John Brawley (centre) with Shaunette Renée Wilson in The Resident (Photo credit: © 2018-2019 Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved.)
After serving as director of photography on dozens of TV shows and several films in Australia and the US, John Brawley did not hesitate when he was offered the chance to make his TV directing debut.
Brawley called the shots on an episode of the second season of 20th Century Fox’s medical drama The Resident, which follows the daily professional and personal challenges faced by doctors at an Atlanta hospital.
“I had wondered about directing but did not really pursue it until the producing-director Rob Corn, who started the careers of many directors on Grey’s Anatomy, tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘I think you should direct,’” Brawley tells IF.
“I wasn’t going to argue with him. It was a great opportunity. It was like exercising a muscle I had never exercised before. As a DP I try not to tune too much into the nuances of performances, mostly because I don’t want to confuse the actors.
“I want them to only get that kind of feedback from the director. So I had to switch that part of my brain on and turn off the visual part a little bit.”
Starring Matt Czuchry, Bruce Greenwood, Manish Dayal, Emily VanCamp, Shaunette Renée Wilson and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, The Resident screens here on the Seven Network. Brawley’s ep entitled Queens will premiere on Seven next Tuesday night.
He has been the DP on the show from the first season. The second unit DP Hilda Mercado stepped up to take charge of the main unit on the segment he directed and on another on which he did the prep. Phillip Noyce is an executive producer.
Finding crew for the series last year in Atlanta was a challenge as there were no fewer than 92 shows in production in the city, attracted by Georgia’s tax credits of up to 30 per cent for features, TV series, animation, music videos commercials and games.
An AFTRS graduate, he worked on numerous series including The Warriors, Hiding, The Beautiful Lie, Puberty Blues, Offspring, Party Tricks and Lowdown and the movies 100 Bloody Acres and Lake Mungo.
He moved to the US in early 2017 to shoot the USA Network drama Queen of the South, which starred Alice Braga. As a dual US/Australian citizen he did not need a Green Card. He got the gig after meeting the series showrunner Natalie Chaidez when they worked on Hunters, the NBCUniversal-produced sci-fi drama for US cable network Syfy.
Although he’s been offered the chance to work on a couple of US shows shooting in Oz, he wants to focus on doing more US productions for the time being. He misses working with Aussies but is heartened to see directors such as Kate Dennis (a fellow Offspring alumni) and Daina Reid are plying their trade in the US.
Has his experience on The Resident whetted his appetite to direct again? “I am very happy being a cinematographer. It was nice to dip my toe into the water in a very safe way,” he says. “If there are other chances down the road I will certainly jump at them. Longer term, I see my future in producing.”