Dana Richie doesn’t just tell stories—she brings them to life…And she finds continuously 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. That diverse background molded her 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. A pioneer in both branded and original short- form content, nearly two decades later, Backlot continues to redefine how brands connect with their audiences. 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.
Dana began her career at CNN in 1991. In the midst of the Gulf War and, concurrently, the network’s meteoric rise as a leader in cable news it was the perfect crash course in the chaos and excitement of news television. Two years later, upon the recommendation of her former CNN colleague, Catherine Crier who had departed for ABC, Dana was brought on as an assistant producer for ABC News 20/20. Dana’s fearless work in the investigative unit at 20/20 won several awards— including a Cine Golden Eagle and a Genesis Award from the Humane Society, as well as a Peabody Award, earned collectively. While there, she also worked closely with Barbara Walters, who became a mentor to her and helped hone her interview skills.
Dana carried those skills with her into the entertainment world. She joined Viacom/ VH1 in 1999, spearheading News Series & Specials for the network and running its Los Angeles office for their New York headquarters . Dana’s role at VH1 was expansive: She 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 set for movie and music video shoots, and creating highlight packages that engaged fans. 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.
A fully-integrated content agency, today Backlot spans entertainment marketing, branded content, reality show sizzles 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.
The kind of content Dana and Backlot create continues to evolve: In 2019, she tackled her largest-scale project to date— Gateway. Dana’s directorial debut film, Gateway follows three families inadvertently ravaged by opioid addiction. Showcasing the perils of prescription pain management after surgery, the film underscores the human cost of the opioid epidemic.
Gateway, which Dana directed, wrote and co-executive produced, debuted to immediate impact, winning the Festigious LA International Film Festival’s best documentary short and best director. It’s also in current competition at the Impact DOCS Awards with official selection and also in the Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
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. 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 continue to evolve.