Screenwriter Dean Georgaris had an interest in American military special forces that was initially more of a hobby than anything else. He would watch documentaries and do research by night — while writing major feature films by day. His credits include everything from 2004’s “The Manchurian Candidate” to “Paycheck,” directed by John Woo.
When he finally got the idea to do a television series, he was motivated by one thing: He had never seen the stories he was reading about and caring about portrayed as TV dramas for mass audiences.
“Over time, I just started to notice that the things that seemed to make these people most engaging, most interesting, and most inspirational were qualities that I hadn’t seen dramatized in fiction,” the LA-based writer told LifeZette in an exclusive interview about his upcoming series “The Brave,” which premieres September 25 on NBC.
The series follows elite and covert military members who accomplish missions behind enemy lines in a variety of countries. The cast includes Anne Heche, Tate Ellington, Sofia Pernas and others.
Georgaris, 47, said he looked at popular shows like “ER” and “Southland” when he conceived and pitched his program. He wanted the drama to come from authentic stakes, rather than infused melodrama.
He said programs like “ER” and “Southland” didn’t “feel the need to overdramatize what was already incredibly, inherently dramatic.”
To help create an “immersive experience” for viewers, Georgaris sought help. One person he turned to was former Navy SEAL and filmmaker Mikal Vega.
By bringing Vega into the writing room and having him on the set as a consultant, Georgaris and his team were able to hear exactly what Hollywood typically gets wrong in its endless depictions of the military.
To help better convey the ideas of improvisation, teamwork, and movements inherent to military missions, Vega took the actors and worked them hard, having them perform weeks of “movement drills.”
Through those rehearsals, an authenticity was born from the pilot episode (shot in Morocco, Africa) — and Georgaris hopes to keep it running during the entire series.
“Authenticity in every moment of the show” — that is his ultimate goal for the series, said Georgaris. He’ll be avoiding “artificial stakes” in favor of reality whenever possible, he said.
It’s a goal shared by his team as well, as Vega is sticking around as a consultant with a possible expanded role in the future of the series, while lead actor Mike Vogel, according to Georgaris, “comes from a military family” and “nearly went into the Special Forces himself.”
Georgaris said he feels a “profound sense of responsibility to portray [military members] accurately,” and the stories he tells will be a “mixed bag” of real-life missions and fictional elements that work to “enhance” or “draw that story out.”
“The Brave” will face stiff competition when it premieres, as it’s one of a handful of new military dramas. CBS is debuting “SEAL Team” as part of its fall lineup, The CW has the military show “Valor,” and the History Channel is soon debuting the second season of its show “Six,” based on the missions of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6.
“Hollywood is talking about [military dramas] almost as if it’s a new genre.”
“Hollywood is talking about it [military dramas] almost as if it’s a new genre,” said Georgaris of the chatter about the influx of programs. “It’s one of the four cornerstones of television genres of drama. It used to be military, hospital, police, legal. And then we just shied away from the military for the last 15 years.”
Enough time has passed, he added, for there to be a hunger for dramas that highlight America’s military and the things these brave men and women accomplish around the globe.
Georgaris also sees something that sets his show apart from the others debuting this fall. “The Brave” is “more like ‘Mission: Impossible’ than just a straight regular military show,” he said, “because that’s the reality.” He said the presence of America’s Special Forces in so many countries and their wide variety of jobs around the globe expands his show’s storytelling potential.
The “inspiring people” in his show will help him highlight exactly the sort of programming television needs right now, he said. Georgaris wants his series to “tell people about these great stories that are happening right under their noses.”
“The Brave” premieres on September 25 on NBC.
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