Dyrk Ashton is a writer, educator, filmmaker and former actor active in story telling and media making. Born and raised in the American midwest, he currently resides in Ohio, but the fantasy landscape is the place he calls home.
Dyrk was born in Athens (Ohio, not Greece), on Halloween. He was shortly thereafter carted to Hampton, Virginia, which he doesn't remember in the least, where his father had a job working as an electrical engineer in the Navy yards. Then it was to the idyllic ravines, apple orchards and blackberry patches of Chagrin Falls, OH, where he actually got a pony when he was five years old -- an ornery Shetland named Jasper who had a penchant for beer and stepping on feet. Jasper was also five. Damned thing lived to be 36.
After first grade, it was off to the farm country of NW Ohio, south of Toledo, where his parents still reside today. There Dyrk whiled away his adolescent years in cornfields, woods, rivers, ditches and haymows, climbing trees, running along barn beams, riding, wrestling, soccering, fighting BB gun wars, reading Stuart Little, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, everything Verne, London, Kipling, White, Lewis, Doyle, Burroughs, Poe, Howard, Fleming, Lovecraft, Tolkein, Zelazny, and generally ignoring school -- though he somehow managed excellent grades (except in Algebra, of course).
At the age of 16 he traded a horse for his first car (really), a Volkswagen Beetle, which he proceeded to wrap around a telephone pole on the way to a high school soccer game within the year. All survived, and it was time for college. A year at Ohio University and a year at The University of Toledo, begrudgingly studying business until his father said, “Just go take what you want.” So five more years it was, at The Ohio State University for a BFA and Masters in filmmaking (woo hoo!).
College gave way to working in film production in Columbus, OH (professionally, mind you), clawing his way up from production assistant to grip then production manager and producer for commercials, industrial films and low budget features. He then headed west to Los Angeles where he wrote and pitched scripts but fed and clothed himself as a "jack-of-all-trades”: editor, assistant editor, location sound recordist, cinematographer, assistant director, production manager, producer, you name it.
Mostly, however, he made his living as a SAG/AFTRA actor, appearing in nothing you have ever seen. And if you have seen it, he was probably in it so briefly you missed him. It can be done, acting professionally, even if you have no talent but are good at auditioning and have a look that very few actors and no regular folks can pull off. He didn’t earn a lot of money and whatever he did make is long gone (L.A. is expensive), but he did get to travel quite a bit, including an eight week stint in Kandy, Sri Lanka (and it was awesome).
After nearly six years of scraping by in L.A., he realized he probably wouldn’t, in all actuality, die if he never got to make a big Hollywood film, so he moved back to the Midwest and went to Bowling Green State University for a PhD in Film Studies. He wrote a dissertation on The Lord of the Rings movies. And they gave him a diploma. Shocking. Then he got hired as a professor. Even more shocking. Apparently PhDs are tossed out like parade candy these days and just about anyone is allowed to warp the minds of our precious youth.
Seven years teaching full time and he’d had enough of that. Too much like real work. Besides, online education was on the rise and opportunities abounded. No more committees. No more 60 or 70 hour weeks. No more not really having summers off.
Once he resigned from his tenure track position and began teaching independently and entirely online, Dyrk found he had time to read books -- fiction, sci-fi, fantasy -- not just academic journals and textbooks. Then he realized he actually had time to write. And so he did, bringing to bear his lifelong fascination with mythology and storytelling and gathering together (some clearly ridiculous) ideas he’d had for years.
The result is Paternus, the first in a trilogy of contemporary fantasy adventures for grown ups. Writing novels is something he’d always wanted to do but never had the time, gumption, or the maturity, more likely, to actually do. He’s found he loves the writing process, actually needs it, and will continue to write even if nobody buys the stuff.
Still, he’s been heard to paraphrase the immortal line of Billy Mack (played by the ever fantastic Bill Nighy), from Love Actually: “If you believe in Father Christmas, children, like your Uncle Dyrky does, buy my festering turd of a novel.”
Dyrk likes to be outdoors as much as possible, adores the beach (not much of that near Toledo, though) -- and has it been mentioned he loves movies? He’s a fan of all things fantasy, sci-fi and comic book inspired, but his tastes range dramatically. Some of his favorites, in no particular order: The Burmese Harp, Once Upon a Time in the West, Network, Stalker, Woman in the Dunes, The Seven Samurai, A Clockwork Orange, Koyaanisqatsi, The Lord of the Rings, Children of Men... the list goes on and on.
And yes, Dyrk Ashton is his real name. He’s been told many times it sounds like the screen name of a soap actor or porn star. Cool. Truth is, his father is of (mixed) English descent, and his mother (mixed) Scottish, (a Campbell, no less, though her father always emphasized that they were highland Campbells, not lowland. The highland Scots fought against the English, the lowlands sided with them, you see). Anyway, Dyrk’s mom liked the way the name looked when spelled with a “y” instead of the more common “i.” So there.
ABBREVIATED ACTORS FILMOGRAPHY
- The Tonight Show w/Jay Leno (two skit appearances, NBC), 1995
Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo. Columbia/TriStar, dir. Duncan McLachlan), 1996
Days of Our Lives (recurring U/5, ABC), 1998
The Osiris Chronicles (principal, Paramount, dir. Joe Dante), 1998
Mojave Moon (principal, dir. Kevin Dowling), 1996
Men in Black (extra, S.P.E., dir. Barry Sonnenfeld), 1996
- Savage (principal, dir. Avi Nesher), 1995
- The Fantasticks (principal, MGM/UA, dir. Michael Ritchie), 1995
- Commercial spots including principal roles for Levi’s, Dunlop Tires, Lion Candy Bars, and Bud Lite, 1995-1998
Music videos including Don Henley (dir. Jake Scott), and Jeff Foxworthy (dir. Al Yankovic), 1995-1997
Night of the Living Dead, 1990 (Truck Zombie, dir. Tom Savini)
SELECTED ACADEMIC WORKS
"Feeling Time: Deleuze’s Time-Image and Effect" (and The Lord of the Rings). Essay. Rhizomes.
"Deleuzian Reflections in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings." Paper delivered at Intl. Tolkien Conference, University of Vermont.
"Deleuze, Bioethics and Journo-realism in Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men." Co-writer/presenter Dr. Benjamin Pryor. Paper delivered at Film & History Conference, Chicago.
"Film History, Media Representation and Cultural Appropriation: A Case Study of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Paper delivered at UFVA Intl. Conference, University of South Carolina, Columbia.