Beatriz Browne is a NYC based Producer and Filmmaker specializing in short-form digital storytelling. Some of her work includes a Documentary series for Fatherly, “My Kid The”, and “Passing the Torch” with Hearst Media. She is also currently producing her new documentary film “The Monster of Carmine Street”, which is set to circulate festivals in early 2019. Her work has been recognized by major publications such as Good Morning America, Upworthy, Babble and Popsugar.
What drew you into the world of filmmaking? What was your defining moment?
I’ve always resonated with being a storyteller and wanting to tell stories, but have also always considered myself a very visual person. I grew up around TV sets and commercial sets, so naturally I wanted to explore the field. But it wasn’t until I was about 10 years old and I watched Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile” with my dad, that I realized there is so much beauty in storytelling. So since then, I’ve been following and learning about the industry as much as I could, and I think my defining moment was when I began working with documentary-style films during college. I fell in love with telling true stories and showing life as it is.
What do you look for when looking for a project?
There are two type of stories I normally look for in projects. One is involving a topic that I know nothing or very little about, because it gives me an opportunity to learn something new and provide a very unbiased perspective. The other will generally involve a topic that I am passionate about and feel a need to shine a light upon the story for social change. Sometimes the two will intertwine, and I always learn something new throughout my projects, but generally, eccentric characters, cultures and unique experiences attract me almost immediately.
What has been your favorite camera to use?
Sony FS7! While it isn’t the cheapest camera out there, I find it so extremely useful especially when doing a one-man show. Most of the time I prefer to focus on directing or really connecting with my audience, so I like using cameras that I know will capture something beautiful and I won’t have to worry about it too much. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate cinematography, I 100% do! But it’s a super reliable camera with a great image and great dynamics.
For someone looking to start out what equipment do you suggest they invest in?
I would suggest investing in the very basics, nowadays you really don’t need much or anything fancy to make a film. A DSLR camera (Canon 7D or Sony A7II are my favorites), a tripod, a shotgun and a lavalier mic. Especially if you plan to begin as a one-man band, these are the most essential and portable equipment pieces that you can get.
What advice do you give inexperienced cinematographers who are looking to grow in their art?
Practice, practice, practice. Even if it means pulling out your phone on a daily basis and shooting things that are aesthetically pleasing to you, it will help you begin thinking of all aspects of cinematography. You will begin to understand how light works, depth of field, and compositions, to a point where you can then start incorporating personal preferences. There are so many great resources on YouTube and even great books on the basics of cinematography that I would encourage reading. There’s even a really cool program called Cinematography DB, where they provide courses and 3D simulations of an actual set where you can practice lighting and camera placements, etc.
What is a successful moment in your career so far?
I’m still trying to figure out what success means to me, because I’m seldom satisfied with my work. I always feel there is more I could do. But during my latest series “My Kid The”, I’ve had people come up to me and simply tell me that an episode has changed their perspective on something, or that it’s inspired them, or a simply thanked me for shining a light on a specific story. I’ve even had very non-emotional people be extremely vulnerable to me during a few of the episodes. That to me, would be my ideal definition of a successful moment in my career. It means my stories are capable of being life changing, and there isn’t anything more rewarding than that.
How does a typical day (for you) begin when you are in full swing production?
I normally wake up, have a heavy breakfast that I know will last me a while, and take 10 minutes to just try and be present (whether it’s by meditating or listening to music). I get very excited and sometimes overwhelmed, that to me it’s important to just become present in the moment. Once I do that I’ll then head to set (always with an iced coffee in hand) and go over my director/or producer clipboard, just to refresh my mind on what my day will be like. That clipboard will normally include my schedule for the day, the scenes that I will be shooting, interview questions, shot lists, and overall one-day treatments (I try to do one large treatment and then one smaller one per day of shoot).
What’s next for you?
I’m currently producing and directing a new Documentary, called “The Monster of Carmine Street” [working title], which is about an independent bookstore in New York City and its owner. The store is home to a cultural heritage and an eccentric community of artists and writers, and unfortunately may not be around for much longer due to high rent. Right now we are in production for the film, but it is set to be released in early 2019 and circulate several festivals then, so definitely stay tuned!