universally connect with.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My family went on a Disney cruise for vacation when I was maybe 5 or 6. At that time, I was obsessed with Donald Duck. I would see all the other characters walking around the ship, but I kept bugging my parents that Donald was never around. My dad then made it his mission to find Donald Duck so I could take a picture with him. The last night on the cruise, at like eleven at night, he finally found Donald, and I got my picture.

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Image Credit:

Tristan Willis, Griffin Voth, Preach Perfect

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