Vale Geoff Brown

07 July, 2015 by Don Groves

Former executive director of Screen Producers Association of Australia, Geoff Brown.


Geoff Brown, the esteemed former executive director of Screen Producers Association of Australia, died on Tuesday morning after a long illness. He was 65.

Brown stepped down in 2012 after 16 years with the producers’ body, including 11 in the top post, succeeded by Matt Deaner. He served on the board of AFI|AACTA for two years until June.

AFI | AACTA chair Alan Finney and CEO Damian Trewhella told IF,  “Geoff was a good man, a passionate screen advocate and a huge contributor to our industry and to AFI | AACTA. He will be missed."

ADG executive director Kingston Anderson said, "We have lost a great champion of Australian film and television and a great supporter of Australian producers, directors and writers."

Former SPAA president Antony I Ginnane said, "Geoff was a tireless supporter of the Australian film and TV industry. It was his life. He brought to negotiations and discussions both a passion and an insight that often cut through entrenched positions. He was also a great friend and supporter and will be deeply missed."

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner acknowledged Brown's "immense contribution to the industry and his achievements over 16 years, 11 of which he led the organisation through a number of challenges."

Deaner noted Brown started as SPAA’s manager of industrial relations before being promoted to executive director in 2002.

"Among his many achievements Geoff Brown negotiated industry benchmark agreements, consolidated SPAA’s financial position, and established the organisation as an important voice for the screen industry in the media and in Canberra," he said.

"Screen Producers Australia is grateful for Geoff’s outstanding contribution to our industry and extends our deepest sympathies to his son Nicholas and family."

Australian Writers' Guild executive director Jacqueline Elaine also paid tribute, observing, "Geoff Brown dealt with writers, with the Guild and with me with integrity, humour and respect. He could be both a fierce, intelligent industry advocate and industrial adversary, whilst being a warm and engaging colleague who one would look forward to sharing a nice red with at the end of a hard day's battle. He was a win-win kind of guy who worked hard to get the job done. A genuinely good bloke who will be sadly missed.”

Before SPAA  Brown spent 11 years with the ABC in senior management roles in production, broadcasting and operations.  In 2011 he was appointed an official ambassador for the SBS. He served on the executive committee of FIAPF, the international film producers association based in Paris, and was the co-chair of FIAPF's Asia Pacific policy committee.

He lost his wife to cancer in 2010 and his 34-year-son Alex to the “black dog” in 2011. He told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2012, ''At the time and ever since, I've thought how much better to work in the film industry than in a bank. The whole industry came to my help, cosseted me and helped me through. I'm not sure that happens to someone who works in a bank.”

In a media statement he said, “I have enjoyed every moment of my time at SPAA and have been blessed with great staff and supportive SPAA Councils but it’s time for a change.

"Recent events in my personal life have made me focus on the important things in life and I hope to find a new direction. This does not mean that I am retiring. I just want to move onto a new phase which will hopefully involve working in the industry in some other capacity.”

This writer was proud to know Geoff as a valued industry colleague and a good mate for two decades.

He is survived by his sister Susan and son Nick.

The funeral service will be  held in the South Chapel of Rookwood Gardens Crematorium, Memorial Ave, Lidcombe on Friday  July 10 at 10.30 am, followed by a wake at Massey Park Golf Club in Concord.