By Jess Dankenbring, '17
Five years from now, students entering colleges around the country will have been born after 9/11. They will have no memory of that significant day in American history.
Ryan Frost, ’05, was a first-year student at the University of Richmond when the 9/11 attacks happened.
“There was before and after 9/11,” Frost says. “And everything that happened after that, in a weird way, was probably shaped by that moment.”
His personal reflections led him to write a script that captures the perspectives of other college students and their vivid memories of the day.
“I think everyone I talk to [about 9/11] definitely connects to the idea when I tell them about seeing 9/11 through a different perspective. Everyone that I engage will tell me their 9/11 story,” Frost says. “I’ve heard hundreds of really fascinating stories.”
Frost’s September 12th, debuted as a staged commemorative reading, and he is now working on producing it as a feature film. The entire performance takes place in a dorm room on the evening of 9/11. The main characters in the script are all college students and in the staged reading all parts were read by current college students.
“The kids who did the readings, to them it was this window so to speak, getting to see a perspective they’d never thought of,” Frost says. “I think there’s something important in there, and that’s why I’m passionate about it and going about it the way I am.”
This is the fourth script that Frost has written, but none of them have officially been produced. His first experience with film was his senior year at Richmond when he borrowed a camera from the media center and made a short film. Soon after graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at the University of Southern California. Frost now works on commercials and as a freelancer while he tries to get the feature film of September 12th off the ground.
“I decided with this I’m going to take it all the way,” Frost says. “I’m not going to rely on anyone making it for me or anyone in the industry saying ‘we need to attach this actor to that actor.’ I’m just trying to really be aggressive and make it happen on my own.”
So far the hardest part of the project has been fundraising. “I was opposed to doing a crowdfunding campaign for a variety of reasons but instead of giving awards to people that contribute in the form of DVDs or special thanks or credits in the movie or posters signed, I got this idea to donate a portion of whatever people donate to the film to a 9/11 charity.”
In the first five days, the September 12th Indiegogo campaign raised $2,048, half of which will go to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund. “I want to give back as much as I can along the way and help out,” Frost says.
The film will include an interview Frost conducted with the writer of the feature film Flight 93, along with artwork from several New York-based artists. His goal is to share these things and talk about 9/11 in different ways.
“It’s an important project, and I think the process of doing it has become more important even than the content itself,” Frost says. “Coming back to Richmond to do this reading was really important to me, and we had a great experience there. I felt like when I was there it meant something to the people who did see it. Now I’m trying to take the good momentum and turn it into something.”