For those of you with great stories- be they books, scripts, true stories, or other, Brandy Rivers is a person you want to know. As Manager and Production Executive for Magnet Entertainment, she handles both film makers and literary talent, as well as spearheading original projects from development through production. Ms. Rivers brings an elite history of experience having worked with some of our industry’s most prolific Producers at Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Summit Entertainment.
We’re privileged to have her share her thoughts and insight with our members and friends at the TV/Film
TVFilmRights.com – Thank for sharing your time with us, Brandy. How’d the summer turn out for you at Magnet?
Brandy Rivers – Of course! It’s been very busy as we’re currently pitching TV series while also developing feature films with our clients.
TVFR: How did you find your start in the film industry, and what brought you to your position with Magnet?
BR: I was very fortunate to get my start working at Jerry Bruckheimer Television. I worked under Jonathan Littman, President of JBTV and a prolific Executive Producer, and was lucky enough to work on current and development for such shows as the CSI franchise, WITHOUT A TRACE, COLD CASE, and E RING. After years in television, I took a leap of faith and joined Summit Entertainment so I could learn the film business. It was at Summit where I really got to see first hand the filmmaking process, working on projects like TWILIGHT, SEX DRIVE, and KNOWING. It was there were I fell in love with books to film. Really wanting to combine the three areas (TV, Film, and Publishing) I joined Magnet.
TVFR: Magnet not only Produces for major studios, but manages talent such as Writers and Film Makers. How does this enrich your job? Are you involved in the early development stages?
BR: Yes, I come on board in the very early stages. Sometimes I will find a book, article, idea, or even just a title and bring a writer on board to turn it into a movie. That process is emotional, creative, and very fulfilling. It’s what I came here to do.
The most enriching part of my job is working with and finding young writers. Having a unique voice in your writing is talent, but understanding the very tough market is a learned skill. I love helping writers understand that process.
TVFR: Can you name a few of your favorite projects you’ve worked on? And what, specifically, did you love about that process?
BR: Wow, I don’t even know where to start. Some of my favorites are the ones I’m selling right now… I have several TV shows and an animation feature that I’m pitching. And right now, those projects are my babies. The others feel like I raised them and they went off to college already.
TVFR: At the TVFilmRights.com we have a variety of writers and producers, selling screenplays, concepts, book sub-rights, true stories and life story rights. What types of projects do you gravitate toward when scouting? What do you prefer to produce?
BR: I gravitate towards things that are unique and interesting. A unique voice, a fresh story, or even a fresh take on an old story. I realize that may not be as specific as you want, but honestly, anything that catches my eye, I want to see.
TVFR: Can you share some insight on Magnet? Where is their focus, and what types of projects do you see yourself producing with them in the future?
BR: Passion. Passion drives everything in this business and it’s 100% what drives us. If it’s something we are willing to fight for everyday, then we’re going to do it.
TVFR: If someone has a truly amazing story or life experience that may translate well for film, do they need to be a Writer in order to sell that as a project? I guess, more specifically, for true stories… how much detail and material do you need to take it on?
BR: Actually, in most cases I would say that if someone has a true life story, it’s better if they do not want to write it. It’s totally fine if you are a writer, but writing your own story is actually much harder than you may expect. In translating to film/tv some things have to be changed to make it more commercial, or make the character arcs work, etc… people writing their own life story, don’t feel as comfortable changing things as another writer would. And lastly, you’d be amazed at how many people find the story more emotional when small elements have been created to make the adaption more suitable for the big screen. I have done this so many times, that when someone comes to me and wants to write their own story, I try to sway them away from. For everyone’s sake.
TVFR: How do you feel services like TVFilmRights.com help the industry, and process of filmmaking?
BR: It gets more stories out there. If there wasn’t a resource for this, the rest of the world wouldn’t have a voice in Hollywood.
TVFR: What part of your profession do you enjoy the most?
BR: Creating. Everyday my job is to create. Make characters more interesting, set pieces bigger or more innovative, story plot cleaner and easier to follow. Having a vision and collaborating is what this business is about, and it’s so exciting to me. And nothing feels more satisfying and rewarding than seeing the finished product for the first time.
TVFR: What’s the greatest challenge of Producing?
BR: Finding great material. And of course, getting all of your filmmakers to be available at the same time. Movies fall apart over schedules.
TVFR: As a movie-fan, what genres are your personal favorites to watch.
BR: Comedy, Thrillers and big Action. Mostly, great stories that involve well developed and interesting characters. If it makes me laugh, cry and even get a little scared, I’m in. But no Horror.
TVFR: Is Hollywood today as closed as it is always been perceived, or has it grown to be a truly collaborative industry that’s open to groundbreaking concepts and new talent?
BR: With the internet it’s much more open. I have signed clients off of youtube videos, blogs, and make book deals for blogger who didn’t even think of themselves as a writer. I have seen one guy go from completely broke, with no car, place to live, etc to making a million dollars the following year. If this business is your passion, listen to the feedback that you get, learn, and keep creating. Never give up.
TVFR: What advice can you give to the aspiring Screenwriter, related to selling projects?
BR: Selling scripts is hard in this climate, so my biggest piece of advice would be to make sure your characters are very well developed. Your characters are people too, and a writer should think about them that way. What drives them, why are they doing what they are doing, and a writer should know the small things too. This will help make your characters more relatable, and easier to follow throughout the story. Here’s a list of some of things that you should ask yourself when creating a new character for your script:
Also, tell a story that is true to who the writer is as a person. The more someone can relate to their story, they can put a piece of themselves on the page. This will shine through and show a strong voice. If you don’t sell your script, it will probably at least lead to industry recognition.
TVFR: Any message you’d like to send to publishers selling their book sub-rights at TVFilmRights.com? Any mandate to pass along?
BR: Great ideas are hard to come by… they always stand out. And remember in this business you’re only out when you quit.
TVFR: Thanks for being with us. We look forward to your continued success!
BR: It has been my pleasure!
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