Tim Breitbach’s Passion is Showcasing Inspiring Women
Writer, producer, director, showrunner – oh, and don’t forget dedicated husband and father. Tim Breitbach’s life is full and very busy, and that’s just how he likes it.
Recently forming his own company, Optimal Entertainment, Breitbach has been involved in the entertainment business for a number of years, spending the earlier part of his career in advertising.
He grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, earned a journalism and mass communications degree at Iowa State University, but works around the country, now making St. Louis his home.
After moving to the area in 2007, he joined Coolfire Media, and later, as vice president of story development at Coolfire, helped produce such shows as “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” “Fast N’ Loud,” “Funeral Boss,” “MFF: Mom Friends Forever,” “The Frontline For Hope,” “Listed Sisters,”and “House of Cars,” among others.
He likes that the entertainment industry allows him to tell a “longer story” than advertising. And developing shows around strong females that have moved from one point in their lives to another (or are in the process) is right up his alley, especially when he delves into the psychology of the transitions.
“I love creating shows about inspiring women,” Breitbach said. “I like finding fascinating women in transition. Women have an extra level of fortitude that men do not have. Life, in general, provides its own source of pressure, and women are often under pressure that men don’t understand.”
Cases in point: Miss Robbie of Sweetie Pie’s fame faced challenges to overcome; Sue McCarthy of “Resale Royalty (one of Breitbach’s favorites)” was homeless at one time. Many of the women who brought items in to sell did so for reasons that differed from seller to seller. Currently in the works is a new digi-series, “Hope at the Crossroads,” about women at a crossroads in their lives.
“Real stories provide an opportunity that you can’t create,” Breitbach said. “And it can also be complicated and interesting the way people deal with success. There are different pressures that develop from doing well, not from doing bad. The storytelling sometimes revolves around the character being revealed by choices they make while under pressure.”
He also likes telling stories of immigrants, or as he calls it, “import/export” stories.
“We are a nation of immigrants. I like to showcase first-generation immigrants who have positive stories about what they brought to America,” he said. “Cillah Hall fits that category – and she is also a strong woman.”
Inspired by Hall’s accomplishments, Breitbach is currently developing an entertainment project surrounding her journey as an immigrant, a mother and a business person, and the progression of her publication, Gazelle STL.
Before coming to St. Louis, Breitbach and Mark Decena formed Asylum, a strategic creative content company in San Francisco. He and Decena wrotea script for a love story, “Dopamine,” that was accepted in the Sundance Institute Filmmaker’s Lab. They then created Kontent Films and developed “Dopamine” into an award-winning feature film, screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
Breitbach chose St. Louis as his home after his son, Ellis Anthony, was born. And he thought St. Louis was a good place for a career in film. He met the Coolfire team, and decided to go to television – in a bigger way.
“The exciting thing is that we executive-produced 20 program in seven years for all kinds of networks. It was really unheard of, but we put forth the effort, and stayed with it to get over the hurdles,” he said. “We could not have tried any harder, and we helped to create an industry in St. Louis.”
He taught script writing and story producing at Webster University.
“One thing I taught my students was something I learned along the way: Don’t tell the story you want to tell; tell the story you NEED to tell,” he said.
Optimal Entertainment is all about creating an optimal environment for telling optimistic stories.
“I like to tell stories that help people – sometimes through humor,” he said.
He plans to produce non-scripted series, scripted series (comedy and drama, perhaps based on historical events) documentaries, feature films – and maybe home, cooking or travel shows.
And he wants to get back to the writing side of things.
“The writer was always in me, and the other roles are learned,” he said. “I think two of my strengths are listening and empathizing.”
The funny thing is, he knew he wanted to be a writer in the fourth grade when he rewrote “Huck Finn” as a play, thinking that Magic Johnson should be cast in the role of Jim.
“My mind races and wakes me up at 4 a.m. when I’m in the writing mode,” he said.
A real multi-tasker, multiple projects keep Breitbach excited and connected, but his favorite thing to do is spend time at home, and he loves to cook.
Alison is an elementary art teacher and artist, and the two have an 18-month old daughter.“I found my soul mate, and we’re always there for each other,” he said. “What I do is because I have a great partner.”
They fell in love while cooking together in a kitchen so small, he said you had to “make out.”
“There are really three principles that make a relationship: proximity, collaboration and intimacy,” Breitbach said. “When I’m home with my family, there’s nothing more I could ask for.
“You just have to learn to open your heart to someone,” he added.