Alumnus Bryant Loney shares his experience from story to screen - The University of Tulsa
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Alumnus Bryant Loney shares his experience from story to screen

Bryant Loney graduated from The University of Tulsa in 2019 with a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing. He then journeyed to Pepperdine University to pursue his master of fine arts degree in television writing and completed his studies in 2022. We were given the opportunity to welcome Bryant back to campus for TU’s 2022 TV Writers Symposium and to hear more from him about his writing experience.

What were some experiences or moments you had at TU that made you think, “Wow, I could really do this whole writing thing”?

I entered The University of Tulsa with a novel-writing background, which was rewarding, but oftentimes isolating; books tend to be one-way conversations. When I took classes outside of my comfort zone, though, I felt encouraged, provoked, and urged to take my writing to the next step— like in Dr. Grant Jenkins’ TV Writing course, Dr. Jan Wilson’s Feminist Theory course, Dr. Dennis Denisoff’s Environment and Literature, Dr. Bob Jackson’s American Protest Literature, Dr. Denise Dutton’s Enlightenment and Its Critics course in the Honors Program, and especially in the Writing Comics class taught by then Tulsa Artist Fellow Melanie Gillman. Additionally, through extracurriculars, like copyediting for The Collegian and studying abroad in Dublin and Reykjavik.

So, I don’t think it was a revelation of “writing is something I can do,” but many moments of “these are the ways in which I want to tell stories” with the knowledge I gained and a perspective shaped by mentors and classmates.

Would you share a writing hack that got you through college? 

To students writing papers and analyzing course material, here is the thesis statement template I used throughout my entire college career:

In [title of book/film (year)], [author’s full name] uses [specific example] to challenge readers’/the audience’s notions of [topic].

“In both Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and E. M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), the authors use the chaos of their opening pages to challenge readers’ notions of the traditional family.”

Professors love this stuff. You got this.

You also have a wide range of artistic disciplines coming together in your portfolio, from poetry to English script adaptation. What has the process of exploring new creative spaces looked like for you, and what new spaces are you hoping to explore in the future?

Writing novels, poems and short stories helped me discover what I wanted to say about my life at the time, but these emotional diaries of sorts were often my voice in a vacuum, and their creation was marked by a period of profound loneliness. Thankfully, writing screenplays with friends, photo­­-art projects with frequent collaborators and English script adaptations of foreign properties for Netflix and Disney+ dubbing has all been so wonderful and much healthier for me.

As for what’s next, my dear friend Anne Perera (@annearrt) and I have a farewell art series planned for a May 2023 release. And in addition to new dub projects, I’ve been writing action scripts for animated music videos premiering on YouTube sometime next year. I’d love to one day adapt Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine for the screen plus to work in a writers’ room for kids’ TV.

What authors/works have inspired your writing thus far?

All creative writers should forage for narratives outside of media they’re familiar with and beyond the stories they mean to tell — something new and thoughtful and meaningful to you. We are stimulated most by what tests our tastes and by what challenges our areas of artistic expression and our capacities for collaboration.

This past summer, I was most inspired by works such as Vanyda’s The Building Opposite, a comic about a group of neighbors interacting in their apartment complex; Mischief’s Adios, a video game about a pig farmer’s afternoon with a genial hitman; Joe Hunting’s We Met in Virtual Reality, a documentary shot entirely in VR about heartfelt connections in online spaces; Toshio Suzuki’s Mixing Work with Pleasure: My Life at Studio Ghibli, a memoir about his years managing the projects of anime legends Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata; the music of Florist; and the crossover episodes of Ian Jones-Quartey’s OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes on Cartoon Network. Also, Albert Birney’s film Tux and Fanny – anyone who daydreams should watch Tux and Fanny.

Would you share something about yourself that might surprise your peers? 

I have been blessed with many creative opportunities, but as artists, it’s important to talk about our failures as much as our successes. I’ve had numerous creative endeavors not reach fruition, for various reasons, all the time: like a 2019 graphic novel I wrote about domestic abuse canceled when a new executive came in and shelved all the current projects; a short film where everything that could have gone wrong did; and collaborations that never found their footing. It happens, and that’s OK! Not everything gets made, and most won’t, which is why it’s important to celebrate the ones that do.