Life’s Wisdom, with Alan Brown Movie Producer

About ALAN BROWN

About Alan Brown:

 

Alan R. Brown began his career in the entertainment industry more than thirty years ago. After attending Seattle University, he started as a production assistant for T.V.C. Studios, a production and post production facility located in New York. Three years later, he accepted a job with Osprey Productions. There, he was involved with two Emmy-winning productions, and numerous Gold, Silver, and Bronze Cine Eagle Awards on Documentaries. His mentor and supervisor, Craig Fisher, was the President of the Writers Guild of America East, and the owner of Osprey Productions. Before leaving Osprey, Alan attained the position of Senior V.P. of  Productions.

 

In 1986, he joined Joseph E. Levine Presents as a story editor.  Upon the passing of Joseph Levine a year later, Alan became President of Production. His job duties ranged from supervising the overall production of feature films, debt structuring, and the worldwide rights sales of such films as And Now My Love and A Bridge Too Far to the producing and story editing of Thunder Born. He also supervised and managed both the assets and debts of the Levine film library on behalf of the Estate and Citibank.

 

In 1990, Alan was the executive producer of the Year of the Comet for Castlerock Entertainment/Columbia Pictures; and in 1991, he was contracted to produce Sea Kings for Universal Studios, starring Sean Connery. Both screenplays were written by William Goldman.

 

From 1993 to 1995, while serving on the Board of Directors of National Video Industries, a Production/Post Production facility in New York, Alan directed and edited the story and film, The Three Golden Keys for Marly Rusoff at Double Day.

 

In 1995, he was contracted to produce Pat Conroy’s Beach Music with Alan Ladd Jr. for Paramount Pictures, starring Brad Pitt.  Negotiations for the sale of the property generated heated debate throughout the industry as reflected in the articles of Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and Liz Smith’s nationally syndicated column.  It was the first agent-less deal of this magnitude in Hollywood history with Alan Brown handling all negotiations on behalf of the writers.

 

During this period, Alan was a guest faculty member and speaker for the University of South Carolina’s Low Country Writers’ Conference, whose members included many of America’s most illustrious southern writers.  Alan taught a course on adapting novels to screenplays.

 

Between 2001 and 2003, Alan was under contract to a European film fund. He had the responsibility of identifying, structuring the financing, and negotiating long term distribution contracts with the studios. His job also included distribution, and general entertainment consulting duties (identifying and packaging scripts, directors and talent).

 

In 2007, under his own company banner, Mr. Brown arranged the funding for a foreign film fund, and coordinated the bridge and outside independent financing for their clients.

 

Mr. Brown currently works as a story editor for both novels and screenplays, and continues to arrange financing for films.  He also lectures on screenplay writing, novel writing, and film finance. Most recently in April 2010, he lectured at the Unicorn Writers’ Conference, in Stratford, Connecticut.

 

For further information please email me. (Alan Brown)

Transcript

Alan

So, Alan, you’ve done quite a bit throughout your life. But I’d like you to take us through a timeline of some of the projects that you’ve worked on and, and what led you into that. Let’s start out with your growing up years graduating from school and then what led you into your, your path here.

 

Alan Brown

Um, interesting story.

 

