Interview with Manager/Producer - Devon Byers
What drew you to the entertainment industry?
Well, as I think about it - it really was my parents. My mother was a theatre teacher, and my dad was a drummer - so the arts were quite important in my house growing up. But more importantly, they were discuss as real obtainable things. Art was something that could be a career, not just a hobby. Because they took it so seriously, and were fans (I got quite the education in 70s cinema from my father, and a lot of 30s, 40s, 50s classics from my mother) I took it seriously, and knew that it was still a risky move, but one that is worth taking. So I enrolled at UNLV, my hometown university, and started my formal entertainment education, and I've never stopped learning since.
What's your favorite part about working with writers?
Collaboration is one of the best parts of our business, and I love collaborating with writers, even if it's just on a notes process. The writer's mind is a beautiful puzzle, and I always find it to be our job as managers to help pull the right pieces out, so the writer isn't working in a vacuum. Writer's are able to conquer the blank page - and I always find that inspiring.
What gets you most excited about a writer's pitch?
When I'm able to discern why this writer is telling this story - what makes them passionate about it. Sometimes is personal, sometimes its not, but if I can see what their connection is to the material, it makes me more invested in it.
What's one bit of advice that helps you the most in this industry?
I'm going to cheat and use two pieces of advice that have really helped me. The head of our film department at UNLV, used to tell us all the time to DO THE WORK. Which simply means - don't focus on the nonsense, the parties, the drama, or the politics, and just do the work. If you do the work, you will be better for it, and that's what people will recognize. The other is that there is no ladder in this business, there's no straight line or equation for success. There are many ways to make this business work for you, and you just need to find it. This means working hard and knowing who you are - but also not holding yourself back because you don't feel it's "right". It's not an ego move, just understand it's about giving yourself the freedom to try.
What's your favorite non-industry-related hobby or activity?
As a fan of entertainment, media and pop culture, it's hard to stay away from the industry! But my favorite hobbies are reading and games. I'm currently reading Cress by Marissa Meyer, and just finished an older James Patterson book. On the game side I've been playing a lot of Star Wars Battlefront II and my boyfriend and I play a great board/puzzle game called Azul. You build a a tiled wall... It's more like chess than Clue.