Dean Bell ’83
An Honors graduate of the Purchase College BFA Film Program, A. Dean Bell is an award-winning writer and director with a wide variety of film, television and media experience. His second feature film, What Alice Found, garnered a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Grand Prize at the Deauville Film Festival by Jury Chair Roman Polanski. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Sweet, suspenseful, funny, poignant and adult…an unexpected treat for sophisticated audiences.”
Other notable works include developing the nighttime drama Step Dude for Fox Broadcasting, directing the theatrical segments for the PBS documentary Sweet Tornado and as writer/director/showrunner on the long-running ESPN series SportsFigures. The program won most major education media awards, including a regional Emmy, a Hugo Silver Plaque, and was a four-time Clarion Award winner. Dean’s work has been seen on PBS, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, USA Networks, ESPN, Travel Channel, CBS, Nickleodeon, Sundance Channel and IFC.
Looking Back as a Film Student
Recalling his time as a Purchase student in the BFA film program, Bell said, “The most important thing I took away from Purchase was the ‘can do’ attitude the Film program fostered in all of us. They gave us a long leash and expected us to take the initiative, then provided the support in terms of guidance and access to the equipment we needed to make films. Being surrounded by others with this same attitude was also a big part of it; this feeling we could ‘do it’.”
When asked about his career trajectory, Dean said: “I feel like my career followed kind of what I had thought out for myself. I began by working in feature film production – mainly in the editing phase. This gave me a toe-hold in the business through my 20’s. Along the way I was optioning screenplays and in my 30’s I began to make a living writing and directing all kinds of projects. At 34, I was hired to write and direct a feature film. I then was fortunate to get a long-running cable TV series, which was creatively satisfying and gave me the stability to pursue other projects. I founded my own production company, Factory Films Inc. in 1999 and did a variety of projects over the years. At 43, I made a successful and artistically gratifying feature film. Along the way I had begun teaching and with the recession of 2008, I eventually segued into the academic world. I am fortunate to have taught at Purchase, Rutgers, NYU and LIU. I continue to write my own works and hope/expect now that my child is grown, I will have more time to pursue my own career again.”
Talking about his post-Purchase studies, Dean remarked, “I was greatly influenced by taking Robert McKee’s master class in storytelling and Frank Danielle’s screenplay analysis class at Columbia. But “doing” is the best form of study and I’ve spent 30 plus years at it.”
Actively engaged in several varied projects, Dean said, “I am currently adapting a one-woman show into a screenplay –Ripple of Hope–with the expectation I will direct it. I recently had my short play One Night produced at Gallery Players, New York’s oldest off-off Broadway venue. The two other major creative acts of my life have been raising my now college-age son and renovating a 150-year old row house in Brooklyn.”