Today’s interview is with screenwriter Bryan Dick . Bryan has a degree in critical studies from University of Southern California. Since then, he has worked as the story editor at MTV reality tv show fear. Two screenplays written by him are now in active production, Vanished, and the Lion’s Den.
Justin Samuels:What exactly does a story editor do on a reality tv show? How are reality tv shows written?
Bryan Dick: When I worked on FEAR, that was over a decade ago. Reality TV wasn’t nearly as prolific as it is today. But what has probably remained the same is the style. You’re not creating a script with dialogue, action lines, parentheticals, etc. Instead, it’s more situational writing where you’re developing circumstances for your subjects or contestants that will create the most drama, laughs or in my case, frights.
JS: Did studying critical studies help prepare you for a career in screenwriting in any shape or form?
BD: Like most kids entering USC, my dream had been to get a degree in Production or Filmic Writing. But after a few failed attempts and at the suggestion of Dr. Drew Casper, I applied and got into the Critical Studies program. It couldn’t have been a better educational experience. For four years, I sat in front of a movie screen and saw the history of cinema play out before my eyes.
Every semester with my elective hours, I filled my schedule with screenwriting classes, which helped me develop the craft. It was the combination of those two things that had me ready to create quality content when I left school.
But unless you sell a spec in school, I don’t know if anything can prepare a writer for the struggles most of us encounter after graduation: the up and downs; starts and stops; the rejections, the maybes, the yes that later become no’s. It’s a rollercoaster, so be prepared.
JS: How was your overall experience at USC?
BD: For a kid from a small town in the panhandle of Oklahoma, LA could have been really intimidating, but from the moment I stepped on campus, USC, not just the Cinema School, provided a sense of community that made the transition very smooth. And I fell in love with the school. There’s no other way to put it.
JS: Did attending the Cinestory writing retreat help you improve your craft as a writer or help you land work? If so, how? Please tell us about your experience.
BD: From the interaction with the other writers to the three mentors I had for one-on-one sessions, the experience at Cinestory really reminded me of my days back at USC where I was just learning the craft of screenwriting.
Also, the mentors also gave a realistic view of industry life from the other side of the development desk, as well as the struggles working and non-working writers are going to face.
It was through Cinestory that I was introduced to Sharon Bordas at MarVista Entertainment who produced GONE MISSING. She read a script of mine, loved it, but it didn’t fit what they do. They had a concept that they needed a writer for, and when they asked me to do it, I jumped at the chance for my first assignment.
JS: What’s it like to be a panelist at Cinestory?
BD: I’ve only done a single webinar with CInestory this past week, and it’s weird being on the other side trying to dispense advice to other writers. There’s a certain pressure for me, because I don’t want to lead any writer astray with bad advice. My hope is with anything that they find a piece of information that makes them better or at least might inspire them to keep writing.
I graduated in from USC in 1999. Here we are now in 2013, and I’m just now getting to see something that I wrote being aired for mass consumption. This career path can be a marathon. So you need some patience. But if you keep at it, eventually it can happen.
JS: What’s your upcoming film Vanished about? When will Vanished be released?
BD: Gone Missing (originally titled Vanished) is airing on Lifetime June 15 th at 8pm EST/7pm CST. It centers on a mom whose daughter disappears on Senior Spring Break trip, and the mom sets out to find her.
JS: What’s your other upcoming film Lion’s Den about? When will it be released?
BD: Lion’s Den is going to be shot this summer in Canada
JS: Any cast we might know of in either of these films?
BD: Gone Missing stars Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place, One Tree Hill), Lauren Bowles (True Blood, Hall Pass), Bridgette Davidovici (Browsers), and Gage Golightly (Company Town, Teen Wolf).
JS: Do you have any other projects in development?
BD: Off the heels of Gone Missing, Mar Vista hired me for another project that has already been shot. So hopefully, we’ll be seeing that some time later this year.