Since graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2003, James Brown has edited documentaries for directors Thomas Burstyn, Briar March, Roger Donaldson (co-editing a documentary about motor racing legend Bruce McLaren) and Annie Goldson. In 2013 Brown shared an NZ Film Award with Goldson, for co-editing He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan. He has also directed a trio of documentaries on teen rugby players from Los Angeles (the first was 2013 award-winner Red White Black & Blue), plus music videos and video blogs. His company Branch Out Media specialises in offline editing.
...the best rugby movie I've seen ... Director James Brown tells the story from opposing angles. On one hand, he tries to dispel some of the negative stereotypes and stigmas associated with South Central and young African Americans, while also revealing the intimate, unique conflicts the characters of the film deal with in their personal lives. Pat Clifton, reviewing Red White Black & Blue on website Rugby Weekly, 30 January 2013
For this feature-length documentary, Kiwi actor Eryn Wilson heads behind the camera to tell the tale of a dog rehabilitation centre. Former soldier Jacob Leezak runs a dog psychology centre in Australia rehabilitating aggressive, troubled or abandoned pooches. He uses a mixture of physical training (swimming, massage, treadmill running), and lots of cuddles and kisses. Leezak makes it clear that dogs aren't to blame for bad behaviour, claiming 90% of their problems are caused by humans. Dog's Best Friend was set to play at the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival.
Bruce McLaren was one of the icons of motor racing in the sport's 60s ‘golden age’ – he won four Grand Prix, and joined fellow Kiwi Chris Amon to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The McLaren team he founded became one of the most successful in Formula One. In this documentary, director Roger Donaldson returns to the tarmac where he has made a mark before — Smash Palace, his fictional story of a race car driver, and two films inspired by Invercargill's DIY racing legend Burt Munro. Stuff reviewer James Croot called McLaren "engrossing, enlightening and surprisingly emotional".
He Toki Huna sets out to provide an independent overview of New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan (the longest overseas war in which NZ has played a role). The documentary follows journalist Jon Stephenson conducting eyewitness interviews in Afghanistan, and poses provoking questions about Kiwi troops' involvement in a conflict that co-director Kay Ellmers calls an “ill-defined war against an unclear” enemy. Ellmers and Annie Goldson made the Moa Award-winning film for Māori Television, alongside an extended cut which played at NZ’s 2013 Film Festival.
The 1978 death of Kerry Hamill in Khmer Rouge prison S21 provided a tangible link for New Zealanders to a genocide that claimed two million Cambodian lives. Thirty years later, this acclaimed documentary by filmmaker Annie Goldson follows Hamill’s brother Rob — an Olympian and Trans-Atlantic rowing champion — as he attends the war crimes trial of Comrade Duch, one of the architects of the slaughter. Hamill is there to make a victim impact statement, but also to understand how his brother died, confront the man responsible, and discover if forgiveness is possible.