First of all, it’s an honor to be interviewed by you, Alan. I got into the business, literally. by pure accident. I had worked on the university magazine as a writer. And when I moved to New York, I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to get into the entertainment business. But I had a wonderful encounter. I was actually truth I was waiting waiting tables at a Greek restaurant from 11 to seven. I met a fella by the name of Craig Fishery he come in about four o’clock the morning, I didn’t know he was the executive producer of the Today Show at the time. And he would always come in and say, Are you educated? Your parents wasted a lot of money on your education. And he would not harass me, but in a kind way when I’d wait on him. And I’d say, I’m a writer. And about after a month, he hands me his card and it said, President of the Writers Guild of America East, so if you want to talk about being embarrassed, and he handed me his card, he said, okay, you can report to work tomorrow. And I spent quite a few years with Craig. I think the total was about seven years with Osprey Productions. It was a wonderful experience. It wasn’t until later I learned that Craig did things very originally  and I believe it was responsible for his great success, from the today show, to a lot of the documentaries to Osprey Productions, to a lot of the shows he did in the amount of awards. The reason I say that is because I worked as a story editor. And he did things just completely different. I’ll give you an example, I’ve worked with major University’s Graduate Programs that taught writing, creative writing, on a graduate level, and the way I work with my authors os the way, Craig taught me to work with him. And especially in the analysis of stories, and it was one of my professors that was one of my clients said to me, where did you learn this? I teach? I’ve been to the best universities, we’ve never learned to do this. And I just said, I thought, everyone knew this. And primarily all the information that I learned the story editing came from Craig. Joseph E. Levine was a client of ours, Joe Levine did 500 films from the graduate to the line and winner carnal knowledge. And it was a wonderful gift that I was offered an opportunity to go to work for Levine. And you know, I moved from our offices to Park Avenue. And it was just it was it was a fun time. Interesting time in the industry. Everything seemed at that point fixed uniform. You knew there were three networks. You had beginning of an MTV. I remember when the fax machine came in, and all of a sudden our contracts from California wouldn’t take three days, we could fax back and forth and talk to our west coast counsel. And it was almost like revolutionary. And it was during that period of time that the large cell phones came in that were this big then you could talk and the world was starting to really change rapidly. But it was a wonderful, wonderful time. Joe passed away. I was appointed by Citibank to liquidate the assets, of the Levine  company, which I did. Then I went on to work for Rob Reiner. And I was the executive producer with Phil Kellogg. Phil was Joe’s best friend in life. And I think I met Phil at Joe’s funeral. Phil was the agent for Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn and close friends and Angela Lansbury, and he was the Senior VP Motion Picture division of William Mars at the time prior to that. But he was Joe’s best friend. So he asked me, What are you going to do? And I said, Well, I’m not so sure. So we produce some films. We did Year of the Comet and Sea Kings, made a deal with sea kings, never got made, then Beach Music, which I negotiated, it was an agentless deal for Pat Conroy. And I think we ended up with the highest price ever paid for the a motion picture rights company. At that point that I was offered a lot of agency gigs and became friends with Jeff Berg. Didn’t take it up, I’m not an agent, I, I’m actually proud of him. Probably a terrible producer in truth. So to make a long story, I made deals for the entertainment industry. Put a couple people into business, either, you know, an arranged funding for different companies. And then when the crash happened in 2007, I said in my whole entire experience, what did I enjoy most in life, it was my story editing. So I went back to story editing. And I’m still in the same business today. But it’s it’s branched off in into a lot of other areas. Because you can see, I’ve made a lot of friends over the years, I don’t burn bridges. So now I’m involved. I’m on the advisory board of Veriton, a public company. My editing business is sort of thriving, not sort of, is thriving. I work with a lot of a list writers that are friends, a lot of young writers that I think, have tremendous amounts of talent. And  this might sound strange, but I know that this is what I was meant to do. I mean, I enjoy working with creatives, I enjoy helping them through the both the movie industry or the streaming industry today, and also the publishing industry. And I’ve had a lot of wonderful acquaintances from Gay Talese, who’s a dear friend, who you should have on this show, who would be give you a great interview. To just a plethora of people over the decades and you know, Charles Sullivan, who you know, and as an associate, and I’ve had a blessed life. And when I was thinking about when you asked me to do this, I was thinking about, what would I really talk about? I truly believe today, what what someone believes what someone conceives and believes can be achieved. That once we put our, our mind, body and spirit and energy behind something, anything becomes easy to achieve. You sit down and you ponder what’s really important after economic needs have been taken care of, well free time, free time to spend with my family, free time to do whatever I feel. I say this, the greatest wealth is to have the free time to do what I want to do. So I’m very I’m careful about my time today.

 

Just because it’s the only thing I have a limited amount of and I realized that. So I try to stay in try to stay in the present. With my own children, a lot of them will say, Dad, I’m scared of this. And fear to me, is like running a horror show in your brain. And I so I said to my children, if you’re that scared of something why don’t you write it down and sell it, because it doesn’t belong in your head. It belongs on paper. Over the decades, I have learned that I process things internally through five senses. But everything is inside of me how I perceive the reality. It’s not outside. And what do I want for the inside of my own personal reality, it’s peace, joy, happiness, the same thing I hoped for the world outside of me, peace, joy, happiness. And all these things are achievable. And so today, I’m focused on veritone. I think AI is the future, I think it’ll solve a lot of problems. They’ve moved into the energy sector, it will make different types of renewable energy much more efficient. Matter of fact, if Elon Musk is listening to this show, tell him, call Veriton. Because they have tech that will help his with his battery. And they’ve been working with Dr. Khan at Stanford, and they have his patents. And I know Elon was going after his patents, but Veritone owns them, and they’re doing so many fabulous things. We look at governance now with so much turmoil and personality, I can see the future where governance or governments will become more like garbage collecting. It’ll be equal and fair to everyone. And that can very easily accomplished with AI. So those are the kind of things that I’m doing now. And I think where most people look at the world and say, they don’t see a bright future, I see a tremendously bright future for the upcoming generations. I mean, you look at the world today, it’s like, we have more comfort, as a global society than we’ve ever had. We have more technology, so much technology and comfort it’s probably killing us. What we need is the inside changes. A good example: I spent probably a lot of my early career, learning how to manage my thoughts, control my thoughts and manage them, control my feelings and manage my feelings, and getting my feelings and my thoughts to work for me. And I realize I’m not my feelings, I’m not my thoughts.  I’m really not. I used to think I was a human being, trying to live a spiritual life today, I realize I’m a spiritual being in a human mechanism machine. I’m really a spiritual being living a human life. It doesn’t matter how much I have, economically if I don’t have peace and joy within me. So all the wonderful conveniences and gifts this world has given us that we’ve created. I see my outside reality, my career, my life as more of a reflection of what’s going on inside of me. I never worried about my job, I always followed my passion. And I never really intended to become fluent. I mean, I’ve hit levels of success I never expected. You talk about the American Dream. I have had more joy and peace and serenity on a daily basis.

