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Producer and Director Ryan Polomski Talks his latest film “Raymond Lewis: LA Legend”

I was able to sit down and talk with up and coming producer and director Ryan Polomski who talked about his latest project Raymond Lewis: LA Legend.  It's a documentary about basketball star Raymond Lewis and here is what I found out.

I was able to sit down and talk with up and coming producer and director Ryan Polomski who talked about his latest project Raymond Lewis: LA Legend

It’s a documentary about basketball star Raymond Lewis and here is what I found out.

Richard:  Ok. So I just wanna start off and say, um, how did you begin as a producer? Director? 

Ryan: Yeah, I made my first film in ninth grade. It was a documentary about movies. I was actually in a movie around that same time, a student film in, down in Temple University in Philadelphia. And that’s what kind of got me turned on to movies. And then I worked with him to make a documentary for like a year end project in ninth grade. And then I actually saw the movie “Hoop Dreams” around that same time. And I was just like, profoundly affected by that, that documentary film. And so it was always in the back of my mind to become maybe a filmmaker, be a documentary filmmaker. And, you know, through time, I went to University of Montana, there weren’t too many film classes there. I think I took the only film class there. But I got a degree in literature and I did a lot of writing and, you know, I knew I wanted to get into nonfiction. You know, I fell in love with nonfiction writers during that time up in Montana. And just when I got into the MFA program in UFC Texas, you know, I was excited and I feel like I finally had the opportunity to really pursue my dreams. So that’s basically how I got started. 

Richard: Ok. And why did you decide to pursue a project on a basketball player? Raymond Lewis? 

Ryan: Well, I had moved to LA around 2013 and I had been moving around quite a bit at the time from Austin to San Francisco, Colorado, trying to figure out where I’m gonna land, you know, and I moved to L A in 2013 to continue to pursue my, you know, dreams of being a documentary filmmaker. And I knew I wanted to do an independent project. So I set to being, to doing some research and a longtime basketball lover grew up playing basketball, I play basketball still. So it’s probably my number one love, in terms of activities and hobbies. So I knew I wanted, you know, when you do a documentary, you might spend eight, we spent 8, 10 years on this. So you’re gonna spend a long time, you have to pick something that’s a part of your life and your passion. So, you know, I went into thinking of doing a basketball documentary, doing something about L A that’ll ground me in this community. And after doing some research, this this came upon me and being a Philadelphia native, I actually, you know, recalled some of Raymond’s story. So it was amazing for me to see that. Wow, this guy had a backstory here that’s been untold and, you know, has all these important relevant topics and there’s a mystery to be uncovered. So I fell in love with the project. I fell in love with the gentleman that had been trying to get something going named Dean Prater. Dean and I became partners, you know, in 2013 and it’s been a long but very productive relationship.

Richard: And what, what was the process of making this film?

Ryan: I mean, the process was long and arduous at times we thought we weren’t gonna get it completed. It took us, you know, 8 to 10 years to get it completed. And I mean, re really, there’s, there’s, there was 22 or three different facets that we need to, to, to go through one of them was you know, getting the game, get archival foot footage that was gonna bring the story to life. You know, that was the number one challenge because there was no footage of Raymond when we started. So, you know, his story was erased from history. That was the whole point of the documentary. But, you know, that makes it hard for a documentary and he’s not a famous guy like Louis Armstrong or, you know, Willie Mays where there’s all this footage on him. He was erased from history. So there was very limited footage. So acquiring that footage was, was our number one task, our most difficult task, you know, and then getting the interviews and getting the people that were closest to the story to participate. And although they, most people were more than welcome to participate, you know, it’s still a financial burden to, you know, to, to do this filming and travel and, and, and get everything done that way. Um, and, you know, the third part was, you know, putting the pieces together, editing, you know, we had over 50 interviews and hundreds of hours of footage, you know, a very complicated, complex story, um, that, you know, needed to be whittled down into something that was tangible for people to watch. So that took, you know, a good two a year and a half probably to, to finish. Um, so there you go. 

Richard: What makes you unique in this industry? 

Ryan: What makes me unique? Well, I’m one of the few people that can do everything, you know, and do it pretty well. You know, there’s a lot of people specialize their producers or their editors or their directors, you know, I did it all on this film from the very beginning, you know, fundraising, producing, shooting, writing, archival, producing, licensing, you know, you go down the line. I had my partner Dean and Dean is not a filmmaker. He’s a wonderful and very intelligent human being and, and brought and brought equal benefit to this project. But in terms of the filmmaking process, you know, it was on my shoulders and, you know, I followed it all the way through, you know, all the way through to the, um, you know, getting it out into the world, on VOD, you know, theatrical release, we’re gonna have a television release most likely on PBS at some point. You know, and I feel like I, I, I don’t know really too many people that can do that honestly. But you know, we continue to stick to my guns, you know, I don’t give up and I fight for, I think what’s right? And most of my projects I think have a really important social value as well. And I think my voice is just getting stronger. 

Richard: Ok. So where, where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years? 

Ryan: Well, I see myself probably making two or three more films, you know, with my own films. Hopefully I’m a part of other people’s projects in, in other ways. I’m working on another documentary right now. I think it’s gonna be big. I’m working on a narrative film that’s based out of Jamaica with my Jamaican partners. And then I have one open space for my third film. You know. So, you know, that’s a lot to do in 10 years actually. But I, you know, I think that would be, that would be wonderful. You know, if I can get three films done, I’m looking to teach more at the university level, high school level. I’m doing some consulting on an Indian reservation up in North South Dakota. So I wanna continue, you know, doing media education teaching the skills for people to become creators. I think that’s important. I get a lot out of teaching. So hopefully I’ll just grow those areas, you know, professionally teaching filmmaking and then also mentoring young folks. And also, you know, I’m interested in building my distribution side of my company. I think the V O D platform, digital release is changing the game and I think that you know, a lot of the distributing methodologies are becoming archaic and unnecessary. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation within the distribution side. I’m really learning a lot about that, getting the Raymond Dock out ourselves. So I’d like to help other filmmakers do the same. 

Richard: Wow. So where can they find your Raymond Lewis documentary? 

Ryan: Raymond Lewis: LA legend is out now on all major digital platforms. Amazon Direct itunes, Roku Google Play, look it up. It’s all there. We’re dropping officially tomorrow. That’s when we put it, but it’s not an exact science with these guys. Sometimes you can’t get it down to the day. We got it down to the week, but everyone’s dropping tomorrow. We’re out live already. You know, we have, you know, we have an executive producer on board named Ed Gordon whose son plays for the Denver Nuggets named Aaron Gordon. So, we’re just getting started here. You know, we’re hoping to bring this film out into the world like big time, you know, and this becomes a conversation piece, you know, amongst the likes of guys like Charles and lebron because, you know, Raymond fought for his value, you know, way back before everybody is even acceptable, right? You know, and then these guys now are getting their value. So, you know, they owe a debt of gratitude to guys like Raymond, especially Raymond, you know, who stood up for fighting for his value in that sport and, you know, lost everything because of it. So, you know, this is an important film in the basketball world. I think that it’s gonna become a pivotal conversation in terms of acknowledging the history and how the league was developed and I think it’ll be good for the players now, you know, to understand where they came from, right? You can’t, you don’t know your future unless you know your history, right? You can’t make your future, you understand your history. So these guys in the league, I mean, all of the guys in the league, you know, need to understand where, where, where they can, where it came from. And this is an important story that’s been overlooked in history. I think it’s gonna be a big one.