Bryan W. Simon is an award-winning and critically acclaimed director, writer and producer.
Most recently, Bryan directed the big screen adaptation of Jay Johnson’s Tony® Award winning Broadway play, JAY JOHNSON: THE TWO AND ONLY! The film was released on Pay-Per-View in over 55 million households. In 2015, it was released on DVD and received a world wide release.
Previously, Bryan directed his third film, the comedy documentary I’M NO DUMMY, the first feature length documentary on ventriloquism. I’M NO DUMMY is a whimsical and insightful documentary that examines and dissects the world of ventriloquism through clips, photos and interviews with many of the greatest vents from today and yesterday, illustrating that this perceived novelty act is truly an extraordinary art form. Chuck Rich of Westwood One Radio said, “I fell in love with this documentary within the opening minute.” Patrick Hickey Jr. of ReviewFix.com proclaimed, “I’m No Dummy is a quality piece of cinema,” and “charming, thoughtful and fun, from start to finish.” And Jeff Gedgaud of Associated Content stated, “a fantastic and highly recommended purchase for anyone who likes a great laugh.” I’M NO DUMMY was the hit of the Seattle International Film Festival where it debuted before getting picked up by Salient Media and NBC/Universal. In 2015, the documentary was re-released in a Limited Edition Two-Disc set with Directors Commentary and over two and one half hours of extras. It received a world wide release in 2016.
Bryan’s first feature film was ALONG FOR THE RIDE, which won Best of Fest – First Feature at the Saguaro Film Festival International. It was an official selection in competition at the Austin Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival, New Haven Film Festival and Atlanta Film Festival.
Bill Gallo of the Los Angeles New Times proclaimed, “This first feature by a young Chicago director named Bryan W. Simon is an astonishing thing to behold.” And said the film was a “brave, funny, and engaging movie.” Russell Smith of The Austin Chronicle called ALONG FOR THE RIDE, “Fresh and compelling, nothing short of amazing” and stated, “Thanks to Simon’s assured and straightforward direction, this film rises well above the lackluster status quo of current indie cinema.” The Pioneer Press announced, “Bryan Simon knows how to make movies, and how to make them work,” and Daria Snadowsky of INsite Magazine declared, “Along for the Ride is a triumph for independent cinema…an extraordinary antidote to the mediocre mainstream.” The film is distributed by Fabrication Films.
In addition. Bryan directed the critically acclaimed short film, THE SECOND ROOM. Rick Moser of the Copley News Service stated, “An exciting directorial debut. Simon has successfully translated his keen artistic vision to the screen.” and “For a film debut, THE SECOND ROOM shows a strong directorial hand.” Added Film Critic Bill Thompson of The Post and Courier, “A most intriguing and provocative film,” and Film Threat Magazine in it’s BEST OF issue gave THE SECOND ROOM an 8 (out of 10 points); and said “THE SECOND ROOM is a hot film from a director to be on the look out for.” THE SECOND ROOM received the Gold Award at the Charleston International Film Festival and was one of only five shorts accepted for the AFI-Los Angeles International Film Festival. In addition, THE SECOND ROOM was selected for the Discovery Series at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Big Film Shorts distributes the film.
Bryan became interested in film at a very young age, first buying a Super 8 camera and making short films with two of his friends Rick Kendrick and Kimmer Olesak. Later using an old Bolex 16mm crank camera they made a short surreal film entitled, LOOSE FITTING DRESSES ARE EASIER TO GET INTO. The film, influenced by the likes of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, had nothing to do with dresses, loose fitting or otherwise.
From 1984 to 1993, Bryan was the Founder and Artistic Director for the Chicago area STAGE TWO THEATRE COMPANY. Diana Carney of the News-Sun stated, “Stage Two and its artistic director Bryan W. Simon, holds a quiet national status” and “Stage Two under the direction of Bryan Simon is being recognized on both coasts.” Michael Bonesteel of the Pioneer Press added, “Stage Two and its artistic director, Bryan Simon, have a keen theatrical vision.” In addition the Daily Herald said, “Through its Artistic Director Bryan Simon, Stage Two promotes thoughtful theater,” and H. Lee Murphy of the Chicago Tribune proclaimed, “Stage Two’s biggest problem over the last few years has been finding enough seats to satisfy ticket demand. He has proven himself very adept. Another leap forward for his Stage Two Theater Company.”
Under Bryan’s direction, Stage Two stimulated thought and aroused the imagination with its choice of productions. The ensemble believed that theater is a vehicle to inform and disseminate ideas, a catalyst for change. Their productions reflected a strong social conscience.
Appearing in and directing numerous plays with his theater company, from 1990 through 1992, Bryan also toured the country portraying an unjustly imprisoned photographer in the one-man play, LA LOMA. It won three Drama-Logue Awards including Outstanding Achievement in Performance and many Critics Choices. Robert Sessions of Drama-Logue stated, “The production showcases a tour de force performance by Bryan W. Simon” and “His powerful performance makes the audience squirm.” Beth Hill of The Los Angeles Reader proclaimed, “an emotionally charged performance” and “Both playwright and actor bare their souls.”
From 1994 to 2000, Bryan was the Artistic Director for the national Coast To Coast Theatre Company. In addition, Bryan founded and was the Artistic Director of the Ray Bradbury Play & Film Festival in Waukegan, Illinois.
Bryan made his professional acting debut at age 11 years old in a production of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. He directed his first professional stage play at age 17, directing the regional tour of a children’s show entitled JACK AND THE WISHING BEANS for the Roundtree Players. He has directed numerous professional stage productions including Midwest, West Coast and world premieres and developed over 40 world premieres with his theater companies.