NYFA Welcomes Writer & Director of Award-Winning “Shadow Boxing”

December 15, 2016

On Monday, December 12th, Ryan Taylor Lopez gave a Q & A at the Los Angeles Campus of New York Film Academy. Lopez is the writer and director of the award-winning “Shadow Boxing.” The film was based off lead actress Sam Wiechec’s personal life experiences. She was determined to make a film about a specific person.

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“I met Sam through a mutual friend and she was very adamant about wanting to make a movie about a particular subject. It took a lot of effort and it took quite a while, but she trusted me enough to open up about her personal experiences.” There was no story. The creators went over life events and pieced together a story from there.

Lopez took all of that information, retired to his room, and began outlining the film. He immediately likes the results and set out to put it down on paper.

Lydia Cedrone, who hosted the evening’s events and was pitched the original script in class, asked Lopez about, “Writing the perfect scene and then changing it into the perfect scene you can shoot.”

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“I didn’t know how much money I had and I didn’t know how much money I had to raise,” said Lopez. “I went into the process knowing everything in the movie had to be something I could pull off on a reasonable budget. Even things that don’t seem that unreasonable.”

Originally, Anne, the lead character, was scripted to drive away in a bus in the final scene. But, Lopez quickly realized he could not afford a bus. So, if he wanted to get the film he had to work within his budget.

Fundraising began around the fifth or sixth draft of the film. Most of the expensive ideas had been removed from the script, so it was time to budget the film. The initial budget was $75,000. They raised $55,000 by the first shoot date. There was a three-week period when there wasn’t enough money for post. Lopez began editing the film by himself.

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One student asked Lopez where he got his inspiration. Several low budget pictures were screened in preparation for this film, but it was “The Snowtown Murders” that had the largest impact. The film’s creators only used soft natural light. This allowed for lower costs on lighting, faster setups, and less preparation.

The two lead actors, Wiechec and Steve Luna soon joined Lopez on stage to give their takes. Wiechec was asked how she felt when she handed control of her story to Lopez. “You know it’s the definition of a passion project and it took two years to create. It was good.” Lopez chimed in, “If we’re being honest me and Sam did butt heads. Everybody wants success for the project but everyone has a different opinion on how to get there.” Despite difficult conversations, they were both happy with how the project turned out.


Luna spoke about the love that flowed on set between the cast and crew. Because this was a low budget film there were not trailers to escape to. So everyone hung out together between camera set ups. This closeness helped Luna get into character. “As an actor, you’re supposed to fall in love with your co-star. Whether you’re a lover or, like this instance, a father, you have to fall in love. I just love, (her) Wiechec.”

New York Film Academy would like to thank Lopez, Luna, and Wiechec for taking the time to speak with our students. “Shadow Boxing” is making its way around the festival circuit now.