Bryan Fuller is a titan. If you need proof, just check out his impressive portfolio. He went from his early days writing on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to piloting a handful of his own creations. All along the way, he picked up dedicated fans who were drawn into his style.

Though his shows oftentimes deal with death and mortality they go a bit further and try to celebrate life. These two themes, so critical to the human experience, seem to follow Bryan where ever he goes and into whatever work he does.

He spoke a lot about that at his recent Vulture Festival panel. Accented with clips from movies that inspired him when he was young, Bryan shared about his background, his development as a filmmaker, and shed light on some of his latest projects. In attendance were his loyal fans, some from Hannibal, others from Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and American Gods, all eager to chip away and learn a little bit about what makes Bryan tick.

The first clip was from Salem’s Lot, a film adapted from a Stephen King tale. Bryan spoke about its impact on him and how it was one of the first films where he watched a child die. He realized very quickly through film that no one was safe, not even children, and instead of giving into fear he pushed into it. Some of his best work seems to come from his willingness to face mortality and work around it, all the while bringing out some of the best and worst in people in beautiful ways.

Bryan shared that he also drew inspiration from his childhood. Growing up in Eastern Washington, serial killers were plentiful and he had to deal with the reality that monsters lurked among them, waiting patiently to strike. As someone who also grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I can confirm that for some reason such a beautiful part of the country is marred with famous killers.

Despite the gore, Bryan found himself fascinated and would often go in search of evidence of the atrocities committed, never concerned with staring death in the face.

As a young man he consumed as much genre-specific media as he could, even when he did not have access to the horror movies themselves. Magazines, photo-novels, and any other promotional material he could get his hands on was consumed with gusto.

One of the next clips played during the panel was the famous chestburster scene from Alien, a film that inspired both Bryan and the moderator. Bryan pointed out that for him, there was something inherently fascinating with the concept of being out of control. In Alien, he saw people having to deal with things coming out of them that they were unable to stop and the terror that loss of control brings with it.

He tied all of this into the concept of “body betrayal,” a theme he utilizes a lot in the work that he does. In this, Bryan was heavily inspired by the work of David Cronenberg, the Baron of Blood.

It probably comes as no surprise then that Bryan originally went to college for psychology. He explained that all of his psychology papers were centered around film. One day one of his professors pulled him aside and told him he needed to stop studying psychology and go to film school. I think everyone who enjoys his work is thankful for that professor who set Bryan on a path which led him to where he is today, producing some of the best television available.

When asked about other book adaptations, in light of his work on American Gods, Bryan shared that he would love to do a film adaptation of Geek Love. He read it in college and it definitely left a mark for him. The audience ‘oooh’ed’ in reply, so if there are any producers out there who are interested you know who to hit up.

Eventually the moderator threw the questions to the audience, who asked about the music that goes into Bryan’s work. He dropped the news that Debbie Harry recorded a song for the final episode of American Gods, and along those spoilery lines suggested that the storm seen throughout the series so far deserves the audience’s attention. Everything is symbolic.

After the panel ended, Bryan gathered with fans outside of the venue for a group selfie and took time to talk with everyone. As if his fans weren’t already endeared to him, the constant care he shows to the people who love his stuff is commendable and rare in the world of television and film. If every showrunner was like him, I imagine people would not know what to do with themselves.

The panel was phenomenal, and it was fun to hear about what has inspired Bryan over the years. It is clear that he has taken the inspiration and run with it into every production as he continues to amaze everyone who watches his shows. We are looking forward to his continuing work on American Gods as well as whatever is next for the infamous genius Bryan Fuller.

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