Social Work: Nick Brokaw
Nick Brokaw is the Director / Writer / Producer of Four Winds (Napesni Motion Pictures), showing at the inaugural Survival International Film Festival (SIFF, 21 – 23 May) at Ballarat Mechanics Institute this Friday (6.45pm).
Four Winds is a deep and strong short film (32 mins) set in a period following the American Civil War. The title character, played by Jerry Wolf, is a Native American war veteran who is viciously betrayed by his Company’s Captain Flemming (Ken Lyle). This is a classic set for revenge, and after much sufferance Four Winds thankfully gathers his posse of outcasts together and rides to make the bastards pay.
This is the first instalment of a larger epic, with the second film, Greasy Grass, being set in the aftermath of the Battle of Little Big Horn, where Four Winds seeks peace between devastated native nations and an increasingly reluctant Government.
Which member of your family influenced you the most?
Nick Brokaw: My parents raised me with a very strong sense of self and identity in the southern California mountains. I am very lucky to have had much time to explore nature by myself and become very conscious of the world around me and the inter-connectivity of nature. But to answer the question, both of my grandfathers had the most influence on my life as an adult. My mother’s father was born in 1901 in Denmark and was a life-long sailor from another time. He sailed ships for nearly 70 years, circumnavigated the globe on old ‘tallship’ steamers, wandered the world before it became as small as it is today. My personal work ethic and mentality stems from his strong-willed viking blood. My father’s father influenced my professional work ethic; he was one of the biggest and most successful agents in Hollywood. He worked from the mail-room at the William Morris Agency starting in 1943 and rose through the ranks, eventually representing some of classic Hollywood’s biggest talent, musical acts, television shows, presidents and politicians and their families. He was the youngest of five brothers, some of who were killed in WW2 and others who struggled to support themselves and their families. My great-grandfather died when my grandfather was just ten, after the family lost their fortune in the great depression of the American 1930s, so he took it upon himself to ensure that his widowed mother and family would never have to be left with nothing again. He worked for nearly 70 years and has always balanced his drive for success with his ability to do business the old-school, handshake-honest way. He is the last of a golden era of entertainment and his professional work ethic fuels my drive to fill big shoes.
How similar are your political beliefs to those of your family?
N.B. Very close, my parents are hippies and very liberal. One half is Jewish-liberal and the other half is Scandinavian-left-liberal
What do you hope for?
N.B. I hope to see a day where the majority of people on this planet realize that the destructive tendencies of the so-called norm (today’s average existence) had been lived with its priorities backwards. I hope that one day environmental issues and personal spiritual healing of individuals take precedence above all the financially fuelled ‘business-money-first-greed-mongering’ way that our current world economy functions within.
What do you think is your main purpose in life?
N.B. The same as I believe that everyone’s purpose to being blessed to live on this earth: To breed, cultivate, nurture, and promote positivity, beauty and harmony to all people and living things on a daily basis. To always make the kinder choice. In a more individually crafted answer, to tell stories that need to be told, to educate, entertain, inform, bring to light the stories that tell tales of the way things were, how they can be now and how they should be in future. Regardless of the message of each individual film I seek to bring to fruition in (what i hope to be) a long lifetime in cinema, I aim to put my life’s effort towards creating stories through film that last longer than my lifetime; that can continue to impact an infinite number of individuals, bring them joy, make them feel emotions and hopefully learn how to be better humans and citizens of our collective humanity within a beautiful and fragile planet.
Do you think things happen for a reason?
N.B. I believe that everyone has a destiny that they can shape within the parameters that they have been born into, but I also believe that as the great Peter O’Toole said as Lawrence of Arabia, “truly for some men, nothing is written”.
What beliefs do you have that you think will never change?
N.B. I am extremely old-school … always do the gentlemanly thing; chivalry is not dead as long as I can open a door for a lady.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
N.B. I believe that there is an all-encompassing, ever-binding natural force that lives within all things. I believe that every object, ‘living’ or not (by our standards) has a soul and an energy. I have hung around a lot of traditional Native Americans, so, yeah, their views on that have certainly become mine.
Is any religious text important to you?
N.B. None. Religion is a dirty word because it’s been hijacked from spiritualists. Religion is politics … their organized corporations are no different than any money-hungry company. Their texts are as important to me as the numbers invented by the stock markets of the world … that said, there are some pretty good fables in them that I have enjoyed and think are great when people learn from them and it improves their lives. Individual spirituality is best when it remains your own and doesn’t funnel into a collective ‘religion’ where it becomes swayed like a stampede of wild animals. Religious texts can offer meaning like any fable or lesson from any kind of storytelling; however, all too often today (and for the past 1500 years) religions and their texts have become ammunition for evil, conquest and destruction, therefore anybody or anything that takes them that seriously needs some serious sit-down time with the Dalai Lama.
Have you ever come close to dying?
N.B. Every time I drive on the highways of Los Angeles, ha ha … and that one time I was playing with fireworks and almost had an 1/8th stick of dynamite explode in my hand … dumb youth.
What do you like the best about your body?
N.B. My ability to grow a pretty fierce beard.
What do you think would be the best thing about being the opposite gender?
N.B. Knowing the fact that I’d be one of the most powerful things on the planet. Really, if you think about it, every motivation that a man has, personally, financially, professionally, is ultimately to win the honor of procreating with the female deemed most powerful. Women rule men’s brains for better or for worse. I know I have always been a victim of the nordic blonde Valkyrie goddesses.
Is there anything you find irresistible?
N.B. A lot of things. Too many. Great films, amongst them; Westerns, Film Noir, everything the Coen Brothers have made. Ice hockey & baseball. Danish food (Danish everything). Classic era cars, fashion, lifestyle and women … and pretty much any kind of woman … those damn females are pretty irresistible in oh-so-many ways.
What is stopping you?
N.B. Nothing but myself … I am learning to become an excellent mental hurdler … always looking to set my personal best each time I am faced with sprinting into action and jumping the challenges I see before me.
SIFF – siff.net.au/
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