Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like, 1stAveMachine director, guru Ron Brodie with us.
Ron Brodie is a cultural enthusiast inspired by his bicultural Jamerican heritage, originally hailing from the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Having obtained his BA in Film and Television from Howard University in 2006, Ron currently resides and works in New York City.
Ron has had the pleasure of directing projects for brands including Airwalk, Facebook, Spotify, Google, and more. He’s worked with several television networks such as MTV, VH1, BET, ABC, Discovery, and HBO. His work has debuted on Hypebeast, .Mic, Attn:, ESPN, Medium, Business Insider, ADWEEK, and Fast Company.
Ron’s short film “Jumpman” (shot on 35mm) debuted on Boooom.TV, and received recognition as official picks of Vimeo’s ‘Experimental’ and ‘Narrative Category’ channels. Most recently, Ron’s efforts on the music video for Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ has been awarded an official Vimeo Staff Pick.
Currently, Ron is slated to release a four-part travel series titled ‘Driver Radio: Jamaica’ which explores local transportation through a 1st generational lens; commissioned by PBS and slated to release on September 21st, 2020. As a filmmaker, Ron looks forward to enhancing his career by directing & producing underrepresented stories that are often missed by mainstream media.
What’s your origin story?
I am the youngest of four siblings born in Washington DC to immigrant parents from Jamaica. I grew up 100% West Indian until public school took away my accent ( though I’ve regained my flavor through a resilient community, proud supportive family, and frequent visits back to the island). After high school, I studied film at Howard University, refining my love for telling stories before jumping into the industry
How did you get into directing?
I used to enjoy documenting everything my friends and I were doing. It started as nonsense, but the more we filmed our antics, the more creative we got to produce them. I was the first to learn how to edit, so I naturally began telling people what I wanted them to do (LOL)
Who were your mentors?
I’ve admired Allen Huges, Gordon Parks, Spike Lee, Michel Gondry. Although we’ve never met, I’ve certainly looked up to them for many years. My more traditional mentors have been my father Donald Brodie, a professor at Howard Alanzo Crawford, my creative brother Regi Allen, and the wise David Casey.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Producing my four-part series “Driver Radio: Jamaica” and having it featured by the Jamaica Gleaner was significant. The biggest was watching my parents watch the series for the first time.
What drives you to create?
I’ve always been driven to create by the need to leave something meaningful behind.
REELated: Read about others on The Reel Black List
What TV series or movies portrayed powerful, inspirational Black images in 2021?
The release of The Harder They Fall was pretty exciting. I loved the Black ensemble cast and concept of a Black Western, but it was the soundtrack that got me! I was also very excited about the re-release of the film “Sankofa” by Haile Gerima. Gerima was a professor of mine at Howard, and last fall Ava Duvernay and Netflix premiered the remastered film at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The film was incredible, and it was amazing to be in attendance. It felt like a mini film school reunion!
What is the biggest challenge to Black people in your industry?
This is a tricky question. In some ways, it feels like high school. With diversity, I think like any industry facing a reckoning can make the mistake of overcompensating, leading to different assumptions of what being “black” is all about. The truth is there is such a spectrum that it should open the floor to a flood of opportunities and stories worth telling. It might be a phenomenon that I’m not sure the industry has fully recognized or managed to keep up with.
How has having the superpower of your Blackness helped you?
I think a lot about my network and how they’ve continually come through for me. Specifically, my mentors and the folks who allowed me to create and tell my stories.
If Black culture is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?
My Kryptonite would be raisins & raisin-like fruits (craisins, currants, prunes, etc.). I hate those things.
When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?
If I’m not actively creating, I’m spending time thinking about the next thing I want to make. Beyond that, I love spending more and more time with my family these days.
Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?
I’m in Jamaica, finishing up or debuting my first feature film.