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RonOsborn_full

Ron Osborn

Film '73

Ron Osborn has been a critically acclaimed television writer for over two decades.

From 1985 through 1988, he was the co-writer and executive producer of Moonlighting and was nominated for a Writer's Guild Award and four Emmys. In the 1990s, he co-created, developed, wrote and produced the animated show Duckman, for which he received three Emmy nominations, four Cable Ace nominations, a Cable Ace award, and the award for Best Animated Series at the Banff International Television Festival.

Early in his career, Osborn wrote for the TV comedies Night Court and Mork & Mindy; he later worked as writer and producer of Cupid for ABC. His contributions to the influential NBC drama The West Wing earned him another Writer's Guild nomination. Osborn has also worked on a number of films, including The Flintstones, Radioland Murders and Meet Joe Black. Throughout his career, Osborn has served as a faculty member in advanced screenwriting at Art Center.

Osborn is currently finishing his first novel, recently sold a pilot to ABC Family, has a series in development with Disney, and was awarded the Honu Career Screenwriting Award at the Big Island Film Festival in 2009.

Art Center: You graduated from Art Center and yet you ended up as a writer. What happened?
Ron Osborn:
Yeah, it's odd that I attended one of the most visual schools in the free world and came out of it a writer. If there are others, I haven't heard of them. And yet, there's a logical progression.

I came here as an advertising illustration major. In the first or second term, I was given an assignment for which I had to use an 8mm camera, and I had an epiphany. I had always loved film, so I immediately switched. I left behind advertising illustration and went into graphics, which at that time was where all the film classes were. In terms of filmmaking, in terms of writing, I knew nothing. It was a very scary and risky leap to make at that time, and yet it felt right.

AC: Did you have to find strategies for renewing your commitment, or for sustaining your spirit?
RO:
The top-of-my-head answer is that I got just enough encouragement to keep me going. I went with my gut and took a leap. There was a period of about five years after school where little came of it and hardly a day passed when I didn't have some doubt. But people read my material.

Agents did say, “There's something here. Keep at it, kid.” Ultimately, I had enough faith in my ability.

AC: How would you advise someone who wants to do great work?
RO:
It's fair to say that coming out of school you are not going to have as many options as you will down the line, when you have experience. You have to earn the right to force your vision through. I was working for eight years in television on various top-10 shows before I had my first opportunity to pitch my own ideas for a series.

Be prepared for a lot of disappointment, settle in for the long haul, and remember that one “yes” trumps 100 “no”s.

AC: What kinds of challenges are filmmakers going to be facing in the future?
RO:
Already, we can tell stories now that we could only have hinted at years ago, so there is going to be greater freedom. Whether that's a good or bad thing is debatable. In terms of content, it's always going to come down to the story. All of the technology in the world won't save a hackneyed idea.

I recently showed one of my daughters the original King Kong. The thing that's amazing about it, why it holds up, is because of the story, the way they humanized the monster. It's a childa large child who's curious. It's innocent and yet powerful.

Because they captured that in a way that none of the sequels or remakes have, the original film stands as a classic.

   
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