Ryan Little is an award-winning indie film producer. Born in Canada, he graduated from Brigham Young University’s film school. He has directed eleven movies, produced six, and written one. He has won twenty awards for his movies, several earned while still in college.
It was his senior project that first brought him national fame. “The Last Good War” demonstrated the challenge of an American soldier and a German soldier forced to take shelter together during a storm. It won the Jimmy Stewart Crystal Heart Award at the 1999 Heartland Film Festival and Best Dramatic Film at a national competition sponsored by the Academy of Television and Film. This film led him to be hired by Cary Derbidge to direct, “Out of Step,” which concerned a Mormon dance student in New York.
His best-known film, Saints and Soldiers, won fourteen best picture awards at film festivals. The movie concerns three soldiers who escape during the Malmedy Massacre of World War II. One character is a Mormon—a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although this is not explicitly stated. Instead, there is mention that he abstains from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. (Caffeine is not against the Mormon health code, although coffee and tea are.) He is religious, was a missionary in Germany, and is often seen reading from a small book.
The newest Saints and Soldiers film is not a sequel, featuring different characters. This film also includes a religious character, although not a Mormon one. Many of Ryan’s films are noted for their focus on moral issues and for their unwillingness to always portray religious people as all good and secular people as all-bad. In fact, in the various World War II films, some Germans are portrayed as good people, an unusual inclusion that has generated both praise and criticism, depending on the attitude of the reviewer. To this, Ryan told Meridian Magazine:
“I believe that most people are good in nature; they just need an opportunity for others [to be able to] see that. I think we all come to cross-roads in our lives. It is the decision we make at that moment that defines who we are. I like to believe that most people will make the right choice if they really stop to consider what each path has to offer them. We simply put our characters at those cross-roads and watch to see if they will follow their heart” (Director Ryan Little Talks New Saints and Soldiers, Forever Strong, and His Inspirations, Jonathan Decker, Meridian Magazine, August 17 2012).