These days Brian Wright is part of the team that is responsible for the original series on Netflix, but at the beginning of his career he was the lowest-of-the-low production assistant on the very first season of Scrubs.
“It was filmed in an abandoned hospital and I was literally the lowest-of-the-low assistants who would clean abandoned hotel washrooms,” he said.
The Campbell Riverite has come a long way from that. Last year he worked on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Stranger Things.
“We shepherd the thing through it’s entire creative process from the day we buy it to the day that it goes through colour correction and is finished and then launched,” he said.
That means everything from hearing idea pitches to giving notes on scripts and approving casting and then working with the marketing team to make sure the show gets promoted and people are excited about it, he explained.
Wright grew up in Campbell River. After high school he headed to UBC and studied English literature with a minor in history.
He finds himself using the skills he learned from his English degree at his current job.
“I have to read a script I have to articulate why I like it or why I don’t like it or what I think needs to be fixed or what it can do to be better,” he said. “Similarly, if I watch a cut, if I watch an episode and a first cut of something, I have to say to the producers ‘okay I think this is really good but I think it needs some work here, I think we need to help out this character.’”
After graduating from UBC, Wright spent six months in Paris working as a waiter, learning the language and taking a break.
Though he had planned to go to law school, it was in Paris that he realized he wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue a career in production.
“I always loved TV and movies and always thought that would be incredible but I didn’t really have a plan,” he said.
Wright slowly made his way up from lowly production assistant on the set up Scrubs. He worked as an assistant at Touchstone Pictures, which is part of Disney, then got a job at Warner Brothers. There he made his way up to junior executive.
After that he spent a number of years at Nickelodeon where he became the senior vice president. Almost three years ago he moved over to Netflix.
“There’s so much excitement here and energy and investment and so if a great idea walks in the door we can make it, we can get behind it and finance it,” he said. “If I love something I’m able to get behind it and make it come to life.”
Wright chalks some of his success up to his family life.
“I think that I was raised with the notion that I could do anything that I set my mind to,” he said. “I know that sounds like a cliche but in this iteration it was really true.
“It took a big leap of faith for me to decide to come down here and not go to law school, which had been my plan, and pursue the unexpected path and the more risky path and I am definitely glad that I did that.”
For those who are interested in getting into the industry, Wright recommends studying the humanities because the reading, writing, comprehension and communication skills are massively important to what he does.
“So focus on all of the things and certainly watch a lot of incredible films and TV and re-watch them and develop a point of view and develop your own taste and that can start at a really young age,” he said.
For those who are getting ready to venture into the world of jobs, Wright recommended looking at Vancouver.
“There is a lot of opportunity to try and be exposed to either film or television making in Vancouver,” he said.
We would like to continue this series on successful Campbell Riverites. If you know anyone raised in the area who has gone on to do great and interesting things email firstname.lastname@example.org.