Ryan McNulty is a local filmmaker from Westminster. Even though we share the same last name we are not related. McNulty became interested in photography when he received an inexpensive camcorder for Christmas when he was 10 years old. He began to make his own videos by filming his friends and parents.
A year later he got a digital camera that he used to make Claymation films. He made figures out of clay and moved them around, moving each one slightly and then photographing them. That made a moving image. McNulty made about 10 films using this method. The first film was about a monster that ate smaller monsters and evolved into different shapes and sizes.
When McNulty attended Winters Mill High School, he was involved in theater as an actor. During his last semester in high school he took a video production class. It was the first time he had held a camera to make films since he was a child.
“It came naturally to me. I learned the basics of film making and editing,” he said. At that time, it was just fun for him. McNulty graduated from high school in 2015.
McNulty was accepted to Towson University as an education major. But by the fall of 2015, he found that his real interest was in filmmaking and changed his major from Education to Electronic Media and Film.
He attended screening of films that were hosted by the EMF department. The first film he saw was a monster movie made by some Towson alumni. McNulty was intrigued that someone from Towson had achieved success. It was through EMF that McNulty got to be an extra on the Netflix show, “House of Cards”.
The next semester, he became a member of the Towson University film society called “Lambda Kappa Tau.”
“It is a great organization run by students, including film and audio people who make films, music, graphic design and follow other artistic pursuits. It is a great way to gain experience and make connections. People are often asking for film crew or actors for their movies,” he said. “I feel like I am a lot more prepared for entering the film industry because of LKT.”
In January of 2017, McNulty made his first short film called “Incident Report.” The film story follows two detectives investigating a house in Baltimore. Neighbors called them to investigate a house that had a foul smell. S
tone, the older detective, rides with a younger detective named Lambert. They find remnants of a murder scene inside the house. There is a dead body on a piano and a woman badly beaten with a number six carved on her forehead. The story goes from there and has a surprise ending.
McNulty’s film has been shown at the “Spotlight Horror Film Awards” near Atlanta. His film was a bronze award winner. It was also an “Official Selection” at the 2018 Ocean City Film Festival.
McNulty made a second short film in August called “Mouthwash,” starring his friend Austin Anderson, who was in the theater with him at Winters Mill. Austin stars as a domestic terrorist. Two government agents captured him. In the film, the detectives are trying to get him to tell them about his plans for destruction. They use a mouthwash mixture that is 50 percent alcohol to get the terrorist to give them information about his plans. Then the detectives use dental torture on him.
The Maryland Film Industry Coalition is an organization of Maryland filmmakers that are trying to keep film alive in the Baltimore area. They hosted a gala in November 2017 where they presented a scholarship with entry open to any filmmaker in Maryland. Film entries had to focus on why Maryland is a great place for film makers.
McNulty did a mini documentary with clips from his films” Mouthwash” and “Incident Report,” with his voice over explaining how the films were made and what filming in Baltimore is like. Three people were given awards including McNulty, who won first place and a $1,000 scholarship.
He made this film with a production group called “Creamed Productions.” It is a group of students who are exceptionally passionate about writing for film, making films, watching films and the process. They have made about 25 short films so far.
McNulty has also gotten involved in lighting work for films. He took a class at Towson University in lighting for film.
“I really enjoyed it and became interested in how lighting shapes the atmosphere of the movie. Since that class I have been involved in a lot of student films with lighting. It is a very satisfying field,” he said.
“I like making films because I like entertaining people. I like writing absurd plot lines and concepts and getting them on to film. For example, ‘Incident Report’ has a surprise ending. I like sitting in an audience that has never seen it and watching their reaction. It is magical.”
He also has an interest in photography. McNulty got his first DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel T5i in 2016. “It was a good starter camera to learn technical skills,” he said. McNulty likes to take extreme close-up photographs of textures. He also likes to experiment with framing an image within a frame. For example, having two objects or subjects forming the borders of a frame in the foreground with a subject in the background.
Often, McNulty goes outside with his camera and shoots whatever is interesting to him. He has recently become interested in photo editing and has invested in higher quality lenses. All his photography is self-taught from exposure settings, editing and composition. “Whenever I pick up my camera, I learn something new and find it rewarding,” McNulty said.