Creating stories that touch people (and sell) Powered by Simplecast

Creating stories that touch people (and sell)

MAY 1ST, 2020 | 31:34 | E1


In this episode, we meet Dana Richie. Dana Richie is a world-renowned content producer and entrepreneur based out of Los Angeles, California. Dana creates entertainment, news, and documentary content that has won international awards and has been seen by tens of millions of people worldwide. In this episode, we learn how Dana’s successful storytelling approach helps the brands that hire her to touch their customers and sell more products and services.


Dana Richie is a born storyteller and uses her talents to help brands tell stories.

At an early age, Dana began writing for Houston newspapers, and reported on the important topics of the day. A native of Texas, everything Dana does is big, and when she graduated college, she went to CNN in Atlanta, and then up to New York City where she worked with Barbara Walters on 20/20. Then she landed at VH1. Dana has interviewed some of the most powerful and newsworthy people on the planet. Her success at landing these jobs and connecting with people revolves around storytelling.

Now, Dana is a successful Los Angeles-based founder and CEO of her own company, Backlot Productions. You can find Dana Richie and her amazing portfolio of work at

Here’s what you’ll hear and learn in this episode:

  1. How to manifest your energy around something you love and make it a priority so it happens for you
  2. How to tell and sell a story
  3. How to find your motivation and tap into your grit to overcome obstacles
  4. What a mentor can do for you

The Alan Charles Show (74) Gateway Documentary Part I




Yahoo News: GATEWAY Documentary to Screen at Garden State Film Festival Reveals Surgery as an Often Overlooked Contributor to Opioid Epidemic

GATEWAY Documentary to Screen at Garden State Film Festival Reveals Surgery as an Often Overlooked Contributor to Opioid Epidemic

PR Newswire

Award-Winning Documentary Features Three Families Impacted by Opioid Addiction That Began with a Prescription to Manage Pain After Surgery

PARSIPPANY, N.J.March 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — GATEWAY, an award-winning film that presents the stories of three families inadvertently impacted by opioid addiction that began with a prescription to manage pain after surgery, will be showcased as an Official Selection of the 18th Annual Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The screening will take place on Saturday, March 28 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. at the Berkeley Hotel Continental Room. The 40-minute documentary is presented by Choices Matter – a national movement designed to educate and empower patients to have proactive discussions with their clinicians about available non-opioid options for managing postsurgical pain.

Since its debut in late 2019, GATEWAY has garnered several prestigious accolades, including:

  • Best Documentary Feature from the LA Movie Awards
  • Best Director and Best Documentary Featurette from the Festigious Film Festival
  • Official Selection for the Docs Without Borders Film Festival
  • Award of Merit for Documentary Short and Humanitarian Award from the Best Shorts Competition
  • Award of Merit for Documentary Short from the Impact DOCS Awards

The deeply-moving film is thoughtfully told through the eyes and hearts of everyday American families who were introduced to opioids after surgery and go on to battle with addiction – either personally or as a caregiver to a loved one. The result is a humanizing and eye-opening look into the struggles that can be caused by legal opioid prescriptions when the dangers of these medications are not properly understood. The film features a woman who faced addiction following a Cesarean section, a high school athlete who struggled with opioids after suffering multiple sports-related injuries, a young woman who has battled addiction for over a decade, and a surgeon who has made it his mission to reduce opioid prescribing after surgery.

“It’s been an extremely humbling and inspiring experience to be part of this important film, and I’m thrilled that it has received so much recognition, including being chosen to screen at the Garden State Film Festival,” said Dr. Richard Chudacoff, an obstetrician and gynecologist based in New Providence, N.J. who is featured in the film. “The nation is at a crossroads with the current opioid epidemic and, as surgeons, we have an important role to play in reducing unnecessary exposure to opioids. By using a combination with other non-opioid medications, including a long-acting numbing medication injected during surgery, I have been able to effectively manage my C-section patients’ pain without exposing them to opioids and their associated risks. I have seen firsthand the positive impact this has on patient recovery and now I’m hoping other surgeons will follow suit.”

