Ryan Anderson Interview - The Modern Explorer

I've been in Bali for nearly four months, and Ryan Anderson is hands down one of the most interesting people I've met. In a previous life he worked as a lobbyist, and then as an entrepreneur who created city specific audio guides. Today he travels the world and shoots short documentary films that are both heart warming, and extremely impactful.

These are a few of the things we talk about in the interview:

  • The beauty of giving work away for free under the creative commons license
  • Advice for aspiring documentary film makers
  • Making major life changes
  • Why you should cycle 2,000km through Iran

He is masterful storyteller, and is the perfect example of how one person can make a positive impact on the world by following their passion. You can watch the whole interview below, or scroll down to read some of the highlights. At the bottom of the post I include two of my favorite short documentary films created by Ryan's Oxlaey project.

As a quick FYI to you, this is the first time I have ever interviewed someone! Thanks to Ryan's incredible story telling abilities it turned out quite well. Enjoy! [click here to download as an mp3]

10 Quotes From My Interview With Ryan Anderson

"I travel the world and I shoot short documentary films under 5 minutes, and I try to explore people and how people express themselves, their culture, and their work.”

“Anybody who goes to film school, I would almost say ‘you’re a sucker’... I got a couple of crappy cameras and after four or five years of practicing, making junk, I saved up enough money and I was ready to take off on my world tour."

“The more I give, the more I run into people that also want to give. It is a super great vibe to work and hang out with people who are all interested in creating something beautiful, and positive towards community, and not the model of ‘well, I’ll talk to you. But first you need to put a downpayment on something.’ It’s total freedom, total love.”

"These films are a message for policy makers, the cities themselves, and for other cities to say we don’t want this to happen. And maybe just an homage to the people who have to move out. Their stories are recorded, and they have a chance for someone to listen to them.”

“If you want to film people, and really get the camera close in their face and talk, you have to be interested genuinely in them as people. They’ll see it in your face, they’ll see it in your body language. If you’re really interested and care about them, then the camera doesn’t really matter.”

“I think the hard part has been to be honest with yourself and say ‘Is this who I am, is this what I want?’… But it wasn’t who I was and I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like what I was doing. And I didn’t enjoy my time. And I decided I better jump out, pull the parachute.”

“Learn to fail. Embrace faiure, and fail fast. Get in there and try it. If it doesn’t work, and I burn through my cash, then all right. It’s not like I lost anything. So I go back to my crappy old life… You gotta take a chance. And in my experience all the chances I’ve taken have lead to somewhere positive. If you want to you can always learn from experience and you can use that toward something going forward."

“I’ve never met any group of people that are more warm hearted than the Iranians. They set a whole new bar… The Iranians would meet you during the day, and then take off from work just to show you around… Part of their culture is to support travellers, and part of it is the hospitality of the Muslim faith. And I think part of it is that Iran has been so isolated for so many years that their just dying to meet somebody, and see what the outside world is like."

"Don’t be worried [about Iran]. It’s probably the safest place I’ve ever gone to. And I camped out in the desert on the side of the road every night, never had a bad experience… Go to Iran. It’s a wonderful place.”

“The reward is so much greater. That’s why I like to go to places that no one else goes. Because you get to experience people… I mean they want to know about your life. And are genuinely interested. It’s such a pleasure to meet a person on a human to human level. You have to go to a place because your interested in being a traveler, not a tourist.”

Two Of My Favourite Oxlaey Films


You can find out more about Ryan Anderson and watch his films at Oxlaey.com, or on the Oxlaey YouTube Channel. Information on his current project in George Town, Malaysia can be found on Facebook.

Want to read more from Zachaery? Check out The 25 Books Every Traveler Needs To Read

Leave a comment, I would love to know what you think! Do you consider yourself to be a modern explorer?