The Graduates: The Little Film That Could

By: Brian O’Conor

New York, NY: The Graduates, made for a mere $95,000 opens in select cities this May.

Most indie films spend $95,000 before lunch on the first day. So how did director/producer Ryan Gielen squeeze an entire movie out of the tiny budget?

“We begged, borrowed and stole, literally,” says Gielen. “We didn’t actually steal, but we did get about $250,000 worth of free stuff from supporters, which is the only way we could make the film.”

The hysterical coming-of-age comedy is full of laughs and touching moments, and even won the prestigious Director Discovery Award at one of the country’s top film festivals, Rhode Island International Film Festival.

How is The Graduates faring in this tough economy?

“We’ve sold out ten festival and sneak preview screenings in a row, all by word-of-mouth,” says Gielen. “People need a laugh right now, and we’re thrilled to give it to them.”

Gielen and his brother Matthew Gielen (also a producer on The Graduates) are pioneering the way filmmakers use free social media and new media to spread the word about the film, selling out ten (10) sneak previews in a row.

“Indie filmmakers now have the ability to become small business owners,” says Gielen. “We’re not dependent on a studio to create a film or sell a film. Everyone would love that luxury, but the reality is that we must take control of our film’s fate, and free social media like Facebook and Twitter allow us to do that.”

One trick the filmmakers employ: giving away 1,000,000 free soundtracks to The Graduates, for free.

“Anyone who wants to get to know our film, or the bands involved can download our soundtrack for free, any time, anywhere,” says Gielen.

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The Graduates opens in select cities this May. The soundtrack can be downloaded from

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