Hey Chanel! I actually bought your calendar a few months ago, so it’s really cool to talk to you. How did your calendar come about?
The funny thing is, I was never planning on shooting a calendar. I had interest from people for me to do one. I was originally shooting to do a website. Somehow it snowballed into the calendar. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work. Most people think it’s easy, but I chose to do it myself. I did everything from start to finish… helping to design the swimsuits, scouting the locations, renting the motorhome, hiring everyone, overseeing the shots, choosing the designer, proofing, I did everything! It was a huge learing experience. Because I had such a good time I’m doing another one for 2005. It’s good stuff.
So, how long was the planning process from beginning to having the calendar in stores?
The idea was put into my head and I went out to shoot one day in downtown Los Angeles. We were actually shooting, like I said, for my website. A couple of different people from distribution companies saw the pictures and said, “Wow, these are really great. We’d love to put out a calendar for you.” From there, I didn’t have enough images. I had six or seven different set-ups. You know, I’m a perfectionist. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to really do it right. We needed an image for the cover, a 2003 page, 12 months, and a thank you page at the end. That’s 15 images. We decided to go shoot some more. We were trying to figure out where to shoot. It’s always amazing out in the desert. There’s sandy ground for as far as you can see and endless blue sky. We shot out in the desert but we had a problem. The calendar was going to be all vertical images. We decided to do them all double pages for each month – kinda like mini posters. We needed a horizontal shot for the cover and we didn’t shoot anything horizontal! We were like, “Oh God, we’ve gotta go shoot one more day!” We went back to the desert and had a blast. That was it.
What was the turnaround time after the photos were taken?
That was my first calendar and I made a lot of mistakes. When I do the next one I’m hiring someone to keep up with the production schedule. I’m deciding now for the next one…Am I going to shoot at some exotic resort, New Mexico, Hawaii, Tahiti, or locations around here? I’m not sure. It’s a lot of work. Not only are you the product, but you’re also overseeing everything. Everyone is coming to you with production questions, questions about the food, questions about everything!
I guess that explains the name of your company, right?
Babes With Brains…yeah. That would definitely be it. About the turnaround time, I didn’t plan it as well as I could have. We should’ve had a definitive shot list, like we need X amount of vertical shots and X amount of horizontal shots, so many in the water, some in the desert…I wasn’t like that for the calendar. I was like, “Woo, I like this bikini. Let’s shoot this!” We shot for three days and after that it went to the designer. That took a bit of time because the designer is out of state. He would FexEx me the proofs and I’d send them back to him. We finished everything in June. We cut it really close. The calendar was printed in July. That’s pushing it because everyone starts placing calendar orders in June. Everyone wants to see the calendar and the mock-up. That’s how the stores place orders. I was really behind the game. For example, my calendar for 2005 is debuting over in Europe in February! It’s crazy! They’re doing a bunch of my posters over there so I’m kinda hyped to get things rolling. They’ll be showing a mock-up, so it’s not the final product, but that’s how early they’re pushing it. It’s insane.
It sounds like you have a pretty busy schedule.
Yeah, I’m trying to figure out where to shoot the next one. I’m considering this because I want to and I think it would be amazing, I want to rent a house on a private beach somewhere in some exotic location. I’ve been online researching it! I found some places like down in Mexico. It’s a gorgeous cottage on the beach. I want to just go stay for like a month because I want a vacation so badly. I’m thinking I’ll just bring everyone out there and do the shoot in three weeks. Who knows?
I also noticed that along with the 2004 calendar you also have a DVD, right?
There is! Once again, this is my first one and I’ve learned so much as we’ve gone through it all. The night before the final day of shooting somebody mentioned, “Did you do a DVD?” We were like, “Oh shit!” So I made some phone calls and we shot it the next day. That’s how the DVD came about.
Now THAT is careful planning! What all is on the DVD?
You follow me on the ride out to the shoot. You get to meet my crazy dogs that are running around. You get to see me through a full day of shooting…All the different locations, the hair, the makeup, the whole deal. You get a feel for what it’s like had you been there actually shooting. We’re just running around having a good time.
