The Daily Illini

Ryan Suffern is a Los Angeles-based director and producer who has helped to produce more than 25 documentaries – and received a 2023 Grammy Award for Best Music Film for “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story.”

Ryan’s documentaries range in topics from music to sports to social causes, but always with an emphasis on the human interest at the heart of the story. Ryan directed the award-winning “Finding Oscar” (with Steven Spielberg as executive producer), and he regularly teams with noted director and producer Frank Marshall, with whom he shared this year’s Grammy.

Ryan was a photo editor during his years with The Daily Illini, and after college pursued the film industry in Chicago and then Los Angeles, where he earned a spot as one of Spielberg’s assistants. While working for Spielberg, Suffern had the responsibility of documenting the behind-the-scenes on video for four different films, which was the beginning of his documentary filmmaking career.

This bio was written at the time of Ryan Suffern’s inauguration into the 2023 Illini Media Hall of Fame.