The GATEWAY screening at the Garden State Film Festival is open to the public with a purchased ticket. Interested parties can visit for more information. GATEWAY director Dana Richie will be available for questions in the filmmaker’s lounge at the Berkley Hotel throughout the day and immediately following the screening. To watch the full documentary, or to find other materials related to non-opioid options, please visit

About Choices Matter
Choices Matter is a national movement designed to educate patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals about the non-opioid options available for managing pain after surgery, and to promote proactive discussions about pain management choices before surgery. To learn more about Choices Matter visit

About Garden State Film Festival
The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) was envisioned by 25-year film industry veteran Diane Raver and the late Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli in 2002 and launched the following year. Since 2003, thousands of films have made their public premieres, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world have attended; and the total infusion of cash to local businesses since inception exceeds $5million. It is held in Asbury Park and surrounding area. The GSFF is a 501-c-3non–profit organization. For more information about the Garden State Film Festival, contact:



View original content to download multimedia:

SOURCE Choices Matter

Videos In Media

KOAT Action News7: Local mother tells story of son’s overdose death in newly released documentary

Albuquerque is in the national spotlight. A mother is telling her story about her son, who was a high school athlete who got injured.Cameron Weiss took pills for the pain.

His mother, Jennifer Weiss-Burke, said Cameron got hooked on heroin very quickly. It was unrelenting.

He died of a drug overdose when he was just 18.

“I went into his room to check on him, and he was passed away in his bed,” his mother said.

In the last decade, KOAT has told you the story of Weiss-Burke and her husband, David Burke.

The Albuquerque couple used that grief and experience to open a center for teens struggling with drug addiction.

Their story was so compelling, Backlot Productions made a documentary about it that also featured two other American families.

The documentary, called “Gateway” premiered in Hollywood this week.

The production company flew the Burkes to Los Angeles to attend.

It is emotional and personal. It also talks about alternatives to opiates, especially after surgery.

The family may appear on Entertainment Tonight this weekend.

As far as the documentary “Gateway” — you can see it online. It will also be shown at the Kimo Theater next month.


Videos In Media

Daily Mail: New ways to treat pain that don’t lead to opioid addiction.


Videos In Media

Entertainment Tonight: ‘Gateway’ First Look: How Surgery and Opioids Transformed Lives (Exclusive)

‘Gateway’ First Look: How Surgery and Opioids Transformed Lives (Exclusive)

‘Gateway’ presents the stories of three families whose lives were changed forever by opioid addiction that began with a prescription to manage pain after surgery. For more information, visit

In the Media

Washington Post: Did ‘SNL’ settle on someone else’s joke? It doesn’t matter.

Dec. 9, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. MST

If you’re single and dating, you’re likely to relate to last week’s “Saturday Night Live” sketch hawking a fake dating app called Settl, which allows users to only swipe right. The sketch (which you can watch here) features women who want to get married NOW — and most important, before their sisters. They talk about going on “tons of okay dates” with “normal guys” whose characteristics they’re “now willing to overlook.”

The sketch capitalized on a familiar feeling for online daters: Is this all there is?! At this point, I’d settle for a normal human. 

But is the sketch too familiar?

Two men — Matt Condon and Ben Zweig — are claiming that “SNL” ripped off their September presentation at Comedy Hack Day in Los Angeles, about a dating app called … wait for it … settl. Their fake app also only accepts right swipes! “At settl, we try to really push a culture of acceptance and positivity for abandoning relationship expectations,” Zweig says in the settl presentation, which has the feel of a mock TED talk.

“SNL” hasn’t commented publicly about the accusation. (I reached out by phone and email and haven’t heard back.) But whether or not the joke was stolen, no sketch about mediocre online dates — and the impulse to give up and settle — is all that original. The premise might be as common as the lackluster dates found on any dating app or site.

Here are a few other examples: Earlier this week, Re/Code pointed out that the Settl sketch closely resembled YouTuber Ryan Higa’s mock TV ad for Notice the familiar phrasing in the final line in “SNL’s” sketch: “Because, remember — it’s not giving up. It’s settling up.”

