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Dan Brophy – Writer, Director, Actor


Dan Brophy is a writer, director, producer, editor and freelance videographer based in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Dan is the guy that lights up a room with his smile. He’s always a lot of fun to work with on jobs, and it’s been great to see him develop his talent within the film and television space.

I can really relate to many of his answers below and I look forward to seeing his creative journey continue – particularly that long awaited script!

You can view Dan’s latest work on Vimeo.

Q & A:

1) You started work in the creative space as model and over the years have developed your skills as a writer, film director and producer. Is there a discipline that you prefer if you had to choose one? Do you prefer to work on fashion, music or TVC work? Do you feel your time as a model now makes it easier to direct other talent in front of the camera?

Writing is the thing I love most: When you write, there is nothing but possibility – the reality of shooting and all it’s associated burdens of finance and logistics are yet to burst the bubble of your dreams.

That being said, directing is magnificent – telling a story across multiple disciplines and orchestrating them to sing in harmony is a great art form for a well-contained control freak like myself. Though, the thing about directing is not even Martin Scorsese spends more than a few weeks on set every few years. The rest of your time is spent in pre or post production – if indeed you are working at all, so no matter how much you love to do it, you hardly ever get to.

When I direct I probably do have an empathy and deep respect for actors that isn’t common amongst my fellow film geeks – who are usually terrified of the strange, fragile, volatile creatures that professional performers can be.

2) Did you always want to be a Director? / What’s the best job (i.e. most creative/fun/biggest budget client) that you’ve worked on to date and why?

Before I even understood what a director did, I always wanted to be either an actor or a writer or an artist, and being a director combines all of those crafts.

Recently I worked on a job that I’m really proud of. I directed the Summer 13 campaign for womenswear brand Sussan that is part of an image overhaul they are going through, rendering the brand much more youthful and cool. It looks great and has a nice energy to it, though in the grand tradition of high street fashion, it was pitched as being much more edgy than it ended up.

However, the thing that gives me the most joy is a script I’ve been working on for about three years now. It’s taken so long, not only because it’s a lengthy process for one person to write a series with four main characters, but also because I had to teach myself HOW to write for TV – there aren’t any books on it and the structure is different to feature film writing. It’s been magnificent watching the characters grow and evolve and to me they are living breathing people. I cry when I write a sad scene and I laugh when they do. It’s the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.


3) How would you describe both your creative (or personal) style or point of view, and do you feel this has changed over the years as you’ve grown as a director/creative person?

My style and my point of view is ‘classic with a subversive twist’. It’s probably influenced by being raised in and by a city such as Melbourne. As I travel the world I am really glad that I view the world from a Melbournian perspective.

Growing up in Melbourne you have an awareness of style and design and culture because it is part of the dialogue of the city – and once you have a base understanding of something you are then free to subvert it. It reminds me of that saying ‘an artist can paint the sky red because he knows it’s blue’.

4) If you could work on any film/creative project – what would that look like? Do you have dreams or plans of heading overseas to make your mark?

My dream project is this current script, which is ultimately a love letter to the city that I adore most.

I would bounce back and forth from cities in Australia to other film making hubs of the world.

People always say what a shitty place LA is, but I think if you HAD to go somewhere for work, at least it’s sunny and you can live in a house and go to the beach and enjoy a plethora of low-carb food options. The modern art scene in LA is becoming exciting too.

5) What motivates you to continue to do better? / who have been your biggest (creative or other) influences in getting you to where you are today?

I love creativity in all its forms and I love being around motivated and productive artistic souls, which is why I love Melbourne so much. I am usually so turned on and inspired by seeing what other people are doing it makes me question ‘what do I have to offer that’s unique and important?’
But it’s hard; the world isn’t geared towards pursuing ‘wild and creative’ pursuits. We are raised to value security and therefore money always seems to come first, but yet there is the age-old notion that all the money in the world doesn’t buy happiness, yet there are still people blindly pursuing ‘having’. I’m intrigued by that idea at the moment: the push and the pull of art and commerce.

