“I always wanted to be a writer/director,” says Bryan Ramirez.
Soon after graduating from Full Sail in 2003, Bryan packed his bags for Austin, where he landed a job as an editor with the legendary documentarian Hector Galan, working on films such as Los Lonely Boys: Cottonfields and Crossroads. Not long after that, he moved back to his hometown of San Antonio, where he produced promotional videos for the television station KSAT, the local ABC affiliate.
“I just wanted to get my name out there as an editor,” Bryan says, “and earn trust.”
But he really wanted to write. During his two years at KSAT, Bryan penned a script called Mission Park. It’s a crime drama about four friends from a bad part of town. Two of them become drug traffickers, while the other two become undercover FBI agents assigned to bring the dealers down. Bryan saw his script as an examination of why people become they way they are – about the choices that lead people from similar circumstances on divergent paths, and the factors that shape the people we become.
“My whole process of it,” Bryan says, “was that I wanted to make a movie that impacted me the way I was impacted. I grew up in a bad part of town. Everything you do is about choices.”
He got his script into the hands of an actor named Douglas Spain, who was in town shooting a movie. After that, the script began circulating in Hollywood, where it amassed a considerable amount of buzz. Bryan was called out to meetings in L.A.
There was a catch, however: He wanted to direct the film. The studios were nervous about handing the project off to a first-time director.
Enter Armando Montelongo. Montelongo is the San Antonio real-estate guru who appeared on the first three seasons of A&E’s hit reality show Flip This House. Bryan met him while directing his infomercial. Montelongo read the script, and liked it so much that in 2011 he formed his own production company to produce it. Bryan would get his shot in the director’s chair.
“Mission Park is my baby,” he says.
With a cast that includes Spain, Vivica A. Fox, and Sean Patrick Flanery, the film is currently set for an April 21 release, though Bryan says that Lionsgate, the distributor, may push that back to June or July.
For his part, Bryan is already looking ahead. He was one of three segment directors on the horror anthology Sanitarium, which stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Malcolm McDowell, and Robert Englund, among others. That film looks into the lives of three patients in a mental facility; Bryan’s segment focused on an artist’s descent into insanity. Sanitarium premiered at the Miami International Film Festival and has garnered strong reviews, particularly from Fangoria, which awarded it three out of four stars.
Bryan has also written a psychological thriller called For Jane, and he’s keeping himself busy directing music videos for artists such as Bugsy and A.J. Hernz. In addition, in late April he’ll begin work on a reality show pilot, which will look at flipping multimillion-dollar mansions.