And then there’s JDate’s parody, an ad for a site called Eh for those who are “sick and tired of having high expectations when you meet someone on a dating site.” How’s this for a romantic How We Met story: “When I first met Nathan, my initial thought was: ‘Sure, ya know. I guess.’”

Seen any other videos like these? Drop ’em in the comments.

In the Media Ashley Greene Shows Off Her New Home with Husband Paul Khoury Five Years After Condo Fire

Before Ashley Greene and her husband, Paul Khoury, got married, they were excited about making a union in their home. But the space was the one thing they struggled to combine and agree upon.

To resolve their conflict, the Twilight actress and Khoury, who is a partner in Lokai, turned to designer Kelli Ellis of the online makeover series Design Therapy, part of the The Design Network.Over five webisodes, Ellis puts the couple through a series of tests in their living, dining and guest bedrooms in order to harmoniously combine their styles.

The redecoration of one space brought up a particular painful moment for Greene.

In the first episode, the actress gets emotional while talking to Ellis about the pieces in her guest bedroom, as she explains that the furnishings in the room are the only pieces that survived a fire that destroyed her previous home.

After Guest Bedroom

The West Hollywood condo suffered a devastating fire in 2013. Law enforcement said at the time the cause was not determined. Firefighters were able to save one of Greene’s two fox terriers that were in the apartment at the time.

“I woke up to it being completely engulfed in flames,” Greene says. “I lost pretty much everything except those pieces and so I’ve kind of been holding on to them.”

“It doesn’t really fit the aesthetic of what I want for the house and I do want to make this our home,” she adds. “We’re getting married. We want to start things fresh. I think it’s time that those things pass on and move on. It’s been a journey.”

RELATED: Inside Ashley Benson’s ‘Sex and the City-Style’ Manhattan Apartment: ‘I Took More Risks’


The other rooms, thankfully, didn’t carry quite as heavy a history. Ellis began her work in the couple’s living room, where she mentions she really sees “a fight” between Greene and her then-fiancé’s styles, as they had essentially split the room down the middle to have his and hers sides. The dining room was a more masculine room, with a vintage wooden table as the centerpiece surrounded by muted chairs.

“We decided we wanted something that could be beat up a little bit because we like to do a lot of arts-and-crafts nights,” Khoury tells Ellis.

WATCH THIS: Ashley Greene Reveals the Souvenir She Stole from the Set of Twilight.

In the final episode of the mini-series, Ellis transforms each of their spaces to be a cohesive mix of their styles, keeping the elements they loved, like a purple chair in the guest room and the 1980s table in the dining room, but sprucing up the space so it feels more like they created it together.

RELATED: Bella Swan’s Home from Twilight for Sale for $350K — See the Interiors, Unchanged Since Filming


“We’re really excited to kind of move forward together with the way the house is decorated now,” Greene says. “Going through all of the actual therapy side of it was really fun and it was perfect to do before you get married. It’s just another building block to work with. It’s really cool now that the house reflects both of us.”

In addition to getting interiors inspiration, viewers can actually shop the pieces they’re seeing in the home (both before and after), on the Design Network site.

Greene and Khoury wed in June in front of family and several famous friends, including her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson, Liam Hemsworth, Zac EfronBrittany Snow, Lauren and Aaron Paul, and Evan and Ashlee Simpson-Ross, as reported by Brides magazine.

In the Media

The Hollywood Times: Dana Richie- Award winning Filmmaker and Producer and Founder of Backlot Productions

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/20/20- Dana Richie’s new award-winning film, Gateway is gaining momentum. “The idea for Gateway came from a national movement called Choices Matter, which aims to educate people about non-opioid options available to manage pain after surgery. They came to me initially asking for short-form content around patient stories; however, after our first shoot in Maryland, we knew this was going to be a bigger project. The organic nature of this film was very special.- Dana Richie

You don’t just tell stories, you continuously find innovative ways to bring stories alive. Tell us about your creative process. 

