Cooper Brownlee Interview


The Daniel Johnson exclusive edit posted earlier today on TCU was filmed and edited by this man, Cooper Brownlee. In fact, Cooper has had a hand in the majority of the BMX media that has come out of Southeastern Australia. As a filmer, editor, photographer, graphic designer, product designer, art director and team manager (upon other various job titles) Cooper still finds time to ride. I’m actually a big fan of his style too. How does he do it?

Colony web video from 2012

Cooper’s part in the Colony DVD from 2011.

What came first, the bike or the camera?

Definitely the bike, I think I got my first camera about a year after I started riding so I could take photos of us riding our trails, it was just a shitty point and shoot that my mum had but you gotta start somewhere! Not long after that my friend had a video camera and so did my parents so we would use them to make videos via the old tape to tape style. It was such a good feeling going out riding all day, having fun, filming clips then we would stay at our friends place that night and mess with the footage. Everything just evolved from that.

How long ago was that?

I would say like 15 years ago? Not long after I started riding.

How old are you now?

Just turned 32

Focalpoint “Into The City” Mixtape #1 – filmed and edited by Cooper

Do you shoot and film in equal proportions or does one take priority?

It goes in stages but lately filming has definitely taken priority. I still shoot photos a lot just haven’t used my flashes much of late, just really into documenting the lifestyle side of things as cliche as it sounds.

Do you do all the work for Focalpoint? and at Colony?

Yeah video and photo wise I do, along with Division Brand and Academy BMX. We get help from other guys to get clips of dudes in other countries but overall yeah thats mostly my work. With Focalpoint the video stuff is me but photo stuff is a bit of a contribution base.

Do you ever get overwhelmed trying to ride and document at the same time, as well as enjoying the moment?

Not really, sometimes I wish there was another person shooting photos if I am filming but it’s all good. Riding wise, yeah I don’t get to ride as much but I love shooting as much as riding so I dont get too stressed. These days getting clips of myself I find planning it out and just doing it on a seperate mission is working better. On trips I barely get to ride because I really try to focus on filming and getting as much stuff as I can because I know when I start editing if I slipped getting something cool I will be pissed haha.

Alex Hiam 2013 web video – filmed and edited by Cooper

I find that a lot of photographers and filmers ride a freecoaster- when did you start riding a freecoaster?

I’ve had a freecoaster for about 6 years now, never going back! I also run a 23t which is partly to do with having to ride around everywhere with a camera bag on my back.

How often do you go out riding without any gear on your back?

Basically never! We drive to most spots but I always have my bag in the car and will take it in to spots all the time. When we ride the city I usually leave my flashes at home and also sometimes the HPX because it’s dark most of the time we are in there. I would love to roll around the city with no bag but I just know the day I do I will miss something haha.

What gear are you using these days?

Panasonic HPX-170
Nikon D800 – I just recently got this from having a D700 and I am love with it, dialed for photos and filming with it is on point! Filming wise I mainly use it for lifestyle sort of stuff and timelapses as it has a built in function which is basically the best thing ever for someone that is into timelapses! I sometimes use it for fisheye clips aswell but the 16mm isn’t as wide as the Canon lens and I would prefer the $300 lens get hit then the $1,000 lens.
Canon 7D – I use this just for filming fisheye lines, no photos shot with this.

Nikon 16mm fish
Nikon 80-200
Nikon 50mm 1.4
Nikon 28mm 2.8

Canon 50mm 1.4
Rokinon 8mm Fisheye
Eazyhandle for filming lines with a mod on it to hold both my mic and light
2 LED camera lights but I usually only use 1 of them.

Rode Mic
A Hoodman LCD magnifier for lifey shots and some fisheye stuff, which works pretty well I just wish I got one that had a 90 degree angle on it.

3 Vivitar flashes
Pocket Wizard plus2 transmitters

Manfrotto tripod and a shitty $20 tripod just for city missions as it’s nice and light and does the job

I have a Primary deck for my filming board with Penny board wheels on it which are nice and big.

Mick Bayzand 2013 – filmed and edited by Cooper

Tell me a little about the current format of Focalpoint. It’s kinda like a scrolling web mag.

Focalpoint started out as a free print mag and we kept it in print for about 8 years but printing and postage costs killed my bank account so we moved it to online via issuu which was also good but I wanted to do something that was more consistant and had frequent original content from Australia so that’s what we have now and I real, real psyched on it! Like you said it’s kind of got the aesthetics of a mag look to it but in web format.

Which websites do you check on a daily basis?

TCU obviously along with various other BMX sites. Outside of riding I hit up these 2 sites on the regular as they are always posting up good photography/design work…

Who are some artists/riders who inspire you?

Riding wise… All my friends that I ride with on the daily. Dudes like George D, Will Jackson and Lino Gonzales growing up. I will always be hyped on footage from Alex Kennedy, Daniel Johnson and Nathan Williams. I am a mad flat ledge jibba these days so anyone killing it on the streets and being creative will get my vote.

Artists wise… Jeff Staple, 13th Witness, Ricky Adam and Mike Manzoori

Tom Stretton 2013 – filmed and edited by Cooper

What do you have planned for this year?

Filming a fair bit right now for a Division project we have in the works, the web videos for Colony seem to never end so we always have them in the works. In a couple weeks some of the Colony team is coming to Melbourne to shoot this cool video project we have planned which should be alot of fun and also give Melbourne riders a few new spots to ride as well.

I am heading over to the USA for a month sometime in March to film which I am looking forward to. Hopefully Daniel Johnson will be coming with me. I’ve been trying to travel a bunch here in AUS so hopefully we can keep that rolling aswell.

Anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?

Thanks to my parents for being so damn awesome! Clint Millar for giving me the best job and for supporting BMX so much. My girlfriend Sarah and all the crew I ride with be it everyday or once every few months. Shoutout to anyone that supports the brands and is enjoying BMX.

Thanks to Scott and all the TCU crew for the interview.

hub guardDivision Hub Guard that Cooper helped design

division adDivision ad that Cooper made

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