 

I cycle about 50 miles as a hobby and it’s a form of meditation. We have such large brains, we’re probably billions of years of a creator’s evolution for man to reach this Pinnacle. I listen to people saying and including my own kids, oh gee dad about you know stress about the job about this and I’m like, do you understand and the magnificence of your brain? You should be able to just do a job just like that. If you’re in sync physically, emotionally and spiritually, it’ll happen. I maintain my body machine. Exercise, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. And it’s my own private thing, I don’t eat any kind of red meat and I live a healthy lifestyle because I want to be peaceful in this body.

 

I’ve had a great, great life. And I, you know, I’ve been involved and you know, a lot of the people that I know, and so I’ve been around a lot of celebrities, over the decades. I’ve had wonderful friends as a mutual friend of ours says as I’ve had a grand and glorious life. And I’m really, really grateful. And I can convey one message it’s, what can be conceived and believed can be achieved. The actions are ours, results are God’s. So I know that I’m responsible for my actions on a daily basis, not the results. So I never focus on results. I focus on my actions. And, just those simple things, no judgments, no expectations, no attachments, no negative thoughts. And creating that kind of interior discipline, I think has had a lot to do with the success that I’ve had, and more than anything else, because what’s a sense of having any kind of financial success, if you’re in turmoil and can’t enjoy it? What allows me to enjoy it, is that inside of me, I don’t really need it if that makes any sense. I’m happy, joyous and free, what greater wealth is there?

 

Alan

When you lay that out, it has a lot of wisdom, a deep meaning. What I’ve found over the years`, Alan as I visited with a lot of critical thinkers, is that they often are trying to solve a problem. They’re not trying to do something, to enrich themselves, but they’re trying to put the solution in place. And the people that are successful with that, the solution will also involve the minds of others, having them unite with them. And the more people uniting the better the results, because the problem is not just with them, but it’s within society. And so I love this, when you talk about what the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve, you know, as long as that solution has to do with identifying a problem that exists throughout society. And so this is wonderful. When you look at the projects in front of you, where does your real passion rest?

 

Alan Brown

I’m a fan of Elon Musk, because every problem he tackles is a global issue. And if you look at his list of companies, I really, really admire that. We were given a veritable paradise, if you look at the planet, our Creator was great at what he did. Whoever, whatever, and don’t I want to get into a religious argument, but the creator gave us the most wonderful, beautiful environment.  And our job was to manage it. And we’re doing a lousy job. We as of now, I think this younger generation will. And I think that AI will help give them the tools to do this. But the interesting things, the way it starts individually for all of us because all we interpret reality from our own insight. If I could offer to the global group of young people is to take responsibility. Find your bliss inside of you. Treat your body like it is a fine running machine because it’s a great machine. We manage our cars, we take care of them and yet, a lot of people don’t take care of their bodies the same way. Put good things into it, I take care of it. And I think in a lot of ways, the rest will take care of itself. We can solve world hunger, we can help heal this planet back to the way it once was. We can get rid of the pollution, we can as a group, managed the planet. It’s within our abilities. I try to spend time just becoming sensitive to other life, and to slow down enough to be sensitive to the changes that are coming. And I think big changes are coming, positive changes. And I have a lot of faith in the younger generation. As an old person, which I feel like, I have a lot of decades behind me, I would venture to say that, you know, all the comforts are here for everyone. You know, what, I don’t see comfort, making anyone any more happy. But I have seen where if people align themselves, their emotions, their mentality, their, their physical bodies and their energy into focus goals, where their thoughts work for them, and their emotions work for them- I realized one time, I was reacting to a very negative situation. And I realized, wait a second, I’m reacting. I don’t have to, does this person control my emotions or do I? And once I realized that I control my emotions, I motion started to become like clouds in the sky. I’m responsible, they come and they go, but I’m responsible for how I feel. And I can choose how I feel the same thing for all the thoughts that I have. But yet, I don’t see any kind of education, everyone’s looking for the outside to make them happy. And, and the facts are the inside can make us happy, we can reflect it out. To me, that’s probably true success.

 

I’ve been blessed. I really have because the mentors, just like, a lot of other people think certain things put themselves in my life that I didn’t expect. That led to my success. I’m not responsible, I’ve had a series of being at the right spot, the right time, even including, like with Veritone. I mean, here, I am an editor. And I end up as advisory board to Veritone, but it was because I wanted to help them. And then they said, you know, some people? And I said, I know lots of people and you know who I’m talking about? And I said, Yeah, you have such a great little company here. Let me see what I can do.

 

Now, I feel like I’m involved with a company that’s on the forefront of AI. And, and I think will actually change the world. I mean, I think they can do wonderful things. Like I would love to see politics like how my garbage truck picks up my garbage in my house twice a week. It’s a function, it serves two people. It does a really good job at it. it’s beneficial, and it’s economical. And there are no personalities. And I think that really good governments should treat everyone equally fairly, with no personnel. And maybe someday I hope to see it that way. But I don’t know.

 

Alan

Well, Alan, I certainly appreciate you being with us today. This this was just filled with lots of wisdom and I appreciate you sharing your experiences here. Thanks for being with us today on the show.

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