From the local dinner theatre stage to the world stage, Red Deer’s Justice Brooks is starting to make ripples as a U.K.-based filmmaker.
The 21-year-old, who was known as Justice Letkeman while growing up in this city, began performing at age 12 with Central Alberta Theatre in comedies such as Nuncrackers and Ethan Claymore.
His interest gradually turned to filmmaking, and he began making corporate videos at age 16.
After graduating from Notre Dame High School, Brooks took film production in SAIT in Calgary and managed to work on a project while in Melbourne, Australia.
He later interned with a Columbia University team that was filming in Alberta.
And Brooks feels fortunate to have learned some of his craft from these U.S. filmmakers, whose work had been showcased at Sundance. “It was a very humbling experience,” said the young Central Albertan (who professionally uses his middle name as his last name).
Brooks continued his overseas adventures with his first job after SAIT, becoming expedition cinematographer for the Global Education Network and doing a project in Ghana.
He accrued more international experience after moving to the U.K. last year on a two-year work visa. Brooks is planning to stay in England until the fall of 2016, saying “there’s a lot more opportunity here. It’s a huge hub for film and videos, so it’s really easy to make connections.”
Brooks now works part time as a camera operator with a London company called Sinikle Visual, making music videos for such artists as English rapper Skepta.
He also volunteers for the charitable Hillsong production company with links to an Australian church. The company, with an interest in global development, captures live events on video.
But the international film project that’s closest to Brooks’s heart has already started shooting, with help from a Calgary film studio that’s worked on the TV show Hell on Wheels.
Street Dreams will be a 15-minute documentary that Brooks is directing about street performers and how their artistry is sometimes mistaken for panhandling.
“It will have a unique spin, with the street performers telling their stories,” said Brooks, who believes “there’s so much talent involved with street performing, and a lot of these artists don’t get the credit they deserve.”
Segments are being shot by freelance camera operators in up to 10 countries around the globe. When the film is done, Brooks plans to submit it to film festivals and have an Alberta premiere.
The Red Deer native wants to work full time as a music video director, someday.
In the meantime, he’s trying to gain as much experience as he can, “so I can hit the ground running.”