Born and raised in the Ohio Valley, Brian Thomas spent the last four years studying film at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He recently returned home from working as a film script developer in the chaos that is commonly referred to as Los Angeles, California. Always possessing a passion for storytelling, he hoped to take his shot at Hollywood by writing the next Oscar winning feature, but soon discovered a grim reality grinning at him underneath the plastic surface of LA’s quickly built, sprawling skyline promising fortune and fame with hollow intentions. Well written stories comprised of intriguing characters and dynamic environments are not necessarily the prime candidates for production. Generally, film scripts are conceived as marketing tools that aim to target specific audience demographics. Both production companies and the major studios rely upon story models that have proven to be profitable. They become risk averse. The original emphasis placed on finding new ways to tell narrative is pushed into the distant background while countless sequels and prequels of large, commercial blockbusters dominate the industry. A film’s rate of commercial success directly affects whether or not producers maintain their positions.
Due to this reality in the industry, Hollywood’s creative pool is being consistently drained. Originally, the west coast was a haven for criminals fleeing the law as well as entrepreneurs dreaming of claiming their fortune. It was a land of dreams where anything was possible, and where anyone could become a someone. Dreaming of the American West continued to manifest itself within the imaginations of writers, directors, and so on throughout the first half of the 20th Century. However, globalization was born. The industry, in terms of who controlled and operated it, switched hands from the writers and the directors to massive corporate conglomerates. By inserting their own business and political interests into productions, these corporate behemoths continue to pollute the work. The vitality of a story is lost because it becomes another marketing strategy employed to bring in more capital. After experiencing compelling ideas shot down by nervous producers, Brian realized that this wasn’t his world. He wants to be constantly traveling, meeting new people, and utilizing literature, film, and music to tell these stories. In the fall, he will be attending a one-year masters program for history at a university in Ireland. While abroad, he will be researching and writing a novel set during the 1840 Irish Potato famine that focuses on Ireland’s dying folklore.
Growing up in St. Clairsville and attending The Linsly School in Wheeling, Brian has always needed to tell stories rooted in true experience in any form. The national attitude toward rust belt areas like Wheeling, West Virginia tends to be negative as it groups its inhabitants into unfortunate stereotypes. However, this attitude ignores the magnitude of history that permeates the very air we breathe here. From being inhabited by Delaware Indians to being hurled into the middle of early European colonial warfare to being an industrial powerhouse in post World War II America, this area has experienced immense change over a span of hundreds of years. Unlike the popular notion that views history as fit only for dusty, old books tucked away in some rotting house, Brian understands it as something that directly influences who we are as a culture. It’s something that bleeds from the past into the present where events even a hundred years ago still influence our collective language dialects, pastimes, fears, and dreams. Economic hardship has cast an air of self deprecation over the Valley. By exploring narrative through personal experiences and with a historical lens, Brian hopes to capture the semblances of our voice as a culture that extends beyond popular stereotypes.