Before enrolling in Full Sail’s Entertainment Business master’s program, Ryan Cimino had already put a good amount of time into his career in film. He’d traveled, doing work in front of the camera as well as behind it, and had finally settled in Central Florida to start his own production and development company, Sunset Studios. Things were going well; he’d spent years building relationships in the film community and his contacts were paying off, but Ryan felt like he was missing just a little bit of an edge when it came to running a business.
“One of the things I was considering at the time was how little control you have over the way the industry works,” he recalls. “There’s this whole inside structure, and having a good foundation in that is important to success. So I wanted to find a master’s program that was going to be tailored to my needs and focus on aspects of entertainment business.”
Because he was working full time building his company, Ryan opted to enroll online. Being local had its advantages though. He was able to frequently visit campus, take part in events, and meet with faculty one-on one for advice. In addition to what he gleaned from the program, these resources allowed him to apply solutions to his business in real time.
Ryan graduated in 2012, and since then has grown Sunset Studios to include distribution and sales in addition to production services. The company’s latest offering is the horror film KRUEL, out later this year. Ryan and his wife Cristina served as supervising producers on the film. Though they had the option of also working as the distributor, Ryan and his team made the call to act as sales agents instead. This allowed them to make sure the movie was placed in the best markets.
“Since it’s a genre film, there are distributors that we had contacts with who specifically target the horror genre. We set it all up—negotiating contracts, marketing, and how the filmmakers wanted to run the campaign for the film. We got distribution for it fairly quickly, in about a month,” he says.
KRUEL follows the story of a psychotic killer masquerading as an ice cream man, which makes it the perfect summer offering for horror fans. The film featured dozens of Full Sail graduates on the crew, something Ryan says motivated him to work with the title even more. “We’re looking for folks who know what they’re doing, and who bring a certain amount of professionalism to the table,” he says.
Up next, Sunset Studios is turning their attention to expanding into the international market.
“This year, we’ve already looked at titles from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and South Africa,” says Ryan. “It always comes back to storytelling for us, and if you look at the way the world has become a global economy, really we’re a global people now. Our stories are transcending our borders.”
KRUEL is slated for release in select theaters on May 29th. You can check out the trailer below.