Dana RichieStorytelling is my passion. Ever since I can remember, I was creating fictional characters and telling stories to anyone who would listen. Family members, friends, even teachers. That process solidified my desire to tell all kinds of stories, so when I accepted my first job as a news print reporter in Houston, Texas, I quickly learned that everyone has a story to tell. This made me very interested in non-fictional stories too. As I continued to interview people telling true-life stories and took a deeper dive into their journeys, I realized that no two stories are ever the same, and telling those stories should be approached with an innovative attitude and customized care.

When did you get your first break? 

Dana RichieI got my first break after college when I landed a role at CNN in Atlanta as an entry-level “Video Journalist”. They had us running the TelePrompter live for the anchors and even live studio camera! It was a trial-by-fire education and I learned a lot. I was able to learn the ins and outs of television production and continued to hone my storytelling skills.

What is it about the entertainment business that intrigues you the most? 

Dana RichieWhat intrigues me about the entertainment industry is the incredible opportunity that I get to interact with so many creative people who share the same love of storytelling. I’m also fascinated by how fast the industry is changing and how much progress is being made from linear to non-linear formats of storytelling that have an extraordinary reach and remarkable speed of content consumption.

Tell us a bit about your diverse background. 

Dana RichieSince I love telling all kinds of stories, I find that formats have no boundaries. A series, a commercial, a documentary, a scripted show… all are challenging and exciting formats in which to tell stories that can have impact and rally the audience engagement. I especially like it when someone walks away with an emotional response to my content, always a great feeling.

You are an award-winning filmmaker and producer. What are you most proud of? 

Dana RichieI’m very proud of my debut documentary, Gateway, which premiered October 2019 and explores the opioid epidemic through the eyes of three families who have battled addiction following surgery. As a new filmmaker, it’s been a humbling and incredible experience to share the emotional stories of these documentary participants in an authentic way that best represents their struggles, hope, and truth. I’m looking forward to telling more stories that are just as heartfelt and impactful. Directing and producing Gateway was a real labor of love and a great team collaborative effort.

Tell us about MUSIC FIRST

Dana RichieMusic First is a scripted sitcom I’m developing and producing about my days as a VH1 News producer. It’s set in the early 2000s in an MTV-style music newsroom and I’m collaborating with Brian Graden Media on the project. (Brian ran MTV & VH1 for over a decade). I’m currently co-writing the pilot. Expect an announcement on this project soon!

Tell us about your new film, Gateway. Why is this so special to you? 

Dana RichieThe idea for Gateway came from a national movement called Choices Matter, which aims to educate people about non-opioid options available to manage pain after surgery. They came to me initially asking for short-form content around patient stories; however, after our first shoot in Maryland, we knew this was going to be a bigger project. The organic nature of this film was very special.


Gateway ended up being a 40-minute short documentary that follows the lives of three families impacted by the opioid epidemic. We follow a mom who got addicted to opioids after a C-section, a doctor who doesn’t prescribe opioids anymore, another mom who lost her son to opioids at the age of 18, and a young woman who has been struggling with opioid addiction. Gateway is special to me because of the special people who are in it and all of the special friends I made along the way. It’s also special since it’s my debut documentary.

Share some of your awards for Gateway. What are a couple of points that you want the audience to know? 

Gateway has won the following awards: 

  • Won Best Director and Best Documentary Featurette from the Festigious Film Festival
  • Won Best Documentary Feature from the LA Movie Awards
  • Received an Award of Merit for Documentary Short and Humanitarian Award from the Best Shorts Competition
  • Received an Award of Merit for Documentary Short from the Impact DOCS Awards
  • Official selection for the Docs Without Borders Film Festival
  • Selected for screening at the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, NJ this March

What’s next for you? 

Dana RichieNext up is a mini-documentary in association with Bards of Nevermore about the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Dana Richie- Award-Winning Filmmaker and Producer and Founder of Backlot Productions 

In the Media

Reel 360: On the Backlot with filmmaker Dana Richie

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory”

Dana Richie doesn’t just tell stories—she brings them to life… This Reel Woman is continuously finding innovative, boundary-breaking ways to do it. From documentaries to scripted series, to original branded content and beyond, Dana combines her visionary approach with her ability to cut straight to the beating heart of a story—whatever that may be—to create something entirely new, authentic, and ahead of the curve.

