Nathan Brown was a rising star. A promising up-and-coming producer. To be chosen from a long list of hopeful television producers to attend the NSI Totally Television course at 26 years old is an amazing accomplishment.
His NSI Totally Television writing partner Chris Hill has written a letter below.
Nathan’s goal was to become a professional producer of Canadian television and film; he was well on his way.
He was a warm, funny, smart and genuine person. He will be missed by everyone who met him.
Our thoughts are with Nathan’s family and friends.
– Brandice Vivier and Samantha Linton –
Nathan produced Shinny in January 2011. Thank you to Tyler MacIntyre, director of Shinny, for sharing it with us. Tyler MacIntyre and Nathan worked together many times over the years and were quite close.
Making movies with my friend, Nathan Brown by Chris Hill
My first memory of Nathan is of him wearing a Darth Vader costume. It wasn’t Halloween, or a convention, but a scene for a comedy short we were making as part of a 24-hour competition. It was a big crew, a thrown-together group of university film-club members and curious acquaintances. This guy stood out, and not because he was the only one big enough to make an imposing Vader – ‘uncomfortable’ barely describes being in that suit on a hot afternoon. That was my friend, Nathan Brown.
Nathan grew up on a farm near New Sarepta, Alberta, where he made videos in his spare time including some truly outrageous stop-motion projects using a vast Lego set as his studio. He loved genre. Batman, Jurassic Park and Raiders were equally seminal influences and it showed in whatever he made both as a pop-culture skewering and a love letter in one.
After a few more student films, we hit it off as part of a great group of talented artists. Somebody owned a mic, or lights, or a camera, and we took turns volunteering on each other’s project. Usually there was little to no budget, or the equivalent amount after pizza was bought for the crew and sometimes it meant standing outside in minus-25 wind-chill holding a boom-pole.
We put an actor without riding experience on a horse for a western, and gave credence to the concept of a knife-wielding gorilla for a horror, and told the heart-felt story of a toaster on wheels escaping the government for a sci-fi. Some of these turned out better than others but we kept doing it and we got better and more ambitious with every project. Nathan volunteered for more crews than I can count. Looking back, it is easily the best time of my life.
I moved to Toronto in 2011 while Nathan stayed close to home in Edmonton near his family and many of our close mutual friends. The NSI Totally Television course was a huge step for us as emerging professionals and we were honored to be included in such a talented group. More than anything it was a chance to keep working together on a large project in spite of living so far apart.
Nathan wasn’t just my incredibly supportive creative partner but also one of my best friends. As his latest work shows, Nathan was a rising star on the scene and I have no doubt of the great producer and artist he would have become, and to me already was. I am so proud of how far we’ve come.
It hadn’t occurred to me until recently what Nathan liked most about this game. But looking back I think it was this: movies mean people – the audience, the crew, and most of all the shared memories with the people you love. Nathan cared about people more than anything else and anyone who has met him can attest to how genuine and kind a person he really was.
So while I wondered why a guy so full of promise didn’t make the jump to a larger centre for his career, it’s clear to me now that he believed he could do it all where he was, that you could do great things without giving up the ones you care about most. Even while chasing his dreams, he never neglected being a good son, brother, husband and true friend.
When I look back on our time together, I am overwhelmed by how many good times we had, as do many others lucky enough to have known him. I am so glad to have all these funny, terrible and occasionally great short films to remember him by.
That was my friend, Nathan Brown.
Above: NSI Totally Television 2012 students – Lee Hoverd; Chris Hill; Anthony Del Col; Paula Devonshire; Nathan Brown; Jennifer Little; David Ray; Alejandro (Alex) Alcoba; Kate Green; Aaron Champion
I would just like to say how wonderful it was to meet Nathan. He was a kind, creative and genuinely funny guy. A bunch of us had a great debrief lunch after the pitches on our last day at the NSI Totally Television boot camp and it was so nice to share a few laughs and celebrate the week that had passed. I was shocked and saddened by the news and it reminded me that we all need to take advantage of each and every day and continue to pursue our passions. My deepest condolences to Nathan’s family and wife Alex.
Anthony Del Col and Lee Hoverd
The great thing about a boot camp like NSI is the ability to meet a wide variety of people and quickly connect over similar interests, sensibilities and projects. Lee and I felt very lucky to have met and shared some laughs and stories with Nathan through our NSI Totally Television experience. Nathan was a very determined and astute young producer who had a bright future ahead of him.
I was lucky enough to have met Nathan prior to our week at NSI. A few years ago we were both part of the CMPA mentorship program and I got to spend a couple days with him during the PrimeTime conference in Ottawa. As with all industry events, there was a lot of ambition in the room – a lot of swagger. But Nathan was one of those people who stood back, observed, learned as much as he could and wanted to talk to you as a person rather than a business opportunity. It was refreshing. Meeting up with him again, three years later at NSI, Nathan was still that same person. He will be missed.
Even though I only knew Nathan for a week, he did make an impression on my life. I am glad for that one week and the chance I had to get to know him. I will always remember his good nature. I remember my parting words to him after our last session, I told him he should be very proud of himself and that I wished that I had been as advanced in my career as he is when I was his age. He will be missed.
Meeting Nathan was a highlight for me of attending the NSI Totally Television course. It was a great group, everyone was super into it but it was really challenging. The stakes were high and it seemed my career weighed in the balance. The funny thing is whenever I glanced over at Nathan he seemed to be smiling. Like being invited to share your dreams with a bunch of kindred spirits is something to be enjoyed. The last time we spoke I mentioned how impressed I was with how together he was at such an early age. But it wasn’t just his acumen that gave me pause, it was the way he was enjoying the whole adventure.