Rider Strong Talks Short Films, Nerd Culture, And ‘Boy Meets World’
Rider Strong may be most well known for his work on Boy Meets World, a show that many of us grew up watching on ABC’s TGIF, but he’s been up to a lot more since the series wrapped. Rider graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University, and he received his M.F.A. in Fiction and Literature from Bennington College. Rider hasn’t forgotten Hollywood though, he’s just been exploring a different side of it – writing and directing.
“I wanted to have more life experiences that were not just about acting. So that’s why I went to college and studied literature – didn’t go to film school. I’ve done other things, and that’s always been a conscious effort to make sure my life doesn’t shrink into the next acting gig.” Rider explained, “I’m glad I’m moving into writing and directing. I think if I had stayed in acting for all my life, I don’t know, you sort of limit yourself. Now I can take a lot of the experiences I got from acting and channel them to tell stories about some of the other things I’m interested in.”
The Dungeon Master was the short that Rider and his brother, Shiloh, were promoting while at Comic Con. It’s a story about friends who used to play D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) as kids who stopped, and then rediscover it later. Not being able to remember the rules, they invite a true D&Der to play with them. When he shows up wearing a cape though, things get awkward. The inspiration for the film was pulled from their own lives, and Rider openly admits he is a nerd.
“There are so many different subcategories of nerd and geek, but I’m definitely more of a literary nerd. A book nerd. I can geek out on that for days. ” Rider smiled, “I don’t play D&D regularly anymore. We still play Magic: The Gathering – totally into that, but I’m not very good at it.”
Comic Con tends to bring out the inner-nerd in all of us though. The day before my interview with Rider, I actually ran into him walking the halls of the convention center. It seems as if plenty of fans would recognize him, as my friend actually did, but Rider told me it’s not that common anymore.
“It’s not happening a whole lot. In the last few years, Boy Meets World has kind of died down in the public consciousness.” Rider replied, “But since it’s been off the Disney Channel and off ABC Family, except in the mornings, it doesn’t happen that often.”
Many of us did grow up watching Boy Meets World though, admiring Topanga’s hair, crushing on Shawn, wishing Mr. Feeny had been our school principle…. But what was that show for Rider growing up? His answer was my favorite part of the interview.
“The Wonder Years.” Rider answered with a grin, “That’s why it was so cool when I got Boy Meets World, to be working with Fred [Savage]’s younger brother. Fred ended up directing a couple episodes of Boy Meets World, and he was in one. It was just cool. In a way, it was funny that Boy Meets World ended up taking up the mantle. It’s a very different show. The Wonder Years was more of a drama, but as far as a show that kids could relate to and identify with as a part of their childhood – yeah for me it’s The Wonder Years.”
So what’s next for Rider? He’s already made another short film called Method which premiered at the Palm Springs Short Festival in June, and while he’ll continue going to festivals with that film as well, the real goal is to make a feature film.
“A lot of times, that’s why you make shorts.” Rider explained, “You can get your work out there and attract interest. Because we have been playing festivals, winning awards, and doing well – we’ve been able to get good representation, directors, and writers. So now we’ll start taking all those meetings and try to convince Hollywood we can actually do something.”
So, let me close this with a fangirl moment – Rider was one of my favorite interviews at Comic Con. In part because Boy Meets World was that show that I identify with my childhood, but also because I really respect and admire what he’s done with his career. He’s a grounded guy, charming, and clearly very talented. I look forward to seeing the future projects that he takes part in – as well as both the films he’s currently promoting. We’re planning to check out The Dungeon Master at Dragon Con film festival next month – so we can bring you a review of it, but until then you can check out the websites for both of his shorts here: http://thedungeonmastermovie.com and http://www.methodthemovie.com/.
Wondering where you can see the films? Film festivals are the only locations right now. Rider did say they were looking to put them online at some point though – so keep checking back and follow Rider and his brother Shiloh on Twitter for more updates on the films.
Check out my full interview with him below.
Interview By: Emma Loggins