Photographer: KC Armstrong
Makeup artist: Frankie Segura
Ethan Paisley, the 19-year-old multidisciplinary artist, producer, entrepreneur, and social justice advocate, is “a force to be reckoned with” (360 Magazine) who is recognized globally for his films, campaigns, and inspirational talks. Paisley’s work has won over 30 awards, including Best Director at the Young Entertainer Awards, Best Young Filmmaker at the Los Angeles Film Awards, and Best Overall Film at the Singapore International Film Festival. He has spoken at TED, Cannes Lions, and Variety’s Digital Hollywood. Essex TV in the UK named him “Hollywood’s Next It-Boy” in 2018.
Paisley started out in the San Francisco Bay Area as a performer, garnering local fame for his self-titled YouTube series he acted in and produced. As a freshman in high school, he took off with his first feature film The Art of Escape (2015) which signed a distribution deal with Intellect Pictures [
How did you first get interested in the film industry?
I did my first play when I was 8, and then from there I was hooked on acting. When I started auditioning for film and TV at 13, I was at that weird age where 18 year olds that look 13 were stealing my roles … so I started creating my own content. After exploring the YouTube space and PAing on a bunch of local sets, I decided to direct my first feature in high school. And the rest is history!
What are the influences in your work?
I feel like a lot of filmmakers start making movies because they get inspired by Spielberg movies and the like. I started by watching bad parody movies and realized that if B-movies can shine in film markets, then why can’t my own movies?! But now I’d say my contemporary influences are writers like Paul Schrader, Bret Easton Ellis and directors like Sean Baker. I feel like worldview is everything as a filmmaker and I definitely align with movies that focus on gritty surrealism mixed with fantasy.
What are your goals?
My goal, by producing, hosting, and managing artist public relations, is to create a built-in audience for an original streaming platform that emphasizes media based on true stories and social advocacy. The journey is one day at a time and it is definitely not easy, but I love the process and that’s all that matters.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
My biggest challenge, as cliche as it sounds, is not comparing myself to others and not letting my ego take control. Maybe it’s just the industry, but people will always tell you “you’re doing it wrong” and will give you unsolicited advice. The key is staying true to what you love and the kind of work that matters to you, and surrounding yourself with people you admire and respect. I’ve learned everything is about timing, and your job is to listen to your intuition and always go with your gut, even if it means failing. Usually it turns out 110% better than you could have imagined. Everyone just keep going!!!
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMDq1fC33cU#action=share
See more from Ethan here – www.ethanpaisley.com