Ethan Paisley is the new talk of the town in La La Land He’s got the resume of Spielberg and the spirit of a wild panther. He is one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming, garnering praise for his 20+ film and TV credits from an extensive list of film festivals, top tier press, and celebrity sources. Less than a month ago Ethan was the first to win Best Young Director at the Young Entertainer Awards, followed up by a win for a different film at the San Mauro Torinese Film Festival. A week later he was invited to speak on a panel at Cannes Lions. A couple days after that, his second (yes, second) feature film signed a deal with Amazon Prime for international release. James Franco’s brother Tom calls him “a natural formula for a lifelong pursuit of artistry.”
There is no denying, Ethan Paisley (Ethan Brooks Paisley, according to Wikipedia) is a boy on fire.
Ethan’s exclusive behind-the-scenes talent for film producing has earned him status as one of Hollywood’s most recently sought-after youth talents. He has over five projects in development: three independent films, a TV series, and a documentary. To add to that, he’s deciding on an agent and manager to sign with to share his workload with. He’s 17.
I wanted to interview Ethan to get a sense for how he plans to navigate the alluring and frequently dangerous nature of the business as he transitions into his adult career. How is a kid out of high school supposed to stay sane with such heavy working conditions, microscopic attention, and considerable industry power? Too many a time, we’ve seen this equation fail.
PMM: How’s LA treating you?
EP: I love it there. I miss it constantly. I still live in San Francisco with my family but I’m moving to LA in the fall. Well, there or New York. Depending on my final college decision. There’s been lots of back and forth about that.
EP: Well, sort of. It’s more about which college to choose. I value my education and the idea of becoming more than just one thing. I don’t want to simply just make movies for a living. I’d like to be good at lots of different things. There’s seriously so much more to learn about than just how to earn back your returns on some one-hit-wonder Sudance film. I’m afraid of being boring that way.
PMM: How did you get into the business so early? Was it forced?
EP: I never gave myself any options, so I guess you could say I forced it on myself. I started acting and modeling because it was a natural fit for the direction of my energy and passion. I slowly but surely unveiled my passion for film producing, but there’s still a ways to go. No matter who says it, there is no 17 year old on this planet who is 100% confident in what they want to do for the rest of their lives. In 10 years, I could be the managing editor of Teen Vogue for all I know. I sorta have the urge to say that to people now and then. The industry always backs you into a corner shoving life and career advice down your throat. There’s a great quote my mom always tells me, which is “I’m not negotiating who I am to satisfy what someone else wants.” I’m just now realizing I have all this time to live my life and try different things! That said, I’m in love with what I do now, I’m just trying not to take my life super seriously and keep more of an open mind about my future.
PMM: What are your thoughts on the negative connotation associated with Young Hollywood?
EP: [Young] Hollywood moves very quickly. I think of it like speeding on a freeway, in an unfamiliar location, and if you’re not careful, you can get hurt and lost really easily. Lots of young people rush into the business, not even sure if it’s what they want. When successes add up, it can distract from expanding into your full potential. Entertainment faces the crisis of ageism: it’s all about what’s the most controversial, what’s the most attractive, and what sells. Beautiful young people achieving a 40-year-old’s career satisfies this equation. But I’m happy I got my start young and I’m grateful my parents let it be my decision. I know enough about myself and my skill set to decide the direction of my career and all decisions that come out of that.
PMM: Those who are successful young usually have unique qualities that separate them from
the rest. What do you thinks make you special?
EP: To be honest, I know how to talk on the phone. I know how to talk to my audience. I know how to ask for what I want. I also know that your success in this business has absolutely nothing to do with artistic merit. If every “talented” person I knew had a job in Hollywood, Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood. You have to be an entrepreneur and treat this business like any other.
PMM: What’s one thing your fans don’t know about you that you wish they did?
EP: I hope as my audience grows, it helps shine light on all the artistic endeavors my family endures as well. I come from a creative background: my dad is a musician, my mom is a visual artist, and my brother Miles is a guitarist and a soon-to-be model. I’m very proud of my roots. Also, I’m single, if anyone’s interested. Haha.
PMM: Before we go, can you let us in on some of the new projects you’re working on?
EP: I’m really immersed in the distribution process right now, and I’m trying to traffic lots of content to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, and more VOD destinations. I’m also in-development for some really exciting new movies and episodics, working with people I admire. I can’t say much about that though! And I’m agent-manager hunting right now! I need a second head to help me package material and choose projects. There’s a lot happening right now, but
everything is coming together super nicely. I’m becoming a more grateful person. It certainly seems Mr. Paisley has a strong head on his shoulders, and we foresee big things for him in the coming year. You can visit his website www.ethanpaisley.com or follow him on social media @ethanbpaisley to keep up with his wild endeavors. Or visit the following