Danny Bilson Named New Director USC Games Department

Danny Bilson- Wonacott Communications Publicity-P 2019
Courtesy of Wonacott Communications

The screenwriter, director and father of actress Rachel Bilson also has exec experience at game companies like THQ and EA.

Danny Bilson — screenwriter, director and father of actress Rachel Bilson — has been named director of USC Games, the video game design and production program offered by the university. Bilson currently serves as chair of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ interactive media and game division. He succeeds game designer Tracy Fullerton, who oversaw the program from 2014 to 2018.

"Game development is a real cross-discipline art form," Bilson tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Our objective is to get the engineering and development side and the writing side and close all the loops that weren’t closed and create a school where we’re all working together."

In addition to his experience in Hollywood, Bilson has worked on a number of video game titles, including as a consulting producer to Electronic Arts on 2000's The Sims. He previously served as a senior exec at both EA and THQ. He has been on the faculty of USC's School of Cinematic Arts since 2005.

Recently, Bilson sold a screenplay, Da 5 Bloods, which he co-wrote with late writing partner Paul DeMeo, to director Spike Lee. It is currently in production. He also worked as a consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering on the upcoming Disneyland attraction Star Wars Land. 

"I believe the future of entertainment is storytelling applied across all these different delivery systems," he says. "Our art form now has gotten to a level that demands quality worlds, characters and storytelling."

While USC is currently embroiled in a tuition scandal that included Hollywood stars such as Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, Bilson says his department was unaffected. "I only know about what I’ve read. None of that has touched anything around our area that I’m aware of," he says.

"I think that all of these things that happen make us more aware and cautious," he continues. "If these sort of egregious errors are exposed we will, of course, be more vigilant about them."

Key initiatives for USC Games moving forward will include hosting workshops where students will design commercial games with members of the industry, building job placement initiatives for graduating students, creating and designing games for "health" and expansion of board game design training and experimentation. Additionally, the program will focus on building partnerships with location-based entertainment services and expand the USC Esports Union, the university's first official e-sports program.

"I really do see it growing," Bilson says of the USC Games department. "If we can host and train people as well as our film department does, I think it's deserving of it. I think the industry is deserving of it."