We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyse Kane Riley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyse, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
I hate to think of the “end goal” or end of my career. Scorsese is 79 and still doing this… Roger Deakins is 73. Some of the most influential people in our industry have been working for decades and still working, so I too hope to continue my work throughout my lifetime to see it evolve.
How I prefer to look at it is if I map out goals for one year from now, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years I will achieve everything I want to manifest currently, and I should be able to do it much faster than in 10 years by constantly reviewing and renewing my goals. Sometimes in the industry things take years to cultivate and other times things snowball into your lap with the right people and the right time. It’s important not to be hard on yourself or take it personally. I’ve been told “no” or “you’re not there yet” more times than I can count. And then, next thing I know, I’m doing the thing they said I couldn’t do.
For instance, one of my goals was to get into a Sundance Fellowship Lab. I’ve submitted for the Episodic Lab and Feature Film Lab for 3 years in a row and still haven’t got in, but my scripts that I have submitted have now been picked up by producers and are in development to get made. All it takes is one yes. And you know what I’ve found…that yes doesn’t even come from another person. The yes comes from you. That yes is a decision you make to not give up on your goals, your dreams. That yes is a feeling in your gut that you were not put on this Earth to do anything else– and that yes is God within you, pushing you to keep going.
So thats what I do. I keep going. I break it down into steps. My main goal currently is to work on the projects I have put so much time and effort into, by first getting representation as an independent writer/director. I hope to have a manager before the year is up, then complete my first feature film within a year of that–which is currently in development. Next, focus on the series (Meadow) I have created throughout 2023. For the next 3-5 years the goal is to build a soul tribe of trustworthy creators and likeminded people who share my vision of helping each other achieve our highest goals. (Studio Executives, Producers, Showrunners, DPs, Editors, Colorists, Composers, Distributors, PR, etc…) Five years from now I hope to be an accomplished Writer and Director of feature films and television, creating stories highlighting difficult themes that make humanity think about ourselves and where we are headed. Focusing on love, relationships, differences and similarities. Most of all I’m impassioned to create stories with inspiring characters that are inevitably flawed (like us all) but somehow spark curiosity within the audience.
I truly believe in putting passion and purpose first. Some men/women measure success with monetary gain, like money, recognition, and yes, while a big house and awards would be nice, I would much rather be known for the difference I made in the industry by telling stories that need to be told.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I come from a fashion and photography background. It was my job to visually make things look good. So things like composition, color, mood and tone have always been important to me. I’ve also been a writer since I was 10. I had poems and stories that won awards and were published since I was young. I believe my father gave me that gift.
Later on in life I decided to put my eye for beauty and my storytelling gift together to focus on writing and directing. I never went to film school. Directing music videos and shooting fashion editorials was my school. I learned by failing, overcoming and on set experience. Pivoting to overcome hard situations is what taught me some of the hardest lessons I’ve learned. Things like: how to correctly direct actors, how to deal with a bad crew member on set, how to gain the respect of your colleagues, how to deal with frustrations on set, how to shoot for enough coverage, how to prep for a shoot, how to manage post production…. there are so many things to learn. I have actually taught classes about these things now as a mentor to support other filmmakers.
You just got to get out there and do it. Take risks and make cool shit. Yeah you will fail and you will probably hate your first 40 projects, but then you’ll realize you’re really good at something you love doing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Im a bit of an introvert, so I mostly work from home with my dogs. But a do love a good time!
First, I would take them for a hot yoga sesh at my yoga studio YogaBody, because it’s the best way to clear my head after a long work week. Then, I love to eat– Im vegetarian, so I mostly do veggie spots, but Silverlake Ramen DTLA has some of the best veggie ramen! Gracias Madre has some of the best veggie mex-cal food and tequila I’ve ever had in West Hollywood. I also would hit the museums close by. I love the Broad, The Getty and the MOCA. Obviously I have a huge appreciation for art, and my work is constantly inspired by it, so a museum date on a gloomy day is my favorite.
I’m a cinema junkie so a movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a must. A horseback ride through the Hollywood hills is so much fun, there’s a little hidden ranch up there called Sunset Ranch. Hitting the beach and walking in Venice or Newport Beach is another favorite. I was married on a yacht in Newport, and the water is so beautiful at sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family comes first. My daughter, my husband, my father, my dogs.