6) As a creative person – who and what inspires you? / what are you creatively passionate about?

Julia Cameron has a theory that every single human being is creative – it’s just the degree to which they need to express that creativity varies. For some, making dinner or getting dressed is enough. For others, they need to lock themselves in an attic and paint all day to satisfy their needs. I am passionate about people finding their passions and expressing themselves.

The way this ‘lack of expression’ often manifests is in the ‘back-firing’ of that energy which might otherwise be used to express oneself: toxic drinking habits, drug habits, dating, eating, shopping habits are usually what I notice people do to ‘take the edge off’. The most gloriously self-destructive people I know are the one’s who never learnt to truly express themselves. And that saddens and excites me greatly. Saddens because I feel for them, and excites because it inspires me to act.

7) What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as a young filmmaker, if any?

In this country, one of the biggest challenges is that people don’t get excited about watching Australian cinema. And I don’t blame them – the same type of films always seem to get made which have the same problems, all ultimately coming back to the fact that there isn’t enough money to pay a writer to do as many drafts as are needed to make something really good. In the US it is not uncommon for a film to have one hundred paid drafts (often by teams of writers) and the average script goes through around ten paid rounds of redrafting. And because what’s being made is never that great, there isn’t the money or willing investors to make the next lot of films better.

That is why I’m currently more excited by the idea of writing TV, at least if it’s good, it will find an audience online and that’s why I’ve taken three years to write this project – because I’d rather be good than famous.

8) You have studied your craft at uni and also attended VCA … Any career tips that you can also pass on to other young and up and coming – want to be filmmakers?

I wish someone told me to ‘write what you know’.

It’s such a common scenario for a teenage to ape his or her hero and make a film about the life of a thirty-something. In lieu of any actual truth, all they can do is fall back on imitation. However, a teenage point of view of their own world is exciting and can be incredibly authentic.

I’d also tell my filmic brothers and sisters to get active and just do it. Especially now that technology makes storytelling so possible. No one ever tells you that your first five or more projects are allowed to be bad. So the more you make, the sooner you will develop your own style that doesn’t rely so much on homage.

And write more. Share your writing with other writers to get the feedback to make your writing better because that is the number one problem with film making in this country – the writing. You can make a bad film from a good script but you can’t make a good film from a bad script.

9) As a model – you had one of the best rigs in the biz. Do you still like to keep fit and look after yourself? Any chance of yourself jumping in front of the camera again – or do you prefer to be on the other side these days?

I guess I’m in as good a shape as any now, but where as I used to be purely result-driven with exercise, now I’m more motivated by how is makes me feel which is why I incorporate more than just weights, like yoga and a weekly 80′s aerobics class which friends of mine run in Redfern.

I used to crave the validation that came with acting and modeling when I was younger, which of course was in direct contradiction to the best mentality to have when working. Now that I feel confident as a writer and director, I’m actually much more free when I come to perform, and I hope that I can continue to express myself in that way.

I did recently play a small cameo in my friend’s show Twentysomething – in episode 3 of season 2. I play an obnoxious gym instructor. I was also recently in a Renault car commercial where I played an obnoxious male model type. That’s not to be confused with the obnoxious male model type I played in the Uncle Toby’s commercials of a few years back. #onetrickpony

10) What’s next for you? Any other interesting projects on the horizon/collaborations or future goals you are yet to achieve?

I’m living in Sydney at the moment so I can finish my script – it seems I had to get out of Melbourne in order to write about it. Though I’ve never been happier with my workflow than in the last year (maybe it’s because I know five people here and there’s no where to go out!).

Because there is more commercial work up here, I am able to support myself with directing gigs while I write, which has been my goal for some time now.
I’ve been writing and directing sketch comedy with a small crew of very talented performers when I’m in Melbourne and I can’t wait to do more of that, and I’m hell-bent on making a film for Tropfest this year, and I’m currently writing a blog all about my observations of being a Melbournian in Sydney. Seriously, it’s a different world up here.

To view some of Dan’s current projects and work go to:

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