Many people ask where I've been. Or when will they see my face back on their TV? Well, the first part I'll answer as best I can. Doing "Paranormal State" was a massive undertaking and when I informed A&E in 2011 that I would not be returning, it was largely due to exhaustion. I had been followed by a camera crew since my final moments in college up until my late-20s. I hadn't known anything else. And there are other responsibilities that come when you "star" in a hit TV show that happens to be a documentary/reality program. You're not an actor playing a doctor where you read lines. I was, and am, a real paranormal investigator. What you saw in the show were my cases. The judgment calls and direction the cases went in were by my decisions. In other words, despite the TV crew, I was working as a full-time paranormal investigator. Now, add the TV crew and you have another job on top of that.
The show was a hit for A&E and I was invited to participate in some pretty cool (yet sometimes intimidating) rounds of promotion for the seasons. Before the series premiered, the show was promoted everywhere. Billboards in NYC and LA. Trailers in movie theaters. Interviews on hundreds of radio shows and national TV programs. Being a part of the show, which in my mind was simplified as just a camera-crew documenting PRS' work, suddenly involved stepping into a whole new arena that wasn't part of my norm. Going on talk shows, doing guest appearances, etc. was something (and still is) entirely different. Now, you really are being a public figure.
Eventually I took on the role of showrunner during its final season, serving as executive producer (meaning I wasn't just given the title, I actually performed EP duties). I had no idea how f-ing hard that would be. I was warned by one of my producers that people starring in and executive producing their own TV show is extremely rare, and for a reason. I totally see why. I my case, I am an idealist when it comes to my work. When you make a TV show, on the other hand, it's a collaborative creative process. Doesn't matter if it's documentary or a fictional movie. You have producers, a network, a director, camera men, editors, and then us. How the crew decides to shoot around us is a collaborative effort. Before I served as EP, my notes were simple: just stay out of my way and don't make the clients uncomfortable. When I became closer to the production process, well, suddenly I found myself having to deal with things like employees, budget issues and figuring out the tone/feel for episodes. Sometimes, when having conversations with the editors, I had to talk about me as if I were a character on screen when discussing rough cuts. It was bizarre. I got over it, but the best way to describe the experience is this: it was like merging your personal and professional life together. Your wife is also your employee or vice-versa. Made things hard. Thankfully, the season was successful and for me, it was a major learning experience. I even directed some episodes.
If you get experience the success of a hit TV show, you have a choice of either embracing it or not. I think I went back and forth. I'm much older now. Maybe not by some people's standards, but being 33 feels much different than 23. And thank God for that.
If you've been a fan since at least 2012, you know that I had some health issues. After working non-stop for so many years, even prior to "Paranormal State," I had to stop in my tracks. And focus on my health, well-being and personal life. In life, shit happens, as they say. I thought my personal problems would be short-lived. Probably due to the impatience I have. But as fate would have it, I needed a few years of a different pace. After various surgeries, re-discovering what having a "personal life" is like and then some up's and down's, I find myself here, today, rising to the surface.
It's no secret to all of my friends and family that I've become a bit of a hermit. I've always been reclusive. Just my nature. I once asked why I didn't get asked to do appearances at paranormal conventions and my friend responded, "because they figure you'd say no." Hmm. Fair enough.
Over the past couple of years I made attempts to resurface but fate wasn't done with me. People often like to say, "take care of yourself. Take things slow. Get better first." That's genuinely hard for me to understand. I can't, for example, fix my busted right hip (which I had surgery on in May). And after surgery, my job was to lay, sleep, eat and just "heal." No walking for a few weeks. Then, crutches. And so on. Hard to focus on other things.
No one likes a sob story, and I most definitely prefer to keep my personal life and health issues private. I've acknowledged them to a point so my fans have a general understanding of why I've had to just accept the fact that I've had to bow out for a while. And part of that also was necessary. I once told myself I'd do another show or project after enough time had passed where I could look back at "Paranormal State" and, at least in my mind, it would feel like a different lifetime.
It's been four years. And I have, arguably, a healthy enough body (despite some wear and tear) to now decide my future. Since the Spring, I've found myself going through different levels as I rise to the surface. There was a period of time where I wasn't online for at least six months. Didn't really touch a computer. People gave updates for me. So, returning back to all of this, which I love dearly, is becoming a unique experience itself.
It doesn't just feel like returning to the norm. Not one bit. For example, I started training new investigators for PRS. It felt like old times standing by the podium, but, times have changed. It's new. After nearly two years since my last public appearance, I'm finally going out there. And interviews? I've said yes to most who've written in. Why not? Gives them some experience and gets me out of my usual. You don't have to be CNN or FOX News to get my attention for an interview.
Now, as for the second question. When will I return to TV? The answer to that is when I want to. Sounds pretentious, I know. I'm not proclaiming that I can just walk in to a network, drop my Director's Coat and proclaim "I'll take THAT time slot and we begin next month. Oh! And I do not get out of bed for anything under $1 million an episode!" :) I've had offers over the years, and with most of them, I found myself entertaining them because I felt I HAD to do them instead of asking whether or not I SHOULD do them. And some were genuinely great ideas, but, as they say, health comes first.
I've been talking to some folks. We're seeing what we can come up with. If it's meant to be, it'll happen. I'm working on two books (which feels like forever now), but they're near completion. I'm finishing things I started years ago and, finally, I'm starting a few new things.
With this website, you'll find that it probably doesn't "act" like a typical website should be for a TV personality, author or whatever. In one area you have short stories. In another, news articles. And then, of course, my general rants. If I'm going to devote time to a site, I want to enjoy it. And, since the title of the website is called Ryan Buell, I do believe I'm entitled to some self-indulgence. :)
I'm a writer, journalist, producer, director, paranormal investigator and... I probably forgot a few other things. We're all diverse.
Now that I feel I am close to the surface, bobbing up and down, I look forward to sharing many new projects with you. The future is what we make of it. I did a lot of exciting things in my 20s. Let's see where I go in my 30s.