An award-winning filmmaker and producer, Dana honed her craft at the era’s most iconic news and entertainment networks, including CNN, ABC News 20/20, and Viacom/ VH1.

Dana carried those skills with her into the entertainment world. She joined Viacom/ VH1 and helped launch flagship programming such as I Love the 80s, I Love the 90s, Best Week Ever, and Where are They Now — while simultaneously working on Behind the Music, the network’s groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed documentary series.

Dana was also VH1’s Red Carpet correspondent, covering the Oscars, the Grammys, and other major award shows. She interviewed the biggest names in film and music as well, going on the set for movie and music video shoots, and creating highlight packages that engaged fans.

Her diverse background molded Dana into what she is today: a storytelling expert with a savvy for captivating, easy-to-consume media.

Dana’s company Backlot Productions is the product of that expertise as well as her intuitive understanding of content and where it is heading.

When Dana started Backlot Productions in 2002 it was a side project. Having been in the business of creating digestible content and programming for so many years, Dana was able to foresee the untapped potential in that category for brands.

What she didn’t foresee was how rapidly her client base would grow through referrals, networking and word-of-mouth.

Landmark brands like SONY, Smartwater, Hennessy, L’Oréal, General Motors, Jeep, Refinery29, Yahoo!, Humana, Hulu and Hard Rock Café have sought out Backlot not just to shape their stories—but to do so in ever-more innovative, relevant and resonant ways.

A fully-integrated content agency, today Backlot spans entertainment marketing, branded content, reality shows and scripted sitcoms. Taking a 360-approach to content creation, every project is both authentic and results-driven— tailored to the client’s unique voice, demographics, and goals.

Not too shabby for someone who was mentored by Barbara Walters.

Currently, Backlot is at work on Music First, a scripted sitcom she created that is particularly personal for Dana. Inspired by her experience as a VH1 producer and correspondent, the show centers around a music network newsroom in the early 2000s. Also in production is Bionic Boss— that a docu-series that takes viewers inside a very different kind of workplace: a company that makes prosthetics for amputees.

Dana stays centered with yoga and meditation, and throughout her nearly-three decades in the industry, she’s developed a mantra of her own: “Keep Going.” Those two words have guided her success as a journalist, filmmaker, and entrepreneur— and they continue to drive her forward as she, and her company, and media as a whole, continue to evolve.

Let’s meet Dana.

What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? I knew early on that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry so I’m living my dream! 🙂

How Did You Get into Entertainment/Media? While at college in Texas, I got an internship at CNN Atlanta and ended up with a full-time job there upon graduation.  After two years at CNN, I got a job at ABC News 20/20 where I developed my interviewing skills for being a future documentary filmmaker and content creator.

Who Were Your Mentors? Barbara Walters was one of my personal role models and mentor when I worked at 20/20.  I watched her style, etiquette and techniques as I worked on her stories. I had the opportunity to learn from the best.  No one interviews like Barbara and I was so lucky to get an on-set education with her, even as a junior member of the team.  It helped me grow as a creative; deeply influenced my own interview style, and compassion

Name Your Biggest Achievement My documentary Gateway, sponsored by Choices Matter, that debuted in October 2019 on the opioid epidemic that’s currently on the film festival circuit.

Biggest Disappointment Early in my career, an investor partnered with my production company Backlot, which I’ve led for over a decade.  The partnership didn’t work out. Though we remain friendly I learned great lessons about perseverance and fortitude, never give up and believe in yourself against all odds – it works!

Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves Inconsistency, lack of integrity, no follow through.

Predictions for Entertainment/Media over the Next Decade Brands will become their own studios driving customized content to engage fans.

Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People I worked in my local Houston, Texas bagel shop.  It lasted one day!

Who Plays You in Your Life Story? Carrie Bradshaw.

What do You Wish You had More Time for? Relax.

Do You Talk to Yourself? Positive self-talk is crucial for success.

What Inspires You to be Creative? Romeo, my beloved 13 year old Beagle/Chihuahua mix.

On the Backlot with filmmaker Dana Richie