Skip to main content

Holladay Journal

Love of movies and film production fuels Holladay filmmaker Spanky Ward

Mar 15, 2021 11:32AM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

Spanky Ward discusses frame size during the filming of “The Santa Box.” (Photo courtesy Chase Lewis)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Throughout his childhood and most of college, Spanky Ward did not know what he wanted to be when he “grew up.” Then, during his last two years at Weber State University, he was a college DJ. This led him to write and produce some radio commercials.

“Everyone loved what I made, and that’s when a love for writing hit me,” Ward said.

He did not want to stay in radio, however, and made three zero-budget films “far from perfect, but they got me some attention and started my career,” he said.

WSU did not have a film program at the time, so he majored in communications with a minor in English “though I’m horrible with grammar and can’t spell to save my life. Thank goodness for Spellcheck,” he said.

Ward had a chaotic and insecure childhood. He, his mother and older brother moved a lot. “We often lived with relatives because we were too poor to get a place of our own, so I spent a lot of my childhood sleeping on couches and floors. At one point we were homeless, living in my mom’s old car, which was parked in someone’s backyard,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be cold and starving; it’s no fun. So, I’ve had an interesting life so far. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t affected me in a negative way, but on the other hand I can follow the breadcrumbs back through my life and see how the trail has led to where I am now.”

Though his youth was difficult, Ward considers those experiences to be “fodder for the muse” and is grateful for those who helped him change and get where he is now.

He loved movies so much, he worked at three different video store chains and a movie theater before interning with companies producing films in Utah. He then began work on producing his own short films during his spare time.

“If you can’t find a producer to give you money to make your movies, you’re forced to do it all yourself. You end up wearing a lot of hats because you can’t afford to hire people,” Ward said. “So, I was the writer, director, producer, casting director, DP, editor and so on. All but the actor. The good thing is you learn how to do everything as you go. The bad thing is usually something suffers because you’re trying to do too much.”

Ward’s production company, Grizzly Chihuahua, LLC, comes from a scene in his first feature film he produced and directed called, “Hello, I Love You.” Since then, he wrote screenplays for “Riot,” “Ruling of the Heart,” “Christmas Break-in,” and many short films including commercials. Ward wrote, produced and directed “The Santa Box.”

Christmas is a recurring theme in his work. “Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the feeling of the season so much that I start celebrating it Nov 1. That way, I get an extra month of that Christmas mood. I love writing Christmas movies because you can include humor, drama, comedy all in the same story. Christmas movies are also dusted off every holiday season, so they have the opportunity to be introduced to new potential fans every season.”

Ward has lived in Holladay for 15 years and is happy. “I hope to construct a home here someday that will be the foundation I build the rest of my life on,” he said.

If you would like to learn more about Spanky Ward and his films, visit: