Mountainfilm: Ryan Suffern & “The Orchestra Chuck Built”!

Mountainfilm: Ryan Suffern & “The Orchestra Chuck Built”!

Based in Telluride, Mountainfilm celebrates its 45th year in the heart of the San Juan mountains, May 25-29, 2023. This year the annual gathering of the tribe pays tribute to the life and triumphs of dear friend and elite athlete Hilaree Nelson.

One of the weekend’s heart-warming stories is “The Orchestra Chuck Built.” The doc was  produced by Mountainfilm regular (8 years) Ryan Suffern, a Grammy-winning and Emmy-nominated director/producer, who previously headed up the documentary division, (which he co-founded), for The Kennedy/Marshall Company.

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Producer Ryan Suffern and Director Christopher Stoudt, “The Orchestra Chuck Built,” credit Sam Painter.

The dictionary defines “hero” as “a person of distinguished courage and/or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities and courage.”

Or, according to Joseph Campbell, “a hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

Heroes come in many shapes and forms. By any and all definitions Chuck Dickerson III is a shining example.

Chuck and his work are celebrated in Grammy-winning and Emmy-nominated director/producer Ryan Suffern’s latest project: “The Orchestra Chuck Built.”

Ryan co-founded the documentary division of The Kennedy/Marshall Company and, at the start of his career in 2002, scored a position as one of Steven Spielberg’s assistants. Over the past decade, he has helped to produce over 25 documentaries, ranging in topics from music to sports to social causes – with human interest always at the heart of his beautifully crafted stories.

Human interest abounds in “The Orchestra Chuck Built” in the person of Chuck himself, and also in his gifted black, brown and Asian students, a number of whom will be in Telluride over Memorial Weekend.

Note: The following images are all courtesy “The Orchestra Chuck Built”:


For much more listen to Ryan Suffern’s podcast.

Ryan Suffern, more:

Ryan, credit, Justin Kane.

As a director, Ryan Suffern helmed the award-winning FINDING OSCAR, which Steven Spielberg executive produced in association with USC Shoah Foundation.

Ryan co-directed and produced with Frank Marshall JAZZ FEST: A NEW ORLEANS STORY for Sony Pictures Classics. He directed a docuseries on A&M Records for EPIX, along with A FINAL CUT FOR ORSON: 40 YEARS IN THE MAKING for Netflix, documenting the finishing of Orson Welles’s THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND.

Ryan has produced numerous other documentary titles, including THE CHINA HUSTLE, SATAN & ADAM, THE MAN VS THE MACHINE and the Emmy-nominated docuseries LAUREL CANYON: A PLACE IN TIME.

He served as an executive producer on THE GIFT: THE JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH, a YouTube Originals release, and HBO’s THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART, as well as the Paul McCartney / Rick Rubin docuseries for Hulu, MCCARTNEY 3,2,1.

Ryan is originally from the Chicagoland suburbs.

As an English major at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. he cut his teeth in the film industry, working as a set PA in the independent film scene in Chicago. Ryan moved to Los Angeles in 2002, where he was fortunate enough to earn a spot as one of Steven Spielberg’s assistants. While working for Spielberg, Ryan was responsible for documenting the action behind-the-scenes for four different films, which essentially marked the beginning of his documentary filmmaking career.

Before teaming up with Frank Marshall on ESPN’s award-winning RIGHT TO PLAY, which Ryann edited and helped to film, he worked extensively with the Belfast singer-songwriter Duke Special, producing and directing numerous music videos and short documentaries.

Ryan also co-directed, produced and edited OUT & AROUND, which documented a lesbian couple’s year-long journey to 15 different countries, seeking out the leaders of the LGBTQ movement.

Chuck Dickerson III, more:

Chuck Dickerson, courtesy, “The Orchestra Chuck Built.”

Chuck is founder, artistic director and conductor of the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. Over his 40+ years of conducting, he has directed performances of many of the greatest orchestral and choral works throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

He has prepared choruses for concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestras and also holds important compositional and arranging credits. His best-known work is “I Have A Dream,” a choral and orchestral setting of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark speech performed for the unveiling ceremonies the King Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC, and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as Los Angeles County’s official celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the speech.

Chuck has held important public and civic leadership positions in Washington DC and Los Angeles and is an avid baseball fan.

  • DeForest Kirkwood
    Posted at 13:12h, 12 May

    Excellent work!!!1

  • Althea Waites
    Posted at 14:40h, 12 May

    Congratulations for producing this most inspiring film about Charles and his orchestra.
    I look forward to seeing it!