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L.A. Confidential with Barry Levy ’90

When Barry Levy ’90 moved to Ann Arbor to begin 9th grade at Greenhills, his recognizable Boston accent and culture shock gave him away.

“I’ve never been more intellectually challenged than my four years at Greenhills,” he says today. “Not undergraduate studies at Washington University, not graduate work at USC. Before Greenhills I didn’t know how to put together a compelling argument or organize my thoughts. The study methods that I gleaned in the classrooms of Mr. Zellers and other faculty members are what led me to my later accomplishments.”

While at Greenhills, Levy gravitated toward the arts—every fall play and even an odd musical, and creative writing. He once convinced his math teacher to let him shoot a film for a project. In college he built an interdisciplinary major around American history, psychology, and film studies, including summer courses at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, which culminated in his writing and directing a feature-length movie on campus. That film resulted in his acceptance to the famed USC cinematic arts program.

Today Levy lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and three kids, who accompanied him back to school recently for a tour and visit with Mr. Zellers while in town for a college visit.

Over his long career in the entertainment industry, Levy has worked his way up from an assistant position to the executive ranks to producing and then ultimately writing low budget horror films to his perch today as an in-demand writer/producer on major projects. His breakthrough was screenwriting and selling Vantage Point, a drama series collaboration with Steven Spielberg and Tom Clancy.

This summer a television series that Levy created and ran will premiere on Apple TV+. Entitled Me, the show tracks the coming of age of a superhero.

Me is inspired by the fact that we have identical twin girls and a boy who is two-and-a-half years younger,” shared Levy.

“He has always been assumed to be a triplet, and the central idea of the show is exploring who do you want to be? The character Ben is 13 years old and coming to terms with the fact that he may have a superpower–it’s essentially a family story of a shape-shifter.”

Levy’s day-to-day responsibilities revolve around two types of work—work for hire and spec work. He also teaches on an adjunct basis at USC.

“I tell anyone who wants to get into the film business that the learning curve has to be understood as a marathon not a sprint,” he said. “The breadth of an education like at Greenhills—a liberal arts education—is key in order to distinguish yourself. It’s tough to break into this business and standing out for other interests in a writing room can make a difference. Just as crucial are understanding leadership, excellent communications skills, and knowing how to take criticism, particularly when you may need to coordinate as many as 200-300 people on a project.”

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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