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By Jaci Webb

Valley Journal

POLSON – Get ready to laugh and be amazed and inspired at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest next month in Polson.

The festival continues to expand and attract international filmmakers and special guests, including Adam Yenser, a comedian and Emmy Award-winning writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Yenser will show clips from the “Ellen Show” and share his comedic wit and cultural insights at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26.

FLIC takes place Jan. 25-27 in downtown Polson, where films will be shown at the Showboat Cinema on Main Street. Local businesses, including The Cove, Blodgett Creamery Coffee Saloon, and Vine and Tap will host special events. The Cove will host the Opening Night Party on Friday, Jan. 25 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening of Tim Ryan Rouiller’s documentary film, “My Grandpa’s Fiddle,” at 7 p.m. at the Showboat Cinema.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26, Blodgett’s Creamery Coffee will host an informal gathering of filmmakers and film fans. At 8:30 a.m. a special kids’ screening of “Little Foot” is on tap along with free breakfast sponsored by the Polson Rotary Club at the Showboat Cinemas. On Sunday, Jan. 27, the film “Schindler’s List” will be shown at 1 p.m. and the film’s producer Gerald Molen will host a Q&A following. Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Observance Day.

In a recent telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles, Yenser talked about his work on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and writing and appearing on the “Ellen Show” in his recurring role as Kevin the Cashier.

Yenser grew up in a working class family in Allentown, PA. His family was funny, but nobody dared to dream of becoming a professional performer. Until Yenser, that is.

“My family was very approving and supportive when I said I wanted to write comedy,” Yenser said. “I always think there is some natural talent or affinity for comedy, but the timing and the structure of it you can learn. Getting out there and doing comedy is better than any class you can take.”

Yenser is a graduate of Penn State University and he returned to his alma mater in 2017 to give the commencement address.

“When you are giving a commencement speech, you have to be meaningful and funny,” Yenser said. “I had to write a speech with a positive message and that got a lot of laughs. It was a great honor.”

Yenser’s first stabs at comedy sketches were written and filmed when he was in the sixth grade. Inspired by “Saturday Night Live,” Yenser and his friends would get together and create comedy sketches. Yenser never stopped.

After getting his start as an intern and later staff writer for Conan, Yenser became a freelance contributor to SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment as well as the Oscars. But five days a week, he’s working on the “Ellen Show,” a job he loves. Yenser’s blue-collar roots give him the strong work ethic he needs to stay busy in the entertainment business.

“I work from 9 to 6 every day and every now and then there are shoots on the weekends. I also try to go out and do standup at least once a week and I am doing independent sketches as well.”

Yenser said a spring trip a few years back to Glacier National Park made him jump at the chance to return to Montana for FLIC. He had worked previously with FLIC director David King on a project with Kelsey Grammer and has great respect for King.

“I really connected with him,” Yenser said of King.

Valley Journal: Country star, St. Ignatius native Tim Ryan kicks off Polson film festival in January

Nov 27, 2018

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By Jaci Webb

Valley Journal

POLSON – The Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, FLIC, is celebrating its seventh year with an amazing array of special guests coming Jan. 25-27.

One of the most familiar names for Polson-area folks is Tim Ryan Rouillier, an award-winning country singer/songwriter who grew up in St. Ignatius and played bars in the Mission Valley as a teenager.

Rouillier, who uses Tim Ryan as his professional name, will help kick off the festival on Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. with a special screening of his symphonic memoir musical, “My Grandpa’s Fiddle: The Soundtrack of My Life.” The showing at Showboat Cinema on Main Street will be followed by a Q & A with Ryan, an event bound to be as colorful as the songwriter himself.

Another special guest for the 2019 FLIC is comedian and Emmy-Award winning comedy writer, Adam Yenser, who will share insights from his work on “The Ellen DeGeneras Show” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. Gerald R. Molen, who grew up in Great Falls, and produced many hit movies, will present the film “Schindler’s List,” which he produced, at noon on Jan. 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

FLIC attracts film entries from across the world, and last year two-dozen filmmakers attended the event. The festival features Montana-made films, Indigenous films, and films about the environment, as well as documentary and narrative shorts and features.

Ryan has spent more than three decades in Nashville, writing and recording music with many of the greats, including Randy Travis and George Strait. But Ryan never stopped loving the people and the land of Montana and a few years back, he decided to write a love letter to Montana. His heartfelt lyrics and witty storytelling are the soundtrack to the documentary film that Ryan spent years putting together. Ryan shot hundreds of hours of video across Montana over a period of four years and then learned how to edit the footage for the film. Ryan enlisted FLIC director David King to produce the video of Ryan’s live stage presentation. “My Grandpa’s Fiddle” has aired on PBS stations across the country and so far, upwards of 100 million people have viewed it.

Like the title says, Ryan’s grandfather, Vic Cordier, was a fiddle player, who taught Ryan to love music as much as he did. They played many shows together over the years, starting when Ryan was just seven years old.

In a recent telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Ryan talked about his connection to the old-timers in the Mission Valley, especially his grandfather. Ryan’s speaking voice is as melodious as his pitch-perfect tenor. It’s full of cheerfulness and humor.

“I loved being around the older people, the guitar players, the storytellers,” Ryan said.

By the time Ryan was in seventh grade, he was a guitar player and the lead singer of a band. He would play bars in the Mission Valley, including Diamond Horseshoe on Flathead Lake in Polson where the crowd was so rowdy, a fight broke out many nights.

“The bartender would say, ‘If a fight breaks out, don’t stop playing.’ These guys would be flinging tables across the room and the dancers didn’t even know what was going on back there because we were still playing music.”

Ryan and his wife Peggy moved to Nashville in 1987 to make their mark. Ryan wanted to become a professional songwriter with a record deal and Peggy wanted to “reach high in finance,” Ryan said.

“I got signed to CBS Records within three months and had a hit record out nine months later,” Ryan said.

That charting hit was “Dance in Circles,” a lively, but tender tune about dancing with your sweetheart. The video for the song was shot on his home turf in St. Ignatius and his grandfather is the fiddler in it. Ryan’s name started to swirl around star circles in Nashville and he got offers to join bands, including Restless Heart and Little Big Town.

“But I wanted to be out by myself. The great thing is I get to tell my story,” Ryan said.

These days, Ryan is working on putting together a live tour of “My Grandpa’s Fiddle,” featuring symphonic orchestras across the country. And where will he kick it off? Montana, of course. Look for it in 2020.