Brian Dery has kept busy since graduating from Full Sail’s Film program in 1998. After being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 1999 – a virus that attacked his neurological system and left him paralyzed for months – he was inspired to start Triple Knot Productions in 2005, a non-profit film production company that specializes in creating documentaries that bring awareness to those with physical and neurological disorders like autism and spinal cord injuries. And earlier this year, he directed his first short film, The Drop Off, about a young boy with autism who is abandoned by his mother.
While all of that sounds like enough to be Brian’s full-time job, it’s not.
Brian, a veteran himself (he served in the Navy before attending Full Sail) is currently the Acting Chief of Medical Media at Orlando’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center. For the past two years, he’s been working on a $5 million project to build and outfit a state-of-the-art video and photo studio within the new Orlando VA Medical Center in Lake Nona, which is currently scheduled to open sometime in 2014.
“I worked back at the VA in 1999, but left to work in the film industry,” says Brian. Several few years later, he wanted to use his training and education in a government-related position, so he returned to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In April 2011, the Acting Chief of Medical Media position opened up and Brian jumped at the opportunity.
The space Brian is overseeing the development of will include separate video and photo studios, a green screen wall, a reproduction printing area, an equipment check-out room, a voiceover room, editing suites, and more. Brian and his team have spent the past year hand-picking the best photo and video equipment for the studios. It’s a major upgrade from the media team’s existing space: an old x-ray room at the VA Medical Center’s current location.
Once the hospital is open, the studio will be used to produce commercials, promotional spots, staff and patient educational videos, and cater to anything else production-wise that the Medical Center department needs. “We may even do some short films that veterans can relate to,” says Brian. “Some 5-10 minute spots about living with PTSD after coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Meanwhile, he’s almost finished editing his new film, The Drop Off, and plans to submit it to several film festivals this year. His next documentary project will involve profiling the homeless women and children population in Tampa.
“I love my job,” says Brian. “I’m a veteran and I love using my media and audio-visual related skills to serve my fellow veterans. Filmmaking is my number one passion in life, so I want to continue to do that.”