What’s next for you? Don’t you have a book coming out soon?
I’m doing a couple of books. One of them is a modeling book. It’s sort of a guide for models. It’s secrets and tricks I wish somebody would’ve told me. They save you so much money and time and energy. I also incorporated some stories in there…some funny, some frightening, jobs – some good, some bad, and some awful! The other book I’m writing is like an idiots guide to a successful website.
What are some things you think make up a successful website?
Well, you’re gonna have to get the book if you want to find that out! I can’t give away all of my secrets.
Ok then, are you basing that on the success of your website?
Yes. I’m actually working with another writer who runs a bunch of websites. It’s tricks that we’ve both picked up on along the way. I think anyone can have a successful website if you’re willing to put the time and energy and effort into it. You get what you put into things, you know? There are so many tricks that I’ve learned within the last month that save so much time and energy. There are really easy ways to get your name out there and publicize things without spending a fortune. You just have to want to do it. You really need to be on it every day or have someone that works on it every day. I’m not trying to be vague with you but it’s all going to be in my book.
Did you always consider your website a top priority or did you perception change over time?
No, I didn’t. To be honest with you, I had a website a few years back and I was being taken advantage of. I wasn’t receiving my money and I pulled the plug on it. I didn’t want to do another website. My boyfriend at the time would not leave me along. Everyone had my images online and he was on my case to deal with that. He suggested I have my own website and I actually took the time and got a lawyer. I had everyone who had my images online take them down. Then I started my own site. I never wanted a website, to be honest with you. I think it’s a necessity in this day and age. If nothing else it helps my career. A lot of my clients are out of town. I mostly do direct bookings. Right there, that makes it incredibly easy. Instead of me putting together my information and whatever photos are appropriate and overnighting them, I can just have them log onto ChanelRyan.com. I’ve got the portfolio section online and my bio is on there. My commercial reel and everything they could need is on there. Instead of me hyping myself up and sounding like I’m full of it, they can just log on there and look! For that reason alone it’s invaluable.
You got to visit some cool outlets to promote your calendar. Tell me about the Howard Stern show.
Ooooh! I survived! Nothing prepares you for the Howard Stern show. I’m really great with interviews. I’ve done a lot of interviews but nothing can prepare you. You go in there and you’re being interrogated by five hostile people! I don’t care how confident you are or how great you are on camera, it’s really unnerving. You just have to go in, run with it and have fun. They’re going to do anything they can to get ratings and you just have to let it bounce off of you. Just say, “Yeah, yeah..He was huge!” There’s nothing else you can do. If something bugs you and they can tell it bugs you, they’ll really lay into you. If you deny something or act upset they’ll just let you have it! It was a great place to kick off my calendar. After the Stern show there is no interview I can’t take on. It’s live. It’s not like you can say, “Cut! I want to do that again!” Whatever happens, happens. The worse it is and the bigger jerk you make of yourself the more they’re going to play it. That will be the part they’re sure not to cut out.
Here’s a funny story. I’m from Pennsylvania. After the Stern show I went to a signing at the fye store. Two of my uncles were there. They surprised me. I left with them and went to Jersey and then went to Pennsylvania for a couple of days. On my way back from there I was going to Chicago to promote the calendar some more. Before I left I stayed with my aunt and uncle in New Jersey. It just so happened that they found out that my episode of the Howard Stern show was airing that night! Let me tell you, I did not tell them! My aunt gets on the phone – I have a huge family, a very Catholic family – she called everyone! My dad has eight or nine sisters and two brothers, so she called everyone and had my dad on speaker phone. I just wanted to die! I was horrified! I was downstairs and she came downstairs with me. We had a bottle of wine and watched it by ourselves. Not like I was horrified and humiliated enough, but sharing my deepest secrets with my aunts and uncles! I wasn’t really up for that! The one thing that did save me, the local news there also did a story on me that happened to air the same night. It kind of gave me back some of my credibility. Thank God!