We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Brawer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued a creative career not fully understanding the difficulties and emotional burdens that an arts career comes with, but I didn’t really see any other future for myself as a kid and still don’t. I work as a writer and director for film, TV, and comic books, and as unstable as the work can be, I rarely question that I made the right choice. (I say *rarely* because there have been extremely dark times in between gigs where I built up thousands of dollars of credit card debt and couldn’t pay my bills and LA rent.) I predominantly write science fiction, horror, and thriller, and a great deal of the creative work I do is world building — figuring out the details of the world, big and small, so the emotional lives of the characters can feel real and grounded and connected to that made-up world. I often lose myself for days in articles and books as I research my genre concepts – and I suppose this same level of focus could apply to any field, not just a creative one. At this point in my life though, it’s just how my brain is wired. I read an interesting article about dark matter, or robotics, or the declining birth rate in Japan, and I try to find a way to work it into one of my stories to explore further. I guess this is all a lengthy way of saying I pursued an artistic career because I almost didn’t have a choice. It’s how I see and process the world – and maybe most importantly, because I was privileged enough to be able to go to a prestigious film school with a safety net if I failed.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a writer and director and genre gal and work on everything from horror to science fiction to fantasy, and the long term goal is to create/run my own shows. I love to build worlds, whether it be a 1800s period piece or futuristic space opera, and I’m passionate about ensuring all my work has an important social or environmental message. I’ve spent the last few years working my way up in TV writers rooms, including FBI: International, FBI: Most Wanted, neXt, George RR Martin’s Nightflyers, and Big Mouth. I’ve had basically every assistant title in the book from Post PA to Script Coordinator. I even had a job right after graduating from NYU on a Martin Scorsese set where I literally sorted the garbage. And right now, I’m working as a creative producer at MikeTeevee, an incredible, female-run production company. So, that’s the basic bio, but there have been countless challenges along the way – toxic work environments, cruel bosses, overt sexism in the workplace, grueling hours for minimum wage gigs, lengthy periods of unemployment, unpaid bills and mounting debt, big career promises made then taken away. This is not a forgiving industry. People can be selfish and cutthroat. Truly. But when it’s good, and when I’ve been lucky enough to get on a gig with a fantastic, collaborative group of people, it makes it all worth it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Food and drink: Madre! in Culver City for their spicy margaritas, The Spot in Hermosa Beach for delicious vegetarian food, Mirabelle Wine Bar in Valley Village for wine and cheese
Exercise: A super fun, empowering indoor spin class at CycleBar Culver City
Outdoor fun: A walk along the strand in Manhattan Beach with a pitstop at Sloopy’s for a smoothie, a hike to Escondido Falls in Malibu after a bit of rain, tidepooling in Palos Verdes at Abalone Cove
Fun and games: An indie movie at The Landmark, Vista Theater, the Aero, The Good Nite in North Hollywood or Pharoah Karaoke Lounge in Koreatown for karaoke, an intimate show at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood or Lodge Room in Highland Park
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
All my success and happiness comes from the big, amazing, bi-coastal community I’m so lucky to have. My partner, Sean Lee (and his lovely family, too). My parents and sister who continue to be my number one fans. My agent at Buchwald, Matt Nordsten, who kindly tolerates all my weird texts and GIFs. All the showrunners and mentors who advocate for me. The superwomen – and ALL my comic book club ladies – who began as professional connections and became true, lifelong friends. My aunts, uncles, and cousins who donated money, acting chops, and even their own homes as sets to my films. And of course, all the other folks and friends who karaoke with me, fill me with cheese and wine, play board games until 3am, and babysit my cat.
Other: TikTok: @jinglegals