(director/writer: Ryan Dacko; cinematographer: Delaine Dacko; editor: Ryan Dacko; music: The Lost Patrol; cast: Tony Bersani (Narrator), Ryan Dacko (Himself); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ryan Dacko/Victor Linney; Ascension 3; 2007)

“Measures in miles how far Ryan is willing to go for his dream.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ryan Dacko films his attempt to get a 30-minute production meeting with a potential billionaire movie producer named Mark Cuban (controversial owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks). After six years trying to get a film financed (though he made several that went nowhere) and after 8 other plans failed, the desperate twentysomething Ryan came up with Plan 9–a rip on Ed Wood Jr.’s titled anti-masterpiece now classic bad film Plan 9 From Outer Space. Humor is not part of this intense reality film, that follows the trajectory of those recent reality TV shows. It measures in miles how far Ryan is willing to go for his dream. The plan calls for Ryan to run on August 15th, 2006, from his hometown in Syracuse, New York, to Hollywood, California, some 3,143 miles (adding some extra miles by a publicity jaunt to Las Vegas that didn’t work) to maybe get his Cuban interview and sell the potential producer on how he should give him a 3-movie deal because of the very trying run and all the publicity it generated on the Internet. Ryan eventually finds out Cuban sent a reporter an email insulting his effort, calling him stupid and telling him to forget it. But Ryan shows his grit and determination to realize his dream and treks on despite almost no chance of meeting Cuban, physical pain, swollen feet, deteriorating health problems, losing two different support vehicle drivers (eventually his younger sister Delaine drives the support car, holds his electric equipment and does the filming), bad weather conditions such as rain, heavy winds and falling behind schedule so that in the late fall he runs into snow storms in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and in the high elevation of Gallup, New Mexico, and, finally, has to overcome a growing despair.

There’s both something gallant here that moved me about outsider Ryan’s travails of trying to break in as a filmmaker without knowing the right people and something that rubbed me the wrong way that had him as a huckster. In the end, I couldn’t help liking and rooting for the kid and was convinced of his innocence, courage and determination, but was still not sure of his talent as a filmmaker.

It’s an inspirational film that is about someone who is obsessed with his dream and who is willing to take the pain to make the gain. And, all things considered, such as the lack of budget money and the difficulty of shooting such a self-promoting film, one that looked like an infomercial, it turned out to be a pleasing feel-good story and had good DVD production values with many great still photography shots of sunsets, cornfields and different cities. In the end, it shows, as if one didn’t know, how difficult it is to both get an indie film made and a theater release. Though I think Ryan’s plan is meshugeh, he at least got his name out there and this documentary film made (which seems to be quite an accomplishment); and, now for the more difficult act–let’s see in the future if he’s not only dedicated to movies but has the ability to be a filmmaker who has more films in him. I’m already convinced Ryan has good athletic ability (running across the country in 139 days makes this just as much a sports film as a film about a dreamer), has the heart of a lion and is a serious person who wants to continue to do worthwhile things in this lifetime–which is a noble aim that’s worth striving for; but, I would think, he must also learn how to go after his dream in a more sensible, more productive and less life-threatening way.

Plan 9 from Syracuse Poster