Alumni Success: Ryan Geiger, Creative Media Business Owner and Accomplished Filmmaker

Ryan types at his a work table on his laptop.

Today we speak with Ryan Geiger, who attended Rowan from 2004 to 2008. He was an RTF major and advertising minor. He now owns his own media studio called Pinch located in North Jersey. Ryan also is an independent filmmaker and has won awards in several film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival.

Can you tell us more about where you currently work? 

Ryan Geiger recently opened his own media studio called Pinch. With 15 years of experience in the creative industry, Ryan created a strong network with many creative professionals. Ryan previously worked at Bingley Digital in Connecticut as the Creative Director. Bingley was bought by one of their clients, and the owner of Bingley trusted Ryan with its remaining clients.

He strongly encourages students to forge strong connections as early as possible and opportunities like this can be in their future. 

Ryan remembers his first job immediately after college, proving the power of connections. Through one of his connections, Ryan went to work as an Assistant Director for Center City Film & Video (CCFV) in Philadelphia, which films commercials. Ryan enjoyed the feeling of being on a stage set with actors and how it felt so professional. Ryan shared the news about opening Pinch studio with his network and received a request from CCFV to work with that same client he worked with at CCFV. 

“You never know when someone from your past is going to come to you for more work!”

Starting your own business is way harder than it looks. You see people on Instagram; they sell cookies and go viral because [a] celebrity posts about their [product]. In all life, you [either] get lucky or you work, grind, hustle, and you make a name for yourself.” 

Ryan poses confidently wearing blue plaid.

What does your day-to-day work look like? 

“When you start your own business, a lot of it is me reaching out to previous clients and new clients trying to get work. Then, it’s directing all the current workload. Working with the clients to direct digital ads, web design, a video series, or social media videos. 

It’s navigating when things are due, how things get done, and who needs to work on them. I still have my hand in a lot of it. I was editing up until the minute I took this call. I’m always working on something. We [creatives] are always working, always tormented. We’re always trying to do better things. We are obsessed with looking at what other people are making and learning how they made it. It’s not an easy job.”

Can you tell me about your experience as an undergrad?

“I had a wonderful four years and that was partially due to the fact that I engrossed myself in everything. I dabbled in Rowan Radio (89.7 WGLS-FM) and had a morning radio show. I had a  television show on RTN called The Rowan Update. I shot 22 episodes and it was a spin-off of “The Daily Show,” a comedy show that reports on the news. I was a Student Ambassador and I ended up becoming the Ambassador Coordinator my senior year being the leader of all of the tour guides. I could walk around campus blindfolded! I knew everything about every single building! Landmark was my local watering hole as an undergrad.”

Ryan attends The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival in a suit.

Did you have a favorite class or professor? 

As a freshman, Ryan took a philosophy class and fondly remembers the professor treating every student as an adult. The professor’s honesty, seriousness and curtness left such an impression on Ryan.  

“He was the classic idea of a professor who comes in barreling through the door, yells at everybody, and writes things on the wall. It really opened my eye to philosophy, to the phrasing of sentences, and to the thought process of decision-making.”

Ryan’s favorite professor was Prof. Sheri Chinen Bieson, who wrote a book about film noir called “Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir.” Her contagious passion and giddiness about film made the class more engaging and exciting.

What was one thing about Rowan that was a happy surprise for you? 

“I think the Student University Programmers really did an amazing job in finding a lot of really funny things to do and keeping people engaged. I remember a lot of my fun memories are going to all the comedian shows. They had Bob Saget to Zach Galifianakis. They had a ton of bus trips to go to Philly and to Broadway shows. All the tickets were so cheap! Coming from a guy who grew up in North Jersey, there were a lot of really funny things that I never experienced before. I hope it’s still being funded and that they are still doing awesome stuff because they really did some great programming.”

Ryan sits at his desk at work, typing on his laptop.

What was your journey like after Rowan? 

“My journey after Rowan has been nothing but completely tumultuous, challenging and exciting times. I graduated in 2008, during the collapse of the economy and the housing market crash. It was a real psychological struggle to realize that it wasn’t as simple as I thought it was going to be.” 

Ryan hustled and worked on a few TV shows and movies, but never got the breakthrough he was looking for. He continued to chase his passions in 2009, making his first feature film called “Stealing God’s Money.” It went on to win Best Feature at the Garden State Film Festival

“It was such an encouraging and amazing thing. I was at the awards ceremony and sitting at a table with production companies that spent $100,000 on their film. One guy leaned over and he asked, ‘What was your film budget?’ I said, ‘A thousand bucks. What was yours?’ He said, ‘A hundred thousand.’” 

Ryan continues: “You can do it on a scrappy budget. I made some more movies and that went on to also win film festivals and awards. Most notably, my film ‘Town Red screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. That was a massive moment for me to go there, walk the red carpet, be in the same building as Leonardo DiCaprio (who was showing ‘The Great Gatsby’ that year). I even got an interview on NBC about Town Red. But, the phone doesn’t just ring because you get an interview. You still have to hustle and work hard. I didn’t let that discourage me and I still kept going down the creative direction.”

….

Although Ryan loves Rowan, the journey after was not the easiest. Rowan taught him so many things but most importantly to never give up. As an alumnus, Ryan would like to help current students get involved in more real-world productions. He also hopes to offer his mentorship through the Alumni Association, offering a valuable connection to students now and in the future. 

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Story by: 
Marian Suganob, senior public relations and advertising double major

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