Handsome and charismatic, Ryan works part time as a model, but with his true vocation being that of a mental health charity worker. Born intersex, his childhood begun with trauma as surgery was performed on him as an infant to make him female, although as Ryan grew up, he felt more and more that he should be male. Sam Patel’s book was an eye opener that changed his life and made him accept who he truly was.
The semi-autobiographical Kicks focuses on 15-year-old Brandon (newcomer Jahking Guillory in a breakout performance), who buys himself a sweet new pair of “kicks.” Brandon goes on a mission.
Behind The Scenes
In terms of deciding what story to tell, The Bicycle Thief got me thinking how much this one object can mean to someone, how it can have all this emotional weight. When developing the idea of Kicks, I was definitely referencing that. It kind of gave an emotional structure to it. Then I was also watching Fellini films and the dream sequences in 8 1/2.
It was that feeling that he wanted the shoes, like Brandon in the movie. He’s got what he wants, but it’s a false victory. Then the real emotional impetus being when my brother saw my face and was like, “Well, it’s okay, you’re a man now.” It made me proud for a split second and then extremely sad. In retrospect, I look back on it and was like “That’s bullshit.