Brian Hanson ’16 MFA film and television is used to getting past obstacles. Serving in the military, he says, there isn’t much room for excuses, but they teach you a greater path to getting results. “I had dreams when it came to the film industry, but I also have a history of military service in my family and I always wanted to be a part of it,“ he says. “It was a moment where I felt I had to step up.”
Joining in 2010, Hanson became a proud member of the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan. “It was high intensity and high standards,” he says. The top lesson he learned from the military is that you simply don’t quit. “If something doesn’t work, then you find another way to get it done,” he says.
The discipline it taught him and the feeling of team only grew his tools for his post-military life when he completed his military service in 2014. Joining the weekend MFA film and television program at the Mount, he gained skills in directing and writing and found the resolve to try to get a film to the big screen with classmate and producing partner Richard Handley (US Navy veteran). With professors and alumni working on the project, his directorial debut, “The Black String,” premiered at the famed Austin Film Festival in 2018. Starring Frankie Muniz, who carved out a career with such hits as TV show “Malcolm in the Middle” and film “Agent Cody Banks,” the film follows his character on an odyssey that questions his sanity after a night with a mysterious woman. It was a chance for Frankie to play a darker character and for Hanson to break into the movie business.
But Hanson isn’t satisfied. Now a semester from graduating with a creative writing MFA at the Mount, he has had a chance to concentrate further on screenplays and other forms of fiction writing.
Hanson is a major proponent of Mount Saint Mary’s for its environment. “It really starts with the campus, a place that has a vibe of being peaceful and happy,” he says. “The instructors are very hands on, providing smaller classes and tons of opportunities. You can ask questions, work through things and they hit on both physically learning with equipment [for film and TV] but also the theoretical. They give you so much time and you feel like a family. It’s not to say it can’t have last-minute deadlines and rigor, but the environment is part of why I went for the second time.”
He has also been honored by the University as a recipient of the Sister Magdalen Coughlin Award in 2019, given to a graduate student committed to the service of other students. Hanson had started volunteering with Veterans in Media & Entertainment, becoming director of events and education. Putting on classes and roundtables that brought up-and-coming filmmakers together to hear from guest speakers from the entertainment business, Hanson was able to bring these events to the Mount’s students.
For the future, Hanson sees his stories focusing on the horror/sci-fi/thriller genres as he is influenced by directors such as Rod Serling, Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan. “Making entertaining and compelling drama that’s truthful is what interests me,” he says. “I like focusing on the choices a person makes.”
For Hanson, his choices have made all the difference.