20 for the 20th – Reel Profile Series: Orlando Braun
Orlando Braun is an award-winning Filmmaker with a Masters degree in Producing for film & TV. He was mentored by Merit Jensen Carr through the Telefilm Canada Producers Mentorship program has worked in the industry in many producer-capacities including Business Affairs, Production Management, Line Producer, Associate Producer, and Story Producer on award-winning theatrical and television documentaries and factual series for broadcasters like CBC’s DocZone, The Nature of Things, PBS Nature, Smithsonian Channel, OLN, TVO, Escape, SKY and more.
Orlando has worked in New York and Los Angeles with industry professionals such as Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film, Manage-Ment [Garden State], Platinum Studios [Cowboys & Aliens] and Film Independent [Spirit Awards, LA Film Festival]. Orlando’s films have played at numerous festivals around the globe and have garnered dozens of awards.
When and how did you start in the media production industry?
Oh man, how much time do you have? In hindsight, I should have recognized that I’d want to get into film when I was in elementary school. I would write little detective stories that my friends and I would act in front of a camcorder I’d borrowed from my dad. But, I never saw it as a career option, nor had I ever known anyone in the industry, and I had very little exposure to the medium in my education through grade 12. I went into university enrolled in Architecture, and after an internship at an Architect firm, I realized that line of work was not for me. I switched up all my architecture classes for film and theatre classes and got my B.A. in Film.
I was coincidentally also working at the brand new MTS TV to pay my way through school, and really understanding the inner workings of the product and impacts on the service, so much so, that after I graduated, I ended up in a Business Analyst role at MTS TV – even without post secondary business education. While I really enjoyed the business of things, it was not creatively fulfilling, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts in Producing for Film & Television at the New York Film Academy. It was a 2 year compressed masters program – 1 year in NYC, and the other in Universal Studios, CA. After that, I returned to Winnipeg and received the CMPA Telefilm Producers Mentorship Program Award wherein I was mentored by Merit Jensen Carr at Merit Motion Pictures for 6 months. I learned so much about producing in Canada through this experience, and I have been working fulltime in film and television ever since.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I am presently a producer for Prairie Boy Productions, but it is a small industry and I have helped other productions in various capacities.
What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
The volume of work seems to have amply increased since I started, but less productions interested in an ethical/sustainable workday. With a blend of higher volume of projects, and demand for longer hours, I fear a greater rate of burn-out. This is kind of a downer answer and you don’t have to include my answer because this is merely my personal opinion. But I think we have an opportunity here to address the need early and collectively move more towards an ethical workday and build an industry that has longevity and people working in the system can plan for a future and live with a healthy work/life balance.
If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
Because I went the post-secondary route for entering the industry, I now notice a real absence of business classes in my undergrad [and actually in any undergrad program related to the arts]. I would encourage myself to take business/marketing classes to compliment my arts degree as a more rounded preparation for entering an arts field.
How did taking FTM training affect your career?
It’s no small feat the impressive consultants and trainers FTM has been able to source for courses. Not only have I benefited from professional development training as a producer and supervisor, I have also benefited from FTM partnering to provide mentorship to my crew and really helping to fill my production needs.
What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
I love the glitz and glamour the public associates with our industry, but I remind folks entering this line of work that this is a hard-working, blue-collar industry. There is not ONE best way to enter the industry, as every testimony from crew will tell a different story. The few things that these various routes have in common is for individuals to take responsibility for their learning; always take the set etiquette courses from FTM, take courses and get on set in any capacity to build your learning, and if going the post-secondary route, really take advantage of business management courses to supplement your degree with practical skills to help you in the workforce.
What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you?
The early work of Robert Rodriguez inspired me to go above and beyond – and not to let any perceived restrictions set me back, but rather act as parameters within to which allow creativity to blossom. Coincidentally, these skills sharpened for me on a recent true crime series I worked on. Choosing to delight in these challenges is key to a healthy and positive work experience.
Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
I recently missed an opportunity to produce a Sean Garrity film, and I would still love the opportunity to produce a film with him soon. His creativity and indie spirit is so refreshing, and also shares my desire to keep to an ethical workday [8-10 hrs], and we need to foster more of these kinds of projects in effort of local sustainability.
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
I plan to still be producing out of Winnipeg, and partnering with more international companies, and giving opportunities to showcase more local and upcoming talent. I have been fortunate enough to have been brought into this industry with nurturing producers like Merit Jensen Carr and Jeff Peeler, and it is a happy obligation that I’d like to pay that forward to help bring up our next generation of content creators. We have set the stage for a world class training ground with a rich variety of local/indigenous projects and A-list service work to boost our industry, and I am excited to be a part of this journey.