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
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
As this promotional clip makes clear, Funny As features an impressive roll call of Kiwi comedy legends. The five-part series traces the history of New Zealand comedy through interviews and archive footage. In coming weeks NZ On Screen will be publishing extended interviews with the comedy talent captured on camera for the series. Funny As ranges all the way from the early days of live comedy to screen pioneers (Fred Dagg, the Week of It team), the legendary Billy T, and the Kiwi comedians who've made their mark internationally (Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby).
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 writer Jon Stephenson conducting eyewitness interviews in Afghanistan, and poses tough questions about the involvement of Kiwi troops 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. An extended cut played at the 2013 NZ International 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.