For my second interview I wanted to introduce my good friend Brantley. I am always admired by anyone who drops everything to move across country to follow their dreams. I know it isn’t easy – and I know that fear can be debilitating; often times keeping people from pursuing the one thing that makes them happy.
So meet Brantley J. Brown:
1. So what made you pick up everything from Tennessee and move to Southern California?
I think that a lot of people, at some point in their life, stop and have a moment of reflection. They evaluate everything they’ve done and accomplished. Some find they are right where they want to be, and some find that they still have so much left in this world to do. I definitely am one who found that I hadn’t done nearly a fraction of things that I wanted to do in my life. I have been writing screenplays for a long time. I wrote my first script when I was 13, and I’m 33, now. That’s 20 years of writing. The problem is, I never really did anything with the work I was doing. Fear of failure played a big part in that, I think. I used to be one of those people that worried so much about what others had to say about me. I suppose I didn’t want to risk rejection. I had several opportunities to move out to California over the years, but I was always able to justify a reason to stay where I was.
One of those reasons was the state of health my Dad was in. In 2009, he nearly died, and I felt selfish even thinking about moving very far away. He pulled through and seemed to make a remarkable recovery. Eventually, I got a little more comfortable with the idea of striking out on my own, but I didn’t want to go too far. I ended up four hours away, in Tennessee. Some saw it as odd as to why I chose Tennessee, and maybe it was. I am one of those people who firmly believes that everything happens for a reason, and it was where I met the love of my life, so perhaps it wasn’t such an odd choice after all. Sadly, in April of 2017, Doctors found what they believed to be a cancerous spot in my Dad’s back. Further scans revealed that he was riddled with cancer. I don’t think I’d ever been so terrified of something in my life. This was that moment of reflection for me. I suddenly realized how brief life can be. I had always wanted to be able to really do something with my life and to make my parents proud. They knew how much I loved writing and how much I wanted to make movies. Suddenly, the idea of losing one of them was extremely real, and I had done nothing very worthwhile with my life. That’s how I felt, anyway. So, the idea of moving to California resurfaced, and this time I couldn’t think of a single reason why I shouldn’t. I didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen. I just knew that it was.
It was my fiance, Aj, and our friend, Darryus, who helped persuade me to make a quick move, as in by the end of the summer. It seemed a little hasty to me, especially with the uncertainty of what was going to happen with my father. In May 2017, any doubts were washed away when my Dad succumbed to the cancer in his body. I had to chase my dreams, if for no other reason than to honor his memory.
2. How has the move changed or affected your dream?
If anything, it’s like this move has put my dream on steroids. It’s just grown bigger and bigger. In a way, it seems less like a dream and more like something tangible. I have been extremely fortunate to have a great support system behind me since I’ve gotten to California. I had the great fortune of being put in contact with Michael Coulombe. For the those who don’t know him, you have no idea how great of a friend he can be. He has become a very good friend to me, and has given me some invaluable advice. He has worked on over 200 films, and he knows what’s going on. He is probably one of the coolest people I know, and I’m so very happy to have started what I’m sure will be a long-lasting friendship. Overall, I have made some of the most amazing friends here, and Aj and Darryus are like my own personal cheerleaders at home. I never like to give in to negativity, and I definitely feel very optimistic about the future here. I feel like a real screenwriter for the first time in my life.
3. You are a screenwriter. Could you tell us a little bit about your projects?
Currently, I am working on a rewrite of my most recent screenplay called “Chuckles”. It is a straight forward slasher, largely inspired by the horror films of the 70s and 80s. I think it is very very scary. I even find myself getting scared as I’m writing it! I was fortunate enough to have Victor Miller, the creator of “Friday the 13th” read the first draft, and send me notes on it. I’m still pinching myself over that! I have several other scripts in the pipeline. One is a supernatural thriller called “Autumn Falls”. I actually have one draft done of that one. It was written before Chuckles, and in many ways, it’s one of my favorite stories, but I know that it needs some reworking before I’m ready to do anything with it. I also have been laying out the basics for a new script, that takes the romantic comedy genre and puts a terrifying twist on it, called “Meet the Hatchets”. I’m really excited about that one!
4. What was the hardest part about moving? Do you find you had a lack of support?
The hardest part about moving was…everything! It’s hard to pick just one part that was the hardest. Saying goodbye to friends and family was very difficult. The 27 hour drive was, at times, downright awful. I suppose that the worst part was going through everything that Aj and I had accumulated over the years. We had decided to sell most of our things, so I found it more than a little hard to pick everything apart and figure out what was important and what wasn’t. To me, everything had some little bit of importance, be it big or small. Nonetheless, we had to narrow our things down to what we could fit it in two vehicles. We were going to be starting from scratch once we got to California. As to whether or not there was any lack of support with this move, I can honestly say no. Granted, there were some who worried about us, but overall I think that everyone around us wished nothing but the best for us.
5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to move and follow their dream, such as you did?
The best advice I can give to someone who dreams of striking in the world to follow their dreams is this : Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t be like I used to be. There are people who will doubt you. There are people who may reject you. In the end, none of that really matters. What you believe in yourself is what’s most important. Feed the fire that’s inside of you. Nurture whatever talent you have, because it’s what makes you special. Plan, as best as you can, for things that might come up in the move. If you can save some money, that’s great! It will help a lot. Most importantly, never give up. When you find yourself struggling with self doubt, just remember that you’ve got something special in store for the rest of the world.
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Brantley Brown is a screenwriter. He was raised in the small town of East Prairie, Missouri. With a population of less than 2,000 people, East Prairie was barely a blip on the map, with more farmland and more grain silos than there were stoplights; there were, in fact, two traffic lights, for those curious enough to know. With not much to do, and not much to see, Brantley immersed himself in reading and watching movies, horror being his genre of choice.
With a love of horror films deeply rooted at a young age, and a fascination with what went into making them, Brantley decided early on in life that he wanted to write screenplays. It started with fan fiction, at the age of 13, when he wrote a full length screenplay for an installment in the “Halloween” franchise. Family and friends found his writing to be quite entertaining, and Brantley found the feedback to be quite encouraging in his decision to become a screenwriter.
Since then, Brantley has never stopped writing. He has written several original screenplays that he hopes to see on the big screen someday. Currently, he is working on a rewrite of his most recent script, “Chuckles”, a love letter to the slasher films of the 80s that inspired him to start writing. Constantly writing, Brantley is determined to make his dreams a reality and to leave his mark on Hollywood.
In 2013, Brantley moved from Missouri to Tennessee, where he stayed until August 2017, when he decided to make the move to California. During his time in Tennessee, he met his fiance, AJ Allen. Currently, Brantley and AJ reside in Bakersfield, California with their friend, Darryus.