Having fled a provincial past, a young, transgender prostitute searches for love and acceptance in a landscape of broken Hollywood dreams.

  • James Stenson
  • Elizabeth Racster
  • Kelly Van Ryan
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    49 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2012
  • Production Budget:
    55,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Slamdance Film Festival
    Park City, Utah
    United States
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival
    Atlanta, Georgia
    United States
    Best Drama Documentary Feature
  • Kansas City Film Fest International
    Kansas City
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
    Hot Springs, Arkansas
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Los Angeles Awareness Film Festival
    Los Angeles, California
    United States
    Winner of the Spirit Award
Director Biography - James Stenson

Producer, Director and DP James Stenson is Co-founder and Director of Do It England, an LA-based production company creating scripted and unscripted multi-platform content that delivers on impact and artistry. A visual story-teller with a background in documentary photography, Stenson collaborates with a talented production team that includes Co-founder, Liz Racster, a musician turned writer-producer who shares his passion for storytelling. Recent projects include branded content and marketing for the NFL, Amazon Prime, Intuit, the NFL Players Association, Apple, MTV, and behind-the-scenes content and the Dot and Brie Talk TV series for HULU.

Stenson has worked extensively with professional athletes from across the sports world, including collaborations with the US Women’s Soccer Team and Candace Parker.

Other clients include Warner Bros, BBC, UK Channels 4 and 5, HBO, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW, Sky Media, the Arts Council England, English National Opera, Twilio and Guthy-Renker among others.

Stenson’s photography has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, GQ, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Radio Times, FHM, Sunday Times Magazine, Telegraph Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, Time, Harpers, and on exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Originally from the UK, Stenson resides in Los Angeles, where he can be found on his favorite days, hanging out with his wife, two sons and the furry members of their family.

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Director Statement

At the age of sixteen, transgender adolescent Kelly Van Ryan left her rural origins in search of proverbial Hollywood fame and fortune. She arrived on the West Coast accompanied only by a childhood friend and a long-harbored desire for love and acceptance. Without a proper support network, Kelly was quickly thrust into a survival struggle that often typifies the quest for stardom in Los Angeles. Financial and personal frustrations eventually led to prostitution and drug abuse.

“Kelly” follows our protagonist as she confronts legal charges for drugs and prostitution, dwindling financial resources and clientele, and eventually homelessness. She revisits her hometown at the climax of her Hollywood misfortune, and must face the life and family she left behind. Through her travails, we see the tremendous, and tragically misguided lengths to which one will go to escape intolerance and pain.

The filming of Kelly was at times a dangerous endeavor. From aggressive streetwalkers and angry johns to seedy hotel clerks, we found ourselves often filming on the run. Director James Stenson even had to visit the hospital with acute asthma due to his prolonged exposure to second-hand crystal methamphetamine smoke.